Note: This contains 3 parts but I think they are about 3 aspects of the same construct, hence I'm asking all 3 here instead of splitting into 3 questions.
I guess this construct is quite common in news, for example in this NHK News Web article
Here, 準々決勝の韓国戦 is clearly not an object to any verb coming after it that is present in the sentence. Judging from the context, it seems like を前に functions as "before", i.e. "the Japanese men's soccer team made some final adjustments before their quarterfinal match with Korea".
If を前に does mean "before", then how does it differ from の前に? Is it a matter of one being more common in written form, or is there any difference in nuance?
Now, according to the Japan Reference forum post and ALC examples linked above, を前に used in those ways is the same as を前にして, which makes sense - otherwise that を would be without a corresponding verb.
That brings me to the question, "How does one break down this を前にする" structure? What I know is that the construct 「AをBにする」 has a few common usages (reference: 大辞林 definition ❷ of する):
- to raise/appoint A (where A = person) as B or to B (where B = position or profession)
- to treat/consider/think of A as B
- to change A into B
- to use A as B
In any case, they give me a sense of being volitional (someone is actively doing something). Whereas を前にする - and equivalently を前にして - feels like it just is that way, without any volition involved.
Does it even make sense to break を前に(して) down this way? Or is it a somewhat fixed phrase that can't be broken down?