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Held off the scoresheet in Argentina's World Cup opener, playmaking star Lionel Messi, right, looks to get on track against South Korea. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

Day 7, Match 1

Argentina vs. South Korea, Group B

Date and Location

June 17, Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg

Broadcast details

Live on CBC and CBCSports.ca (7 a.m. ET). Consult CBC's full broadcast schedule.

What's at stake

Argentina defeated Nigeria 1-0 in its opening game, while South Korea posted a 2-0 victory over Greece. As a result, the Argentines and South Koreans are tied for first place in Group B with three points apiece, while winless Nigeria and Greece pick up the rear.

This is a critical game for both sides as a win would land that team in first place in Group B and put them in the driver's seat with six points and one game to go in the first round.

A tie wouldn't be disastrous for Argentina, as its last match of the group stage is against lowly Greece, who has yet to win a game in two World Cups after making their tournament debut in 1994.

South Korea, on the other hand, faces a tricky Nigeria side in its final encounter of the group stage, so anything less than a victory against Argentina would mean their chances of advancing to the second round would go down to the wire.

Suspension watch

Jonas Gutierrez earned a yellow card in Argentina's previous match. If he receives a another against South Korea, he will be suspended for Argentina's final game of the group stage.  South Korea doesn`t have any players on a yellow card.

Rogers Pre-game Show

Watch the Rogers Pre-game show  30 minutes before kick-off as our panel of soccer experts provide up-to-the-minute news from South Africa on this match.

 

Player to watch for Argentina

Gabriel Heinze — The tough-tackling defender netted the winner for Argentina against Nigeria, scoring with a powerful header off a free kick. Heinze is coach Diego Maradona's defensive marshal, but it will be interesting to see if he ventures forward in attack after finding the net against the Nigerians.

Player to watch for South Korea

Lee Jung-Soo — Like Heinze, Lee Jung-Soo is a centre-back who scored for South Korea off a set piece against Greece. The South Korean possesses good speed, which he uses to great effect in joining the attack, and to recover to get back into position when the other team has the ball.

Key match-up

Lionel Messi vs. Park Ji-Sung — They play for two of the biggest clubs in the world (Messi for FC Barcelona, Park Ji-Sung with Manchester United), and both are talented playmakers and serve as the creative fulcrums of their national teams. Messi is the best player in the world, but Park Ji-Sung is a talented star who doesn't quite receive the recognition he deserves. A strong performance against Argentina would go a long way to change that.

The Argentine perspective

"It was a little worrying that we couldn't score a second [goal] but Nigeria made it a little difficult for us. More importantly I feel that we played well. We have gained confidence from these three points, now we are focusing on the second game."  — defender Jonas Gutierrez

The South Korean perspective

"Argentina are one of the candidates for the title, they have a lot of good players, but I have told my players to remain confident. No matter how strong they are, if we do what we have to do, we can manage to grow. Just because it's Argentina one shouldn't be defeatist." — coach Huh Jung-Moo

World Cup head-to-head

  • Games played:1
  • Argentina:  1 win, 0 losses, 0 draws
  • South Korea: 0 wins, 1 loss, 0 draws
  • Goals:  Argentina 3, South Korea 1
  • Last match: South Korea met Argentina in the group stage of the 1986 World Cup, and La Albiceleste won 3-1. Jorge Valdano scored a pair and Oscar Ruggeri added another as Argentina brushed aside South Korea in Mexico City. Park Chang Sun buried a consolation goal in the 73rd minute. 

All time head-to-head

Outside of the 1986 World Cup, these nations have never faced each other.