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Can they overcome China's notoriously tough soccer and home territory? Following Singapore, Klinsmann will attempt to win back-to-back games against China in the World Cup Asia 2nd qualifying round.
The Korean national team, led by Jurgen Klinsmann, will play the second match of Group C of the 2026 North and Central America World Cup Asia 2nd qualifying round against China at the Universiade Sports Center in Shenzhen, China, at 9 p.m. on the 21st (Korean time).
The match against China is the Korean national team's last A match in 2023 and is an important match that will determine the direction of the team's passage to the second round of the Asian qualifying round.
China's home territory to be wary of - rough play
China, which is also in Group C of the Asian 2nd preliminary round, got off to a good start with a 2-1 comeback win in the first match against Thailand. As the possibility of advancing to the third preliminary round increased with the victory against Thailand, which will be fighting for second place in Group C, hopes for advancing to the 2026 North and Central America World Cup finals, where 8.33 tickets are given, began to be raised.
In one go, they overturned the criticism they received from their country's media and fans for their poor performance over a long period of time. Local Chinese media are predicting that this momentum will lead to good results in the Korean game as well.
However, the power gap between Korea and China is very large. China ranks 79th in the FIFA rankings, which is far lower than Korea (24th). In addition, Korea has an overwhelming advantage in the previous record with 21 wins, 13 draws and 2 losses. Korea has won all three recent games.
China is notorious for its enthusiastic home fans' support, home territory, and rough play. In particular, last June, the under-24 national team led by coach Hwang Seon-hong suffered a large number of injuries during an evaluation match away to China ahead of the Asian Games.
In the first match against Thailand, China consistently committed foul trouble, with four players receiving warnings. Above all, a major variable in this World Cup Asia 2nd qualifier is that decisions are made solely at the discretion of the referee without VAR.
'Streaming winning streak' Klinsmann, brilliant offensive line and stable defense
Coach Klinsmann said at a press conference held at the Universiade Sports Center in Shenzhen, China on the afternoon of the 20th, "I am looking forward to tomorrow's game as I have prepared quite well." He added, "The second qualifying round of the World Cup is an easy game. "I don't think there is any. The game against China will be quite difficult. We will respect the Chinese team and its players," he said.
Currently, Klinsmann's team atmosphere is at its peak. Since its launch, it has been stagnant with five consecutive games without a win, but starting with a victory against Saudi Arabia last September, it has defeated Tunisia, Vietnam, and Singapore. He has scored 4 or more points in the last 3 consecutive games.
The national team squad is being evaluated as the strongest of all time. In particular, looking at the offensive line, it is a lineup that is comparable to that of world-class teams. Son Heung-min and Hwang Hee-chan are in the top 10 of the Premier League's scoring rankings, and Lee Kang-in has earned a starting spot at Paris Saint-Germain. Even bench resources Hwang Ui-jo and Jung Woo-young are active in Europe.
Above all, it is very positive that the score distribution is diverse. A characteristic that appeared in the last match against Vietnam (6-0 win) and Singapore (5-0 win) was that no player scored multiple goals. All offensive players evenly scored one goal each. It means that anyone is equipped with a weapon that can score a goal anytime, anywhere.
What the Vietnam-Singapore game has in common is the attack-oriented formation of 4-1-3-2. The typical strategy is to place Cho Kyu-sung and Son Heung-min at the top two, with one defensive midfielder in front of the back four. Park Yong-woo took the first position in the Vietnam game, and Hwang In-beom took the first position in the Singapore game. In the second line, Hwang Hee-chan, Lee Jae-seong, and Lee Kang-in started for two consecutive games and showed off their sharp offensive ability.
Currently, the core of Klinsmann is definitely Lee Kang-in. He recorded 3 goals and 1 assist in the Tunisia-Vietnam game last October, and 1 goal and 1 assist in this game against Singapore, and has 4 goals and 2 assists in the last 3 games alone. Expectations are high as he is showing peak performance, including brilliant footwork, ball keeping, wide vision, creativity, and passing ability.
I feel reassured that Kim Min-jae is holding on from the back. It is also the driving force behind Klinsmann's 5 consecutive games without giving up a goal. Minjae Kim played for Beijing Guoan, China just two years ago. Afterwards, he moved to Fenerbahce and entered the European stage, then went on to play Naples before joining mega club Bayern Munich this season.
Kim Min-jae boasted of his superiority in the air, scoring with headers in both the 2019 Asian Cup match against China and the 2019 East Asian Cup match against China. Additionally, most of the Chinese national team squad are members of the Chinese Super League. He probably knows the characteristics of each player better than anyone else.
Tuesday, November 21, 2023
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