Jun 1, 2016 at 3.30pm UK
South KoreaSouth Korea
Silva (30'), Fabregas (32'), Nolito (38', 54'), Morata (50', 89')
FT(HT: 3-0)
Se-jong (83')

Preview: Spain vs. South Korea

Sports Mole looks ahead to the international friendly between Spain and South Korea at the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig.

Spain's preparations for Euro 2016 continue on Wednesday afternoon with a clash against South Korea in Austria.

While there may be very little for the Koreans to play for, if recent form is anything to go by, they could well provide stern opposition for their European counterparts.


Head coach Vicente Del Bosque of Spain faces the media during a press conference ahead of their international friendly match against Bolivia at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium on May 29, 2014© Getty Images

Put simply, Spain's defence of the World Cup two years ago was nothing short of disastrous.

Having won the three major tournaments that had preceded it, all eyes were on Vicente del Bosque's men in Brazil to see if they could make it four in a row.

However, the 5-1 hammering at the hands of the Netherlands set the tone, while a 2-0 defeat to Chile sealed a group-stage exit.

Key players like Xavi, David Villa and Iker Casillas had seen better days and have since retired from international football.

Now, there is a new guard, represented of late by Nolito. The striker booked his place in the squad thanks to his two-goal haul during the recent 3-1 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In terms of the Euros, the Spanish have already made history by becoming the first nation to retain the trophy four years ago. The task now is to extend that run.

Recent form (all competitions): WWWDDW

South Korea

Son Heung-Min has a rest during the Premier League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City on February 28, 2016© Getty Images

Not since they played the role of World Cup co-hosts 16 years ago has there been so much optimism around the South Korean national side.

Back then, the energetic men in red caused a big impression on the watching world as they reached the semi-finals, incidentally knocking Spain out on penalties along the way.

Considering the enthusiasm that swept the country during that time, the fact that head coach Uli Stielike has overseen a near return to those levels over the last couple of years highlights how positive a job he has done.

The reason for this is simple - good results. Since losing to Australia in the final of the AFC Asian Cup in January of 2015, South Korea have tasted defeat in none of their 16 outings.

Thirteen of those matches have ended in victories, including the last nine in a row. During that sequence, Stielike's men have scored 29 goals and conceded none.

The boss has selected just 20 players for the game against Spain and the next friendly with the Czech Republic. The thinking behind that decision is that he does not want players travelling long distances only to not get any minutes on the pitch.

Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWW

Team News

Defender Gerard Pique (R) grimaces during the Euro 2016 qualifying football match Spain vs Luxembourg at Las Gaunas stadium in Logrono on October 9, 2015© Getty Images

None of Spain's representatives from the Madrid duo, who contested the Champions League final, featured against Bosnia and that is expected to also be the case in this game.

Del Bosque should rotate his starting lineup, though, with the Barcelona players tipped to return.

That would mean the likes of Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets will all feature.

As for South Korea, their side could contain familiar faces in the form of Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min and Swansea City midfielder Ki Sung-yueng.

Spain possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Alba, Pique, San Jose, Bellerin; Bruno, Busquets, Thiago, Fabregas, Silva; Morata

South Korea possible starting lineup:
Sung-ryong; Tae-hwi, Jeong-ho, Hyun-soo, Kee-hee; Sung-yueng, Kook-young, Tae-hee, Jae-sung, Heung-min; Dong-won

Head To Head

South Korea are yet to beat Spain over 90 minutes, but as already mentioned, they did get the better of them on penalties in 2002.

Spain have won three meetings, including the most recent clash in 2012, which ended 4-1 in favour of the Europeans.

Their goalscorers on that occasion were Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso, Santi Cazorla and Alvaro Negredo.

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We say: Spain 2-1 South Korea

The South Koreans are known for having great stamina so they are bound to give Spain a decent game. With a number of changes to the starting lineup, it could be a disjointed display from Del Bosque's charges, with a draw being the most likely outcome.

Diego Costa is unhappy with a missed chance during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Manchester City on April 16, 2016
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