Monday, June 17, 2024

Prediction: South Korea vs China

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 10 Jun 2024

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Verdict: Total goals under 3.5

Best odds: 13/20

Bookmaker: Unibet

South Korea, having secured the top spot in their AFC qualification group with 13 points, will host China at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on Tuesday in an AFC World Cup qualifier that could significantly impact China’s prospects for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup and the 2026 World Cup.

The hosts have already qualified for both the Asian Cup and the third round of Asia’s World Cup qualifiers. In contrast, China, currently second in their group with eight points, must at least draw to secure advancement.

South Korea

From a statistical standpoint, the hosts have every reason to be pleased with their AFC qualifying campaign so far, remaining unbeaten with four wins in five matches.

South Korea have found the back of the opposition net 19 times while conceding just once, making them joint top scorers and tying for the second-best defensive record in the qualifiers.

Despite these on-field successes, the team has faced some off-field challenges following the dismissal of manager Jürgen Klinsmann in February. Klinsmann, who became unpopular due to a variety of issues, oversaw poor performances in the 2024 AFC Asian Cup, where his team was eliminated by Jordan in the semifinals.

Team News

Despite boasting a strong squad, the hosts will be without Bayern Munich defender Kim Min-jae, who is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained in early May.

In their most recent match against Singapore, South Korea introduced an almost entirely new defensive lineup, with only left-back Kim Jin-su keeping his spot from the previous game against Thailand.

Given that this will be Kim Do-hoon’s second match in charge, significant changes from the lineup that secured his first win are unlikely.

China

The visitors approach this game in starkly different form compared to the hosts. While South Korea boast 11 wins in their last 15 matches, China have only managed to win seven of their previous 30 fixtures.

Nonetheless, China have been fairly competitive in recent matches, suffering just one loss in the current AFC World Cup qualifiers. They have scored nine goals and conceded eight.

Notably, this sole defeat was a 3-0 loss to their upcoming opponents in November 2023.

Appointed in February, manager Branko Ivankovic brings valuable experience from his previous tenure in China, where he led Shandong Luneng Taishan to a Chinese Super League title in 2010 with a then-club-record 63 points. However, Ivankovic’s tenure with Oman was less successful, despite a notable win against Japan in 2021. He was dismissed in 2023 after failing to advance beyond the group stage of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

In his current position, Ivankovic has overseen one win and one draw, with his team scoring five goals and conceding twice.

To secure automatic qualification for the next AFC Asian Cup and maintain their 2026 World Cup aspirations, China need just one more point, as third-placed Thailand have only five points.

Team News

China will be hoping to avoid needing another late goal from Yuning Zhang, who came off the bench to score a crucial equalizer with just 10 minutes left in last Thursday’s match against Thailand.

In the previous game, Alan and Fernandinho were the starting forwards, but manager Ivankovic is expected to bring back Zhang and Wu Lei to the attack, given their recent starts in two of the last three matches.

Midfielder Yuanyi Li will miss this game due to a red card received against Singapore in late March, but he will be available for selection again after this final qualifier.

Conclusion

China have shown competitiveness in the AFC World Cup qualifiers but historically have a poor record against South Korea.

However, if the visitors adopt a defensive approach to maintain their three-goal advantage over group rivals Thailand, breaking them down could prove challenging for the home side. Still, a narrow South Korea win seems the likeliest outcome.

Verdict: Total goals under 3.5

Best odds: 13/20

Bookmaker: Unibet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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