Socceroos v South Korea: what to expect

​Goal Australia's Iain Strachan and Goal Korea's Yonghun Lee examine the two teams' prospects ahead of their Group A blockbuster at the Asian Cup on Saturday.

South Korea - Yonghun Lee 

1. How have the team performed in their first two Asian Cup matches?

Two wins and two clean sheets are acceptable but the mood is not good because performances have been far below expectations. We can say two wins is a very luck result. Head coach Uli Stielike has led the team for only a few months so it is natural that South Korea haven't reached their full potential.

They had been better in previous friendly matches, trying to play as Stielike wanted; keeping the ball well and trying to attack.

That hasn't been the case so far at the Asian Cup. The defence is as unstable as ever and the forwards haven't impressed either. The condition of players is very poor due to the virus that has swept through the camp. The medical and fitness staff failed to keep the players in peak condition at the World Cup and it is happening again. As a consequence, the media are disappointed and critical.

2. Who was most impressive player in the first two matches?

Ki Sung-yueng absolutely stands out thanks to his precise passing. But with an unstable defence and dull attack, there's not much he can do on his own. At least they had more of the ball than Oman in the opening game and much of that was down to Ki.

3. Who will be the most important player in the game against Australia and why?

It should be Son Heung-min. He's in poor condition after picking up the virus but he needs to be at best if South Korea want to score. He was impressive against Oman and his absence was felt against Kuwait as Korea managed only two shots in the first half.

4. Which opponent is the biggest threat in the game against Australia and why?

Robbie Kruse, if he plays. Both teams have already qualified, so this could be played at a slightly slower tempo and Ange Postecoglou may rest the Bayer Leverkusen man. But Kruse, should he feature, will want to keep showing what he can do and his eagerness for goals will be a threat to Korea's shaky rearguard.

5. Prediction/Expectation

I don't expect Korea to beat Australia to top the group and it's not even important now. What they need is a lift from an encouraging performance. A 2-2 draw with an exciting game would be nice.

Australia - Iain Strachan

1. How have the team performed in their first two Asian Cup matches?

Going into the tournament, if you'd have offered Ange Postecoglou or any Socceroos supporter two wins, with eight different scorers and only one goal conceded, they'd have snapped your hand off.

Other than a slightly slow start and somewhat shaky defensive showings during the opening stages of both matches, there's really no criticism that can be leveled at the national team.

They played with energy, intent, created plenty of chances and took a good amount of them, easing the goal-scoring burden on Tim Cahill. 

Massimo Luongo has announced himself as a force to be reckoned with, Robbie Kruse looks back to his best and even the absence of injured skipper Mile Jedinak wasn't felt in the dismantling of Oman.

2. Who was most impressive player in the first two matches?

Luongo has been the driving force behind Australia's flying start, but right-back Ivan Franjic, attacking midfielder James Troisi and hard-running wide forward Mathew Leckie also deserve plenty of credit, while goalkeeper Mathew Ryan has pulled off some terrific saves. 

There's barely been a bad performance across the two games, but the energy and work-rate of Luongo, Franjic, Troisi and Leckie in particular has been instrumental in the success of Postecoglou's high-tempo pressing game.

3. Who will be the most important player in the game against South Korea and why?

If Troisi, rested against Oman, returns to the starting XI alongside Luongo, the pair will be crucial in ensuring Australia use the ball wisely when they get it. The Socceroos won't be able to dominate possession in the same way they did against Kuwait and Oman, potentially resulting in fewer chances and a need to be more efficient in the final third.

4. Which opponent is the biggest threat in the game against South Korea and why?

Shutting down midfielder Ki Sung-yueng will be an important task for the Socceroos forwards and attacking midfielders. When the hosts are out of possession, they will need to swarm the Swansea City midfielder and prevent him from pulling the strings and setting the tempo in the middle of the park.

Further forward, a rearguard that has yet to be properly tested in open play must be wary of Son Heung-min, who - as far as Australia and their fans are concerned - will hopefully still be well below his best after picking up the illness that has affected the South Korea camp, forcing him to miss the game against Kuwait.

5. Prediction/Expectation

Postecoglou, his coaching staff and journalists, well aware of South Korea being significantly better than Kuwait and Oman, will want to sign off with another victory, although a draw will be enough to secure top spot in the group.