As South Korea edge towards their opening World Cup clash, they take on Bolivia on Thursday afternoon. With no South American side in their squad, this does feel like an odd choice for the Tigers, who are going up against the second worst side in the South American qualifying campaign. It’s also a rare trip to Europe for the Bolivians, who tend to prefer their home ground, given the bonus they have with their altitude. Their ground is one of the hardest places to go in that qualifying zone, but they’re a little tame on the road.
That should make this a straightforward clash for the South Koreans, who will expect to grab a morale boosting victory. They’re in World Cup action just 11 days after this friendly, as they open up against Sweden in Nizhny Novgorod. South Korea have a tough ask to make it out of a group which includes Mexico and Germany, and that’s only going to get tougher if they approach the tournament with an awful run of form behind them.
They have to return to form with a victory against Bolivia, and this should be an easier clash than their recent defeat to Bosnia-Herzegovina. The visitors have a squad which is really light on European experience, and they’re likely to start with just one or two at most who ply their trade on the continent. There’s little talent of note in the Bolivia squad, and you have to expect them to struggle when you consider their troubles away from home.
The visitors conceded 26 times in nine away trips during qualifying, and they lost all of those matches. Their recent record in friendlies isn’t great either, having lost five of their previous seven on the road. Their only two matches in which they avoided defeat came against Curacao and Nicaragua, so South Korea should be really worried if they can’t come away from this friendly with a victory.
While they’ve suffered setbacks against the likes of Poland and Bosnia of late, South Korea have claimed recent victories to nil over Moldova, Latvia and Honduras. They should be defensively secure enough to repeat that this weekend, especially as they look to build a structure which can withstand the world champions. We can see South Korea taking advantage of Bolivia’s awful record at the back, so we’re backing South Korea to win by at least two goals, with a -1 handicap our tip on this game.
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Thee two sides last met at the 1994 World Cup, which saw them draw 0-0 in the United States.
South Korea have had no major fitness issues since announcing their World Cup squad, they could make a few changes and explore their options in this clash.
Bolivia’s 28-man squad for this one is almost entirely domestic-based, with very little European experience to choose from.