There are very few World Cup Fantasy assets on offer in South Korea’s squad.
No player scored more than twice in the final round of Asian qualifying and clean sheets have been very hard to come by in the last year.
Nevertheless, we’ve still got everything you need to know about Shin Tae-yong’s side.
ROAD TO QUALIFICATION
Not much is expected from South Korea as they head into a tough World Cup group on the back of a difficult qualification campaign. Furthermore, there are lots of problems with their team that still need solving, defence one of their greatest concerns as it is still susceptible to pace and set-pieces.
Perhaps Korea’s biggest problem is their inability to perform when away from home. During qualifying, under previous manager Uli Stielike, they mustered just two points on their travels. Displays have improved slightly now that Shin Tae-yong is at the helm, especially in a 2-1 win against Colombia and a 1-1 draw with Serbia in November. After making progress in those results, Korea then lost to Northern Ireland and Poland due to some lapse defending, although they did look good going forward. However, Shin’s side looked very poor in a 3-1 defeat to Bosnia and a 0-0 draw with Bolivia in their two World Cup warm-up games.
Coach Shin has admitted that he has struggled to work out how exactly to balance training players who train in Europe with those play in their own continent. Key players like Ki Sung-yeung and Koo Ja-cheol have finished their respective campaigns in the Premier League and Bundesliga while much of the squad are still in the middle of their seasons and are in a different state of mind.
Also counting against the Asians is that Kwon Chang-hoon, seen as one of the most promising and dangerous attacking talents in Korea injured his achilles tendon in the final match of the 2017/18 Ligue 1 season with Dijon and has been ruled out.
Ultimately, South Korea’s success at the World Cup may come down to whether or not Shin can get the best out of Son Heung-min. The Spurs midfielder has been a wide-man most of his career but his standout quality has seen his national managers shift him to a centre-forward position. He has performed well in that position but there are concerns, even from his manager, that he may be burned out come the opener with Sweden on June 18.
AFC QUALIFYING THIRD ROUND
Most starts: Jang Hyun-soo (10), Ki Sung-yeung, Son Seung-min (both 8), Ji Dong-won, Koo Ja-cheol (both 7).
Most goals: Ki Sung-yeung, Koo Ja-cheol (both 2).
Most assists: Ji Dong-won (2).
THE KEY TARGETS
Son Heung-min (£8.0m on McDonalds World Cup Fantasy) will have to replicate his explosive club form at the World Cup if he is going to be worthy of Fantasy investment this month. The Tottenham Hotspur man scored just once in the third and final round of Asian qualifying but has found the net three times in six friendly starts since, assisting once too. Son is capable of being a match-winner for his country bagging a brace in a 2-1 win over Colombia back in November. His quality is obvious too as he racked up 12 goals and eight assists in another strong campaign with Spurs.
Coming into the frame more in recent friendlies is Jeonbuk Motors striker Kim Shin-wook (£7.0m), who has scored four times in four starts. Known affectionately as ‘The Wookie’, the 6ft 6 forward is traditionally seen as the plan B but he has been most effective at his job.
Captain Ki Sung-yeung (£6.5m) is a hugely important player for South Korea and is worth having on your Fantasy radar. He was the joint top-scorer in qualifying for the Asian outfit and is usually ever-present, injury permitting. The Swansea City man made eight starts from a possible 10 as South Korea booked their place in Russia. Since qualification finished he has only featured form the beginning in five matches but is believed to be crucial to Shin’s World Cup plans.
AREAS TO AVOID
South Korea’s defence is a dangerous to invest in for World Cup Fantasy, not only was there a huge amount of rotation in that area of the pitch during qualifying, Shin’s outfit conceded 19 goals in 12 friendlies since October. Jang Hyun-soo (£5.0m) was the only ever-present in the third round of AFC fixtures and has only just returned to the side following an injury lay-off.
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