Mexico face a different challenge in their second Group F match against South Korea. Despite running a flawless counterattack against the Germans in their opener, it will be El Tri playing the role of instigator against a South Korean team desperate for a positive result.
Mexico vs. South Korea Squads
In the trio of Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez and Hirving Lozano, Mexico found a potent attack that caused Germany problems throughout.
In natural fashion, expect Juan Carlos Osorio to mess with a good thing. The Mexico manager did admit that a flu bug spreading around the team affected his substitution decisions in the opener, but his team is fully healthy entering Rostov Arena on Saturday.
One player that won’t be at risk of losing his spot is goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. Something just happens to this guy when he represents his country. Ochoa was supernatural against the defending World Cup champions, making several spectacular saves to record Mexico’s sixth clean sheet in eight matches.
Across the pitch, South Korea are also unlikely to change keepers. Despite falling 0-1 to Sweden on a penalty goal, Jo Hyeon-woo did make this miraculous save to keep his team in the game.
South Korea’s problems are on attack, where they will surely make adjustments. South Korea failed to record a shot on target against Sweden, and will look to come out firing against Ochoa and Mexico.
Korea deployed a 4-3-3 against Sweden, and it was largely ineffective. One player that didn’t see enough work is Spurs midfielder Son Heung-min.
“I think he’s the best of all the Asian players but if you look at the game against Sweden we faced a lot of difficulties,” manager Shin Tae-yong told reporters this week. “We had to play defensively and he had to sacrifice himself a lot and couldn’t play to the best of his abilities.”
“Tomorrow hopefully he’ll have more space and will be able to showcase his real ability,” he added.
Meanwhile, some of the Mexican players have warned against discounting South Korea following the huge win.
“We reached our first target and have beaten Germany, but we can’t sit back,” said Marco Fabian, who plays club football for Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany. “Some consider us to be group favorites now, and that’s a compliment — but it’s one we shouldn’t believe. There are no favorites in this World Cup.”
But there are favorites for Saturday. Mexico are the odds favorite to defeat South Korea, a win that would automatically send them through to the Round of 16. But the work is not done: Mexico are aiming to win the group, lest they finish second and likely face Brazil in the next round.
Mexico vs. South Korea Lineups
Lineups are released one hour before kickoff
Mexico: Ochoa, Salcedo, Moreno, Herrera, Alvarez, Layun, Guardado, Gallardo, Vela, Chicharito, Lozano
South Korea: Jo, Lee, W. Kim, G. Kim, Jang, Ju, Ki, Lee, Moon, Son, Hwang