Sweden completed a reasonably comfortable 1-0 win over South Korea to record their first opening game victory since 1958. Here are our 2 quick takeaways from the game.
Sweden Have A Chance To Go A Long Way
Having despatched Italy in the playoffs to reach these finals, Sweden had shown they had some pedigree. They are strong and well organized at the back and very compact. Despite some lack of space, they were rarely exposed by the faster Korean players. They weren’t seriously troubled at the back all game with Korea only getting in behind once. South Korean mustered just 5 shots, none of which troubled Olsen between the sticks.
While South Korea aren’t expected to progress, it was a surprising clinical win by the Swedes. Creating three great chances in the first half, they could have been out of sight if Berg had proven more capable in front of goal. If the Swedes can maintain this level of composure they have a good chance of progressing from the group, especially given Germany’s shock defeat to Mexico yesterday. They don’t look likely to concede many goals, so they only need a modicum of goal support to be a real threat.
Goalscoring Could Be A Problem For Both Teams
Despite dominating the game, and having 15 shots, the Swede’s only hit the target 4 times. South Korea had 5 shots and didn’t hit the target at all. While it’s easy to criticise a lack of clinical finishing, it was seriously evident in this game. Both teams looked well organized and good on the ball, but goal scoring is an issue.
Swedish number 9 Marcus Berg, had 3 shots from within 10 yards, two of them from almost dead-center, but failed to score. Playing his trade in the UAE may not keep his skills as tightly honed as they could be, but he needs to finish those kinds of chances if Sweden are going to go along way.
South Korea struggled to create chances as well as finish. Two of their shots were long range hit and hopes, and only two were closer than twelve yards out. While we know that Son can finish in the Premier League, he is much too isolated in the Korean setup. He didn’t manage a single shot as Sweden focussed on restricting him all game.
The Koreans will need to find a way to get him on the ball in dangerous situations. If they are to stand any chance of threatening the goal they need to get more players involved. They spent a lot of the game sitting deep and looking to hit on the break, but this is a dangerous tactic when you really only have one attacking talent.