Who would win in a best-of-11 match between South Korea and Japan?
South Korea and Japan have an iconic rivalry that is often referred to as the Korea-Japan game. Pride is at stake for both nations, and the outcome can change the mood of a nation.
At the senior national team level, South Korea have won 26, drawn 16, and lost 16 of the last 26 games, but the last 10 games have gone in their favour with three wins, two draws, and five losses. This is largely due to the fact that the quality of Japanese football has risen considerably in recent years, with many of their players having gone on to play in Europe.안전놀이터
However, Japan and South Korea have yet to play each other at full strength in recent times, so many fans are looking forward to this match. With the Asian Cup in Qatar less than a year away, we take a look at both teams’ best line-ups to see who has the edge in each position. Here’s how they stacked up in the 2022/23 season and how they stacked up in the 2021/22 season.
South Korea: Cho Hyun-woo (31) – Since joining Ulsan Hyundai, Cho has been the first-choice goalkeeper. Last season, he kept 33 clean sheets in 36 games in the K League 1, helping Ulsan win the league title. He kept 10 clean sheets. For his performance, he was named to the Hana OneQ K League 1 2022 Best 11.
Japan: Kosuke Nakamura (28) – First-choice goalkeeper for Portimonense in the Portuguese League, Nakamura started 30 games in the 2022/23 season and kept six clean sheets. He has an xG (expected goals against) of 54.10, but led the team with 46 fewer conceded goals. He also led the Portuguese league in saves per 90 minutes last season.
While Choi has conceded fewer goals, Ulsan is the top team in the K League and Portimonense is in the relegation zone, so I’ll give them some leeway and call it a draw.
Left-right fullback (Japanese dominance)
South Korea: Kim Jin-soo (31) – Currently plays for Jeonbuk Hyundai in the K League 1. Last season, Kim had 2 goals and 3 assists in 31 games in the league. His cross success rate was 36 per cent and his tackle success rate was 47 per cent in the regular season in the K League 1. According to football statistics site FotMob, he had a rating of 7.11.
Kim Moon-hwan (28) – Currently plays for Al Duhail in Qatar. He scored one goal and provided three assists in 28 games in the K League 1 last season. His cross success rate was 33% and tackle success rate was 59% in the regular season, excluding the K League 1 final round. FotMob gave him a rating of 6.95.
Japan: Takehiro Tomiyasu (24) – Playing for Arsenal in the Premier League, Tomiyasu plays as a right full-back for the Gunners. In the 2021/22 season, he was a regular starter, making 20 starts. He had a 42% cross success rate and a 49% tackle success rate. In total, he scored 0 goals and made 1 assist, giving him an overall rating of 7.04.
Yukinari Sugawara (23) – plays for AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch league and is a right full-back for the club. In the 2022/23 season, he was a regular starter in 26 games, winning 27% of his crosses and 61% of his tackles. In total, he scored three goals and provided eight assists for an overall rating of 7.29.
Kim Jin-soo and Kim Moon-hwan played in the K League and didn’t win, so we decided to go with the Japanese full-back who performed well in the Netherlands and England.
South Korea: Kim Young-kwon (33) – plays for Ulsan in the K League 1. Last season, he made 36 league appearances and helped Ulsan win the K League 1 title. He had a 71 per cent tackle success rate and 71 interceptions. Kim was named in the Best 11 Defenders of the Hana One Q K League 1 2022. FotMob gave him a rating of 7.10.
Kim Min-jae (26) – Currently the heart of the South Korean national team’s defence. This summer, he joined Bayern Munich from SSC Napoli for €50 million. Last season, Kim finished with two goals and two assists in 35 games. According to FotMob, he had a 55 per cent tackle success rate and 122 interceptions. As SSC Napoli won the Serie A title, Kim won the league’s best defender award.
Japan: Ko Itakura (26) – Itakura plays for Borussia Mönchengladbach in the German Bundesliga and is a centre-back for the club. In the 2022/23 season, he was a regular starter in 22 games, winning 59 per cent of his tackles, making 92 clearances and 27 interceptions. In total, he scored 0 goals and provided 2 assists for an overall rating of 6.96.
Hiroki Ito (24) – plays for VFB Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga and is a centre-back for the club. In the 2022/23 season, he was a regular starter in 29 games, winning 73% of his tackles, making 84 interceptions and 40 clearances. He totalled one goal and one assist for an overall rating of 7.13.
Kim Min-jae is Asia’s best defender and Kim Young-kwon was a key part of the team’s title-winning campaign the previous season, so he was considered a draw against the Japanese centre-back duo in the Bundesliga.
Midfield (Japan dominant)
South Korea: Lee Kang-in (22) – The midfielder is regarded as the future of the South Korean national team. He left Mallorca this summer to join Paris Saint-Germain. Lee scored six goals and provided six assists in 36 games in La Liga last season. His passing success rate was 80 per cent and his dribbling success rate was 73 per cent. FotMob gave him a rating of 7.19.
