International Football

South Korea vs. Brazil: Highlighting the Top Stars to Watch

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 10: Lucas Moura #7 of Brazil carries the ball past Miguel Veloso #4 of Portugal in the second half during the international friendly match at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Greg JohnsonSpecial to Bleacher ReportOctober 11, 2013

Being the host nation of a World Cup during the tournament's qualifying rounds can be harder than the fixture list suggests.

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 10: Neymar #10 of Brazil celebrates with teammate Bernard #20 following his goal in the first half against Portugal during the international friendly match at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Having automatically qualified, the lack of competitive games in the run-up to the competition's finals can affect a team similarly to how space flight degrades the human body.

Without the gravity of meaningful games to hold a team to account and together, even the most talented and well-versed potential home champions can lose their shape, focus and intensity ahead of their own World Cup.

That's why well thought out friendlies are important for host nations while other countries battle for the right to attend their party. As such, they must be treated as more than a Harlem Globetrotters-style excuse to cash-in on a well marketed team such as Brazil.

South Korea have already booked their tickets to the samba nation for the summer, and will attempt to prove their worth to the tournament by challenging Luiz Felipe Scolari's team on Saturday October 12 in Seoul.

Neymar: out for the friendly against South Korea.
Neymar: out for the friendly against South Korea.Daniel Kopatsch/Getty Images

Brazil and Barcelona superstar Neymar is a major doubt for the game having picked up a knock to his hip in training, but with the visitors set to experiment and test their squad, his absence won't diminish the potential glamour of the fixture.

With a number of top stars set to feature, here are the players to watch in South Korea's friendly clash with Brazil.

 

Moura in action against Japan.
Moura in action against Japan.Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Lucas Moura

Paris Saint-German's tricky winger may not be lighting up the French capital as the club may have hoped, but with Neymar injured, the former Sao Paulo player will be given the chance to take centre stage against South Korea.

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 24:  Lucas Moura of PSG looks on during the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain FC and Olympique de Marseille at Parc des Princes on February 24, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

He would do well to make the most of the opportunity too. Unless he can make himself integral to Scolari's plans heading into the summer, his poor club form could finally catch up with him, cutting off his steady supply of international caps.

The spectators in Seoul may be in for a treat should Moura take to the field feeling he has a point or two to prove.

 

Son Heung-Min

Bayer Leverkusen's creative South Korean was signed by the Bundesliga club as the successor to Andre Schuerrle who left for Chelsea in the summer.

Son lines-up against Manchester United.
Son lines-up against Manchester United.Michael Regan/Getty Images

Son may not have quite filled the German international's boots just yet, but as the league's seventh-most-successful dribbler so far this season, via WhoScored.com, he will be hoping show that Brazil aren't the only nation to produce players able to take on defenders.

The former Hamburg forward managed to score two goals in South Korea's 4-1 victory over Haiti back in September, and he is likely to be well involved in his country's attacking play against the visiting World Cup hosts.

 

David Luiz

Jose Mourinho singled out Luiz after Chelsea's disappointing home defeat to Basel in the Champions League in September, but over the past couple of weeks the Brazilian centre-back has come back into form in a major way.

Big performances against Steaua Bucuresti and Norwich City appear to have won back Mourinho's trust, and the skilful defender will be seeking to continue his good run of games for his country against South Korea.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 30:  David Luiz of Brazil celebrates at the end of the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Final match between Brazil and Spain at Maracana on June 30, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Luiz is one of the most entertaining centre-backs in world football, with his propensity to step out from the back and desire to drive up field and attack the opponent's goal directly.

While his methods may be risky, especially if his team's opponents are able to attack the space he can often leave behind, his ability to get back and prevent them from doing so is testament to his underrated awareness of the game around him.

The Chelsea player may seek to pop up with a few chances on goal against South Korea, either from set pieces in the box or as a long-range threat from well outside of it.

 

INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 06:  Koo Ja-Cheol of South Korea celebrates after scoring a goal during the international friendly match between South Korea and Haiti at the Incheon Stadium on September 6, 2013 in Incheon, South Korea.  (Photo by Chung S
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Koo Ja-Cheol

Another exciting South Korean in the Bundesliga, Wolfsburg's Koo boasts a decent 88.9 percent pass completion rate for his club, via WhoScored.com, and will be looking to act as his country's passing hub against Brazil.

DOHA, QATAR - JANUARY 28:  Uzbekistan goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov is beaten by a shot from Koo Ja Cheol of Korea Republic during the AFC Asian Cup 3rd place playoff match between Uzbekistan and Korea Republic at Al-Sadd Stadium on January 28, 2011 in Doha
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Koo was another goalscorer in South Korea's 4-1 win over Haiti and is well regarded for his ability to score from midfield. That's not the only strength of his game however, which is predominantly all about through balls and keeping his team ticking over when in possession.

As one of the key figures in South Korea's third-place finishes in the 2011 Asian Cup and London 2012 Olympic games, which secured the bronze medal for this country, Koo was a vital figure, scoring and creating goals to lift his team to glory.

 

Bernard

Having moved from Atletico Mineiro, where he drummed up a famous combination with Ronaldinho, to Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer, the diminutive attacking midfielder hasn't played as much as he might have liked for the Ukrainian champions.

Yet Shakhtar's policy has long been one of slow integration when purchasing Brazilian youngsters, so his lack of game time at club level is no reflection on his quality or mental strength, with Scolari's endorsement of Bernard based on his impressive body of work while in Brazil.

Unleashed for his country, he will look to push his case for inclusion in the final squad for the summer by seeking out the likes of Moura, Hulk and Alexandre Pato with his passing, as well as going it alone to attack South Korea's goal himself.

 

Which players are you most looking forward to watching?

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