2014 WORLD CUP SOCCER
Kickoff: Thursday, 4:00 p.m. EDT
Arena Corinthians – Sao Paulo, Brazil
Belgium -140, South Korea +350, Tie +295
Over/Under: 2.5 Goals (Over -105, Under -125)
Group H play concludes on Thursday with heavily-favored Belgium needing only a draw with desperate South Korea to win the group.
South Korea was pummeled 4-2 versus Algeria in their most recent game, but still have a mathematical chance at advancement due to a 1-1 tie earned in the tournament opener. But the Taeguk Warriors need to beat the Red Devils by at least three goals and hope that Russia beats Algeria in a game played simultaneously with this one. Belgium, which won both of its matches so far (2-1 versus Algeria and 1-0 over Russia), needs only a draw to assure themselves of being the group champion, and a they could still take Group H with a loss combined with an Algeria defeat or draw.
South Korea held the possession advantage against both Russia (52% to 48%) and Algeria (54% to 46%), but has been outshot 31-19 in the World Cup, including 18-12 in shots on goal. They didn't attempt a single shot during the first half of their loss to Algeria. The Taeguk Warriors have been very disciplined this tournament with only one offsides call and just 20 fouls committed, compared to 31 fouls for their opponents. However, South Korea has amassed five yellow cards already with defenseman Lee Yong and midfielder Han Kookyoung picking up cards versus Algeria to join forward Son Heung-min and midfielders Ki Sung-yueng and Koo Ja-Cheol all getting booked in the World Cup opener. Hueng-min and Ja-Cheol were the goal scorers versus Algeria and will try to spend most of their time in the Belgium half of the field for a Taeguk Warriors team desperate to tally at least three goals on Thursday.
Belgium has a pedestrian three goals in two World Cup matches -- all from substitute players (midfielders Marouane Fellaini, Dries Mertens and forward Divock Origi), but they have created several great chances with 27 total shots, and 17 of those winding up on net. The Red Devils have also held a possession advantage in each game, with 65% possession versus Algeria and 53% against Russia. But they have also been extremely dangerous with their challenges with 34 fouls and three yellow cards issued to midfielder Axel Witsel and defensemen Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. But Belgium's defense remains top-notch, with the only goal allowed this tournament coming off a penalty kick as the result of Vertonghen's silly decision to grab his opponent by the arm in the box. Center back Vincent Kompany was able to play through a groin injury in the last match, and is virtually 100 percent healthy for Thursday. As the leader of his team's great counter-attack, Kompany will play a big role in determining the fate of Group H.