Head To Head: Ghana vs Korea Republic


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You're more than capable; make us proud – Nana Addo to Black Stars

Ghana will face the Korea Republic in a must-win game on Monday, 28th November in the Education City Stadium in Qatar. Opta has given the Koreans a 40.9% chance of winning compared to 31.3% for the Black Stars, which means the Koreans are slight favourites. The betting odds are also similar with most markets having Korea as slight favourites. By all accounts this will be a close game but where can the game be won or lost?

In terms of Head-to-Head, there is not much to separate them. They have played 9 times with each side winning 4 times and a solitary draw. Most of these games have been friendlies meaning the intensity was likely lower. Ghana edges the goals tally with 14 – 12 and have won 3 of the last 4 meetings over 8 years from 2006 to 2014 when these sides last faced each other in a pre-World Cup friendly.

In qualifying, the Koreans had the superior record; in the 3rd round of AFC qualifying, they finished second in group A behind Iran with 23 points from a possible 30. They scored 13 goals (1.3 a game) whilst conceding only 3 (0.3 a game). Ghana on the other hand were less prolific, averaging a goal a game in their 8 games (6 group stage games plus playoffs) whilst conceding 4 goals for a record of 4 wins, 3 draws, and a defeat which would have equated to 15 points from a possible 24.

Ghana rode their luck in their last 3 games to reach the World Cup, in their last group stage game against South Africa it took a controversial penalty to get the result and win the group. Then in their two-legged playoff against Nigeria, they ground out a dour 1-0 aggregate win courtesy of a Thomas Partey strike which, in all honesty, the Nigerian keeper should have saved. The Koreans, on the other hand, went into the March international break already qualified and beat eventual group winners Iran 2-0 before succumbing to a shock defeat to the United Arab Emirates.

So far at this World Cup, however, the Black Stars have looked more dangerous than the Taegeuk Warriors. The Black Stars succumbed to a 3-2 defeat against Portugal in the first round of fixtures whilst Korea and Uruguay played out a drab 0-0 draw.

Known as the Tigers of Asia they looked quite toothless against their South American opponents registering a meagre xG of 0.5 and no shots on target. The Black Stars were a bit more potent, registering 2 goals from an xG of 0.9 in their game.

Based on their last game the Korea Republic will look to win the ball high up the pitch with their 14 high turnovers being the highest of all teams through round 1 of the group stages. Ghana on the other hand managed only 6. The Koreans winning the ball high up meant that their attacks started closer to the goal than most teams in the tournament, and their pressing game should be a concern for the Black Stars.

Their approach also had them move the ball much faster up the field, with 15.1% of their passes going long, compared to 11.1% for Ghana. Despite Ghana having a much lower percentage of possession in their game, they played only about 40 passes fewer than the Koreans. This predictably meant that the Black Stars had about 4% better pass accuracy than Monday’s opponents.

Despite passing better in general, Ghana were sloppier in the final third, completing only 57.53% of their passes in that zone, as opposed to 61.78% for the Koreans. Worryingly the Koreans completed close to 100 passes more in the final third than the Ghanaians. Yet the Ghanaians managed 19 penalty area entries to 18, showing that the Koreans did not make much of their opportunities.

The Koreans relied a lot more on wing play with 16 open-play crosses with only 8 from Ghana. It should be noted that the Koreans have identified full-back as a position of weakness within the Black Stars set up so expect them to build on these crossing numbers.

It will be a keenly-contested game but the Korean attack has not looked potent and the Black Stars should be able to keep them quiet for 90 mins.


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