World Cup 2010 Portugal Vs. North Korea Preview: The Inefficient Force Meets An Immovable Object

Unfortunately for the neutral, Portugal versus North Korea looks to replicate the frustrations of Portugal's first match, a scoreless draw with Cote d'Ivoire that saw two teams try to cut through the other's defense with the blunt end of their sword. It's something that's unlikely to change with Portugal, who's as committed to defending as the North Koreans, who play five at the back. The North Koreans are unlikely to be able to counter against the Portuguese, and the Portuguese lack the subtlety to move through a decent defense.

For the neutrals, it may be a good thing that this is the early match and slightly less likely to be watched. For those of us hopelessly addicted to this sport, we can take solace in knowing a goal scored in this match will be more important for the lack of goals likely to follow.

North Korea, Going Forward: The North Koreans are almost exclusively a counter attacking team, and against a Portugal side that tends to keep things secure at the back, they will find things difficult.

While there is a inclination to look at Brazil's defensive record and opine that if North Korea can score against the Brazilians they can score against anybody, Brazil is often set-up to be countered upon because of their want to push their fullbacks, leaving Lúcio, Juan, and Gilberto Silva to defend. If you can work middle-wide in your attack, as North Korea did for their goal against Brazil, you can have success.

Portugal will not take the same risks. The main criticism of Carlos Queiroz is that he is not being daring enough with the attacking talent he has. The flip-side of that has been an incredible defensive record, allowing only two goals in their last 11 competitive matches.

Rarely pushing players forward, Portugal will always meet North Korean striker Jong Tae-Se with a full defensive.

Portugal Going Forward: There are two parts of Portugal's attack: Cristiano Ronaldo, and the rest.

Ronaldo will spend most of his time on the left wing, where he can cut-in and shoot on his right foot. Though he will also see time on the right and up-top, Ronaldo will be given free-reign on his flank. You won't see a fullback overlapping and you'll rarely see a midfielder come and support.  Ronaldo will be relied upon to create his own chances, and approach that has kept Ronaldo off the scoresheet for fifteen months.

The other part of Portugal's attack is difficult to describe. It has typically been Deco in the middle, a wide player (Simão, Nani, or in this competition, Danny) and striker Leidson trying to break down a defense with no consistent means of doing so. Sometimes the wide play will get Portugal into attack. Sometimes the Portuguese will be able to build through the middle, when Deco will be tasked with creating. In each case, the Seleccao is often left in possession without a clear idea of what they want to do next, leading to results like the 0-0 against Cote d'Ivoire.

There is a lack of imagination from both coach and player, and with Deco set to miss this match through injury, things should only get worse. While Queiroz could use this absence as a chance to get Simão back into the starting lineup and play Danny in a more central role, reports are that he will start a more defensive option in central midfield: Thiago.

How The Match Turns: This match is unlikely to turn unless Ronaldo causes havoc, which is always possible. While the strategy of giving Ronaldo the ball and letting him do-what-he-does tends to be a cop-out approach, against a North Korea side that has no athletes that can compete with him individually, it might be Queiroz's best chance. Let your best player try to create chances, draw fouls, and hope for something that defies tactics.

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