I am so embarrassed at the fact that our individually talented team is in such shambles, to the point where I am in absolutely no mood to write this preview. Personally, whether we make it out or not is no importance to me anymore – I just want to see the problems ironed out and HMB to implement the proper changes in time to WIN THE ASIAN CUP. In fact, a lot of my time has been devoted to a comprehensive “Everything that Went Wrong in the Last Four Years, and How We Might Fix Them” post.
That being said I’ve invested too much time and feel too attached to the Knt not to care about this game. I’ll be intently watching, hoping for a second miracle of Doha to occur.
The failures of the Algeria match will be covered in the upcoming post so for now let’s jump straight into the Belgium match.
Everybody is probably already very familiar with Belgium – the “dark horse” contenders (though if everyone calls them the dark horse they’re not really the dark horse are they?) Yeah they have star names. Yeah they have overwhelming firepower. BUT they have been underperforming this world cup and their defense is still not looking quite the best. Also, they are expected to make a bunch of changes for this game. Wilmots himself said at least two, while Belgian news sources say at least five. We theoretically HAVE a chance, but their B team is pretty scary as well. Most likely they’ll stick to their usual 4-2-3-1 with a couple of reserve players sprinkled in there to cover for the exhausted and the yellow-carded. More importantly though…
How Can We Beat Belgium?
Belgium have already qualified. They will rest a portion of their starting XI. Therefore, we need to take the Algeria approach. With HMB playing the exact same predictable way literally every single game of his tenure, perhaps Wilmots won’t expect an all-out attack. Also, just as we underestimated Algeria, the entire Belgium team and particularly Wilmots thinks very very lowly of our team. So an Algeria approach just might do it. We harass them both physically and mentally to the point where they just give up in utter frustration, having already qualified. After all, even though we are better than the Algerian team on an individual basis, their team effort killed us. We must do the same against Belgium. An offensive 4-3-3 is in order.
Offensively, there are two approaches Korea can take to the Belgium game. One is to longball to KSW from the start. Japan and Iran have been screwed over by counterattacks by going full out offensive, so if we decide to abuse KSW’s height we will be defensively sound and hopefully not caught out of position so often like we were vs. Algeria. But believe me, Belgian defenders are far superior aerially to Algerian defenders. So the second option, slightly more risky, is to abuse SPEED and RUNS, risky because it leaves us vulnerable to a counter from Belgium’s scary attackers. Imagine Eden Hazard vs. Lee Yong? That just leaves a bad taste in your mouth doesn’t it? Anyway, this second option is pretty attractive because Kompany and Van Buyten are tough and muscular but very slow. Vertoghen, Alderweireld, and Vermaleen are also slow.
Update 1: Belgium coach Marc Wilmots has said that Axel Witsel and Toby Alderweireld will not play due to having picked up a yellow card against Russia. He also said that Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen will not play as they are carrying minor injuries.
Update 2: Hong Myeong-Bo has hinted that Park Chu-Young will start against Belgium citing the “balance” that he brings to the team’s attack.
Here is lineup that I would propose for this second option:
This would allow us to abuse the flanks and our wingers to get behind the Belgian defense, while keeping defensive solidarity. However, I do not know if we can play this kind of fast paced attacking game. Because HMB’s Korea has never done that before.
For the first option, starting to look more and more attractive in the light of Japan and Iran’s defeats, I actually would suggest this.
Now you may be wondering why LCY is in the midfield at LKH’s expense. The first reason is that I feel that LKH gets forward far more than LCY does, and might be more useful in chasing down KSW knockdowns. The only concern I have here is that LKH’s finishing is pretty bad and most of his shots go to the moon. However, LCY in the wide CM role actually should work out very well because recently we’ve seen him consistently drift centrally and not nearly as FORWARD and WIDE as he used to. Plus, having three immensely technically skilled midfielders in the center might be useful in fending off Belgian pressure. IT also gives us two options of offense as we can either longball to Wookie OR build up from the midfield as all three are offensively minded MF’s. But they’re not defensive enough you say? Well if we’re longballing at least they’ll be in position to defend right? Having attacking midfielders in position to defend is much preferable to having an inconsistent defensive midfielder be constantly out of position.
Which is better? I have no idea. One is safer, but if Fellaini plays the entire threat of KSW may become nullified.
Hell, another idea is to go all in and attack attack attack while keeping three defenders in the box to defend counters. Since two defenders in the box always seems to fail against technical, fast attackers. Unfortunately, this is could be countered if Belgium commit their front four to counterattacks.
Defensively… I expect wholesale changes but HMB being HMB, idk. You would expect massive changes to the defensive line but we literally have no replacements so that might stay the same. Having literally no depth in the RB position, perhaps we could experiment with a Sergio Ramos style position switch:
Screw this part all my predictions have been wrong anyway. All of my predictions regarding this world cup have gone to hell already so… who knows what can happen. What we’ve seen so far is that any team can beat any team, so whoever prepares accordingly wins. High scoring game is all I can predict. And as long as we have a decent showing, don’t get massacred, and MAKE THE FREAKING ADJUSTMENTS WE’VE BEEN SCREAMING FOR SINCE THE TUNISIA FRIENDLY AND EVEN EARLIER INSTEAD OF STICKING TO ONE GAMEPLAN OVER AND OVER AGAIN I will be content. If HMB sticks to the same lineup AGAIN, we will not only be the only team to use the same XI three times, but I will probably go ballistic and actually start to doubt his qualifications. I can forgive him for the Algeria match. But if he continues to not change… we’re going to have a bad time.