South Korea take on Greece in their opening Group B fixture on Saturday – Gavin Beech gives you his best World Cup bets.

Group B
South Korea v Greece
Port Elizabeth Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick off: 12:30pm BST.

Considering the strength of the other two teams in Group B, Argentina and Nigeria, this clash between South Korea and Greece could well prove decisive.

Argentina are undoubted group favourites, while the other three will all feel they are in with a chance of reaching the last 16.

South Korea defender Lee Jung-Soo has underlined the importance of his side’s first game of the group phase.

“First of all, I believe that we have to do well in the Greece match in order to proceed to the last 16. We are thoroughly analysing each individual’s characteristics, weaknesses and strengths,” said Lee on the official FIFA website.

“We believe that we have to win the Greece game in order to go to the first knockout round, and therefore we will be focused on winning this match. And we’d also like to show the South Korean people that we are one step closer to the next round.”

Although Saturday’s clash will be the first time these two sides have met at a World Cup, there have been two previous encounters between the two nations, most recently in 2007 when South Korea defeat the then-European champions 1-0.

South Korea, who have become a regional powerhouse since reaching the semi-finals when they co-hosted the World Cup in 2002, were the only team to remain undefeated in Asian Zone qualifying, with seven victories and a draw.

The Greeks, meanwhile, had to come through a tricky play-off tie with Ukraine to book their place at the finals.

Ji-Sung Park is the undisputed star of the South Korea. Thanks to his exploits with Manchester United, the midfielder enjoys iconic status in his homeland and in 2008 became the first ever Asian player to win the Champions League.

Having recovered from a slight hamstring injury, the 29-year-old faces an intriguing midfield battle with Georgios Karagounis. The Panathinaikos captain is known as the heartbeat of the Greece side and will be doing his best to break down the Korean attacks.

Striker Lee Dong-guk was expected to miss at least the opener Greece but has made a speedy recovery from a thigh injury and could play a part in the game.

Greece, playing in only their second World Cup finals, will be hoping to erase the memories of their previous appearance at USA ’94, when the side lost all three group games, conceding 10 goals in the process.

Greece coach, Otto Rehhagel has pleaded with his squad to make the most of their opportunity at the World Cup.

“It is a unique experience our participation in the World Cup,” he said. “We are going there not just to enjoy our participation. There is enthusiasm on the team and the atmosphere is excellent.

“South Korea is an excellent team and as in every World Cup match, you must give a 100 percent effort to accomplish a good result.

Greece defender Vangelis Moras will miss the match in Port Elizabeth with a thigh problem.
His absence could mean that midfielder Kostantinos Katsouranis drops back to play as a central defender.

“We must play like we did in the qualification playoff match against Ukraine (a 1-0 away win by Greece which enabled them to qualify for the World Cup). We have to be ready both physically and mentally. We are going to the World Cup with great confidence,” said striker Giorgos Samaras.

South Korea: Lee Woon-jae; Lee Young-pyo, Lee Jung-soo, Kwak Tae-hui, Cha Du-ri; Lee Chung-yong, Ki Sung-yeung, Kim Jung-woo, Park Ji-sung; Park Chu-young; Lee Keun-ho

Greece: Tzorvas; Spyropoulos, Kyriakos, Moras, Vyntra; Katsouranis, Tziolis, Karagounis; Charisteas, Gekas, Samaras.

South Korea take on Greece in their opening Group B fixture on Saturday – Gavin Beech gives you his best World Cup bets.

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