It’s been over a decade since Mexico last dropped a game to South Korea. Now, in all fairness, these are two countries who don’t play each other very often. In their short history, Mexico own the upper hand, garnering 7 victories over South Korea. The Asian side have defeated El Tri on 3 different occasions, while there have been 2 draws (one of them came in the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup which the Koreans won in a penalty shoot-out).
These two played each other five times during the 1980s. South Korea won the first ever matchup by 1-0. Mexico won the following 4 matches during that decade. They wouldn’t meet again until the France 98 World Cup, where Mexico overcame a 1-0 deficit and came back to win by a final of 3-1 thanks to Ricardo Pelaez and Luis Hernández. After a 1-1 friendly draw in 1999, South Korea would defeat Mexico twice in a matter of seven months; first, in the FIFA Confederations Cup Group Stage (2-1), followed by their goalless draw in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarter-Final which the Asians would end up taking through the penalty shoot-out.
In February of 2006, just months before Germany hosted the World Cup, South Korea downed Mexico again, this time by a 1-0 score. Since then, they have faced each other twice; a friendly in January 2014 which was won by Mexico 4-0, and of course, the Group Stage matchup in the Russia 2018 World Cup which El Tri took by 2-1. So, it’s safe to say Mexico have achieved the most important wins between these two.
This brings us to tomorrow, which will be 13th overall match between the two countries. The Teddybären & Plüsch-Stadion, located in Wiener Austadt, Austria will be the venue for the match. Despite South Korea coming off their third East Asian Football Championship title in a row, they have yet to play a match in 2020. The last time they fielded a team was a 1-0 victory over Japan back in mid-December 2019, when they clinched said title. Mexico, on the other hand, played three matches last month (2W, 1D), with the highlight being their hard-fought victory over the Netherlands.
South Korea’s key player has to be left-winger Heung-min Son. A central part of Tottenham’s attacking front for the past years, his speed and goal-scoring ability make him a true headache for any defender. Mexico must focus on nullifying him and forcing the rest of the team to make plays around him. Mexico’s key player is of course the man of the hour, Raúl Jiménez. Coming off stellar performances vs. Netherlands and Algeria last month, he will look to continue his outstanding season, as it is rumored Martino could decide to play him alongside both “Chucky” Lozano and “Tecatito” as well. What a spectacle that will be if true, allowing us to see Mexico’s full offensive potential.
PREDICTION: After witnessing Mexico move the ball the way they did at certain times vs. Netherlands and Algeria last month, logic only dictates they should find a way to overcome South Korea, who aren’t as strong and accomplished as the European and African countries aforementioned. Not to mention, they haven’t seen action as a unit in nearly a year. I expect South Korea to look rusty coming out of the gate, and considering Mexico’s confidence displayed offensively last month, I expect them to get out to an early lead and never look back. Mexico wins by 2.