What to expect from Korea, Brazil’s rival in the round of 16?

Heung-min Son catches the ball still in the defense field and starts running against three opposing defenders. Even surrounded by so many markers, he finds an opening, makes a millimetric pass and puts Hee-chan Hwang in a position to finish.

The goal that decreed the comeback of South Korea over Portugal, last Friday, serves as a demonstration of the care that Brazil needs to take in the match against the Asian team, at 4 pm (Brasília time) tomorrow, at stadium 974, in Doha, for the Round of 16 of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

To begin with, it is mandatory that Son has no space to play. It’s no wonder that the South Korean number 7 built a successful career in the English Premier League, the national championship with the highest technical level on the planet (he’s already shared the role of Tottenham with Harry Kane for eight seasons).

The Asian star is fast, skilful and a great finisher. But his greatest virtue is his far above average intelligence, which makes him one of the best strikers in world football. The captain of Brazil’s next opponent has a reading worthy of the great stars, which makes him an excellent organizer of attacks and creator of plays.

The partnership with Hwang, finally recovered from an injury that undermined his start in the World Cup, works very well because the center forward is also used to the movements typical of the elite of English football and gives him the passing options that Son begs so much for. The number 9 has passed through RB Leipzig and currently defends Wolverhampton.

Another concern that Brazil needs to have is an old cliché, but one that still makes a lot of sense. South Korea runs a lot, a lot. Its players are fast to the extreme and will make a mad dash for those weakened by physical problems or improvised laterals that Tite takes to the field.

Although, under the command of Portuguese Paulo Bento, the Asian team has ceased to depend exclusively on counterattacks and has acquired the habit of controlling ball possession, it is unlikely that this facet will appear in the confrontation of the round of 16.

Aware that all the responsibility in the knockout matches is on Brazil’s shoulders, Korea must play with the lowest marking lines and bet on speed exits, especially on the sides of the field. Therefore, it is necessary for the five-time world champions to find an antidote to contain all this rush.

Being among the top eight at a World Cup is practically a historical obligation in Brazilian tradition. The last time the team didn’t reach the quarterfinals was 32 years ago, in Italy-1990, when it was eliminated by Argentina, in the round of 16.

The winner of the match between the Canadian team and the South Koreans will face in the next round of knockouts the winner of Japan x Croatia, who play the other game tomorrow, at noon, in Al-Wakrah.

The Qatar Cup is the first to be held in the Middle East and features seven of the eight teams that have already lifted the cup. For the second consecutive edition, the four-time champion Italy failed to qualify and is low – in addition, Germany and Uruguay were eliminated in the first phase.

The tournament is being played at the end of the year, and not in its usual period (June and July), because of the heat in the host country during the height of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

This is the last edition of the FIFA competition with the format that has been used for 24 years, since France-1998. From the next World Cup, organized by the United States, Canada and Mexico, there will be 48 participants in the dispute for the title.

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