Spurs like to counterattack, which South Korea will have to do in Russia too, and that fits Son perfectly. He is zippy as hell, though that’s not all of what makes him special. Son has a knack for finding open space and manipulating a retreating defense into giving up even more space. He won’t get to play with anyone of Kane’s talent on his national team, and injuries have unfortunately ravaged the Korean attack, so he will likely play as either a line-leading forward or as a slightly withdrawn second striker. South Korea will need Son’s strong finishing ability, since they’re short on other goalscorers. Even if they don’t make the knockout rounds, there’s a decent chance Son scores the goal of the tournament.


How The Team Plays

Shin was fond of a 3-5-2 formation leading up to the World Cup, but he’s since admitted that a back four is probably a better idea against the sort of teams Korea will have to play at the World Cup. His biggest decision will be how advanced to play star midfielder Ki Sung-yeung. The Premier League-seasoned Ki is the best passer on this team, and he will likely play as a deep-lying playmaker or a box-to-box midfielder, both of which would allow him to move the ball all around the field while keeping someone behind him to cover up for his occasional defensive lapses. If Korea spring any upsets, it will be because of Ki and Son.


Things will be trickier for South Korea than they were in qualification, as they’ll be without winger Lee Chung-yong and defensive midfielder Kwon Kyung-won. This is not a terribly deep team, but there are intriguing players like former Barcelona youth player Lee Seung-woo and striker Hwang Hee-chan. If Lee and Hwang, who are 20 and 22 years old respectively, show out, then that only makes Son’s job easier.

Group F Fixtures

June 18, 8 a.m.: South Korea vs. Sweden at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

June 23, 11 a.m.: South Korea vs. Mexico at Rostov Arena

June 27, 10 a.m.: South Korea vs. Germany at Kazan Arena