Hwang In-Beom (26) – A former favourite of former coach Paulo Bento, Hwang has been a regular in the squad under Jürgen Klinsmann. He played for Olympiakos in Greece, scoring three goals and providing four assists in 32 games in the Greek Super League. His passing success rate was 88 per cent and his dribbling success rate was 73 per cent. He has a FotMob rating of 7.63.
Lee Jae-sung (30) – Formerly of Jeonbuk Hyundai and Holstein Kiel, Lee is currently with Mainz 05. He had seven goals and four assists in 34 games in the Bundesliga last season. His passing success rate was 74 per cent and his dribbling success rate was 81 per cent. FotMob gives Lee a rating of 7.06.
Japan: Hidemasa Morita (28) – Morita plays for Sporting Lisbon in the Portuguese league, where he plays as a central midfielder. In the 2022/23 season, he was a regular starter in 21 games, completing 87% of his passes and 45% of his dribbles. In total, he scored six goals and provided three assists for an overall rating of 7.32.
Wataru Endo (30) – plays for VFB Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga, where he plays as a central and defensive midfielder. He is a regular and captain, having started 33 games in the 2022/23 season. He completed 80% of his passes and 58% of his dribbles. He has five goals and four assists for an overall rating of 7.36.
Daichi Kamada (27) – plays for Lazio in the Italian Serie A. He can play as an attacking midfielder, central midfielder, and centre forward. In the 2022/23 season, he was a regular starter in 25 games, completing 83% of his passes and 44% of his dribbles. In total, he scored nine goals and provided six assists for a rating of 7.21.
In the midfield, both teams have good members that are comparable to the top teams in Europe. However, Japan has a slight edge as their midfield is more cohesive and has better stats at higher levels.
Forwards (South Korea dominates)
South Korea: Son Heung-min (31) – The symbol of South Korean football and the ace of the national team. He also plays the main role for his club, Tottenham Hotspur. Last season he was disappointing in the EPL with 10 goals and six assists in 36 games, but in 2021/22 he became the first Asian to top the EPL scoring charts with 23 goals in 35 games. Son has scored in double figures in the EPL for seven consecutive seasons since the 2016/17 campaign.
Hwang Hee-chan (27) – Currently plays for Wolverhampton Wanderers. In the 2022/23 season, he scored 3 goals and 1 assist in 27 league games. He had a shooting accuracy of 39%, a dribbling success rate of 50%, and a cross success rate of 20%. His FotMob rating was 6.45.
Cho Kyu-sung (25) – The Danish defender joined Mittwilan this summer. He played for Gimcheon Commerce and Jeonbuk last season, finishing as the top scorer in the K League 1 with 17 goals and five assists in 31 K League 1 games. This earned him a spot in the top 11 forwards in the K League 1. Currently, Cho has scored in three consecutive games since the start of the Danish league, setting a new club record.
Japan: Kaoru Mitoma (26) – Mitoma plays for Brighton in the English Premier League, where he is a left winger. In the 2022/23 season, he was a regular starter in 24 games, winning 50% of his shots, 52% of his dribbles, and 7% of his crosses. In total, he scored seven goals and provided five assists for a rating of 7.32.
Kubo Takefusa (22) – Playing for Real Sociedad in the Spanish La Liga, Takefusa plays as a right winger and right midfielder for the club. In the 2022/23 season, he was a regular starter in 29 games, completing 53% of his shots, 49% of his dribbles, and 25% of his crosses. In total, he scored nine goals and provided four assists for a rating of 7.14.
Maeda Daizen (25) – plays for Celtic in the Scottish League, where he plays as a left winger. He was a regular starter in the 2022/23 season, making 23 appearances, with 47% of his shots on target, 42% of his dribbles successful, and 15% of his crosses successful. In total, he scored eight goals and provided five assists for a rating of 7.14.
Both teams have an attack that is on par with the top European sides, but Son has the dominant stats and Cho Kyu-sung was the top scorer in the 2022 season. Japan is always criticised for its indecisiveness, so South Korea has the edge.
When broken down by position, South Korea has one win, two draws, and two losses. Considering the overall stats and the level of the league, Japan is stronger in defence and midfield. South Korea, on the other hand, has a strong forward line anchored by Son Heung-min and Cho Kyu-sung. Overall, South Korea has fewer players playing in Europe compared to Japan. This is especially true in defence, where Japan has all of its players playing in Europe, while South Korea has three K League players.
Both countries have a golden generation, with the latter reaching the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. South Korea has players like Son Heung-min, Lee Kang-in, and Kim Min-jae performing well in Europe’s top tier. Japan, on the other hand, has