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Thursday, June 17, 2010

ARGENTINA vs SOUTH KOREAN >>> Match Previews


Johannesburg's Soccer City is the setting for the summit meeting of the joint leaders of Group B. Diego Maradona's Argentina dazzled in bursts when defeating Nigeria 1-0 in their opening fixture while South Korea top the group on goal difference thanks to a 2-0 victory over Greece. A win for either side on Thursday, coupled with a draw in the later kick-off between Greece and Nigeria, will ensure qualification for the latter stages.
There is little doubt that prior to the tournament, the mysterious North Koreans aside, Argentina were the team generating the most intrigue, thanks chiefly to the unpredictable nature of their coach. But Maradona's side produced one of the more memorable performances of a poor first round of games in their victory over Nigeria. With Lionel Messi close to his scintillating best, only a superb performance from goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama prevented them from enjoying a more comfortable margin of victory.

Argentina will be deprived of Juan Sebastian Veron after he was removed in the second half of the Nigeria victory due to a muscle injury, with Liverpool's Maxi Rodriguez expected to replace him in midfield. Otherwise, Maradona could field the same side - a rare display of consistency from a coach who chopped and changed with alarming regularity during qualification.

South Korea could welcome back striker Lee Dong-Gook following a thigh injury and will possibly adopt a more conservative shape against the South Americans. However, in their game against Greece, Huh Jung-Moo's men demonstrated why they are Asia's finest side with a positive, controlled and cultured performance. The iconic Park Ji-Sung scored a memorable goal and more magic will be required if South Korea are to cling on to top spot.
Argentina player to watch: Lionel Messi
It is hardly an original choice, but Messi was electric in spells against Greece and was desperately unlucky not to get a goal. The Barcelona star is often said to perform at a superior level for his club than his country, but appears ready to put that particular accusation to bed. Expect fireworks.

South Korea player to watch: Park Chu-Young
The Monaco forward was a sprightly presence against Greece and has a sizeable reputation to uphold. As one of South Korea's leading players, much is expected of the 24-year-old and he could cause a suspect Argentina backline some problems.

Key battle: Gonzalo Higuain v Jung Sung-Ryong
Higuain saw a succession of chances come and go against Nigeria as he was denied by the inspired Enyeama, and will be looking to make amends on Thursday. He scored 27 goals in 32 league games for Real Madrid last season and Jung will need to be on top form to frustrate him further.

Trivia: Argentina beat South Korea 3-1 in the first round of the 1986 World Cup, with Diego Maradona providing all three assists for his side. South Korea coach Huh Jung-Moo was the man assigned to mark Maradona on the day.
Stats: Only Maradona, with nine, has produced more World Cup assists for Argentina since 1966 than Juan Sebastian Veron, who has claimed five.
It all depends on Argentina. Do not expect a rout by any means, as South Korea are a fine side in their own right. It will be tight, and a minor shock could be on the cards.
Take OVER 2 1/4 Goals Q odds 2.10

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