It is brutal reality, but almost no major international media believe Korea is likely to advance beyond the group stage in Brazil. ESPN on Wednesday ranked Korea 25th out of 32 countries at this year's World Cup. As for other countries in Group H, Belgium was ranked seventh, Russia 18th, and Algeria 31st.
Goal.com also predicted that Belgium and Russia will advance to the round of 16 from Group H. "With 10 defeats and just seven wins to their name over the last 22 fixtures, Hong-Myung Bo's side are no longer the team that reached the semifinals in 2002, and are worth backing at generous 2/1 (3.00) odds to finish bottom of the group this summer," it wrote.
U.S. channel NBC and the BBC of the U.K. also had similar predictions. Citing England legend Gary Lineker, the BBC forecast that Belgium will finish at the top of Group H and Russia second. NBC pointed out, "The side's inexperienced center backs could prove problematic, while Park Chu-young may not give them the threat they need in the middle of attack."
But Sports Illustrated predicted Korea will qualify along with Belgium. SI introduced Ki Sung-yueng as a player to watch in the Korean team, but went on to add, "South Korea suffers similar concentration issues, conceding 55 percent of its goals on set pieces during qualifying. (Only Iran was worse.) That's surprising for a team whose only hope is to outwork opponents and play pristine soccer, given that midfielder Son Heung-min (nine goals for Germany's Bayer Leverkusen) is the lone consistent scoring threat."
In order for Korea to have any hope in advancing to the round of 16, various media stressed the importance of beating Russia in the first match. ESPN picked this as the "biggest battle" and "arguably the most crucial match in the group, with Belgium favorites to progress, and these two supposedly competing to join them. Whoever wins will be in an extremely strong position."
Goal.com also did not rule out the possibility of Korea advancing, provided that it beats Russia. In this case, Goal.com believes Korea could possibly reach the quarterfinals.