Belgium Preview

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.

About Jinseok 259 Articles
Diehard Korean football fan.


    • I had wondered about that before the tournament. He was solid behind the sticks vs England in the summer olympics in the penalty shootout when filling in for injured Jung. but then again, he was really shaky against Brazil semifinal game.

      The problem was LBS didn’t make an impression in all the friendlies in the run up to the WC. It’s hard to say if he would’ve been better than Jung for this tourney based on that — but fair to say this is jung’s last WC. Hong has limited choices unfortunately.

  1. I donèt want to be pessimistic but I srsly doubt HMB is giving us any changes, other than maybe LKH starting for PJY. It’s by far what I want/would do but HMB being HMB I doubt. We might see HSH but that’s the only change I envision if we’re talking about Hong.

  2. Does the Tavern Board think a shit storm awaits Hong once he gets back to Korea? Im unable to follow Kmedia.

    Is his job in jeopardy? Ive never really wished a manager to lose his job other than the last Choi, but if this ultra-conservative path is where he wishes to go, I hope Hong loses his job as soon as he touches ground honestly.

    • short answer: yes. Hard to say if he’ll weather the storm. If he goes, I don’t think there will be any domestic manager that will want the job or is even qualified for it.

      My own take: Hong made some mistakes in the Algeria loss but also is playing to the lack of options at his disposal. I am an apologist, but I have seen Hong’s potential as manager, he’s turned things around somewhat since cleaning up house after Choi Kang-hee. Hong gambled big on PCY and not calling up Cha Du-Ri. The gamble paid off BIG back in 2012 summer olympics, but in Brazil so far it hasn’t paid off. It’s difficult to predict the future: i think it’s 50/50 whether the KFA will punish Hong but he’ll keep his job OR fire him and get a foreign manager.

    • …that doesn’t take into account the possibility (however slim) that things fall Korea’s way on Thursday and they qualify. If they do – Hong’s job will be evaluated again at the Asian cup and Asian games in a few months time.

    • It’s actually felt pretty quiet here so far. I think the media is waiting until after the Belgium game. I haven’t heard any severe criticism of Hong though, at least not from mainstream media.

  3. Hold up, besides a 2-1 Russia win, couldn’t a Rus/Alg tie also work? @ that pt, we’d have to score 3+ tho (same for 3-1/2-0 Rus win?), but since we’re throwing things out there, thought I’d throw this. Oh hope, ur a hard thing to squash XD

    P.S.: Carlos Queiroz, former Man U assistant, just quit as Iran coach, was wondering how might he b 4 SK? Iran didn’t do much better than us, but I understand they put up a respectable fight (especially against Argentina).

    & Queiroz had sum insightful observations about the state of Asian football in this article: Refreshing to hear.

    Haven’t completely given up on HMB, but won’t lie, I’m approaching that border. & if we ever cross, I know it’s early days yet, but who might a decent replacement b? Also heard bout Senol Gunes, former FC Seoul coach, & that he had interest in the NT job, how tactically good was he?

    • I don’t remember much about Gunes but I know he’s signed up for a new job in Turkey this fall so I don’t know how willing he will be to join the KNT.

  4. Queiroz might be able to clean up the defense, but… there’s no way he’d ever want to work in SK. Did you see Iran v SK last year? In the buildup to the game, a few players and CKH were trashtalking about him and Iran. He nearly got into a fight with CKH and assistant coaches, and then all the Korean fans threw bottles at the Iranians. I’m not sure he has a lot of love for Dae Han Minguk.

    • Yeah I don’t like the way Iran plays.. I’m all for Jae’s joke/suggestion for Cesare Prandelli. Seriously KFA get him or any world class coach.

      • I wasn’t joking. Seriously KFA, make it happen. Prandelli has his flaws (see Italy at the WC), but he’s a class act, plays a nice attacking football, and might be able to get our sputtering offense to click a bit.

    • Oh, & what about Zaccheroni? Just left Japan. I know, all these former “mortal enemies”, but I liked his approach. & hey, u gotta do watcha gotta do XD

      • eh.. I think Zaccheroni is overrated because of his 20th century accomplishments and because he’s Italian. I think Hong Myungbo is better because he can communicate with the team and he is also younger/still learning. but idk much about Zaccheroni’s coaching expertise actually.

  5. When Jiseok is talking about ‘individually talented’ players on the team who is he talking about?

    Of the top formation he proposes, I honestly see only 3 players Id call talented. Son LCY and Ki.

    All the rest are marginal.


    • Kimchi, I finally agree with you on something whole heartedly. Well, sort of. If we are talking strictly talent, I’d include PJY. However, considering his terrible form, I won’t quibble too much on his exclusion.

      • P.S. I would also like to say that I have believed and it was confirmed that Algeria, in fact, is the more talented team. Look at their lineup and where they play and how they played. The only reason everyone had this stereotypical view of Algeria was because of past history. They did not look at the current players. The same reason so many overestimated the Korean team. They didn’t look at the current players. Same thing with Russia. I think Algeria is more talented than Russia and should beat them in my opinion, though I’ll hope for the reverse.

    • lol. that would be awesome. it would be hilariously awesome if pjy came on as a sub and scored. it would be just like him. show up only for a brief moment of glory after doing very little.

  6. I know nobody wants to hear this… but Jung Sung Ryong will prove you all wrong. Watch him make a few spectacular saves today and give Korea the 4-0 win it desperately needs. Park Chu Young will also unleash his potential he has been holding back this whole time, and be responsible for 3 of the 4 goals today. Both centerbacks too will astonish us with their ripped figures today. A very clever ploy by Hong Myung Bo, leading back all the way to our USA games, just for this match against Belgium!!

    • Ripped figures, lol that’s pretty good man xD They’ll blind the Belgians w/ their beauty, tearing off their jerseys to better display their chiseled physiques. The ref won’t even give’em yellows for it, he’ll b so gobsmacked by the physical perfection before him.

      The Belgians will fall to their knees in worshipfulness, spontaneously calling out “Daehanminguk!” XDXD

    • K, not too bad, sum defensive brain farts, but didn’t pay 4 it, lucky. Now we just need sum Freakin goals!

      My sister is asking, “how come when we get the ball, we don’t run? Like the midfielders, y arent they running to the other side to score? All the good teams seem to run like crazy when they get the ball, y don’t we?” I have no answer 🙁

      • Yeah all our players seem to take an extra second to think on the counters instead of just trusting their runs and trying the through balls. I think they are too scared to try but I’d rather they try than just give up after passing around a bit in the middle

  7. Maybe the barca boys and a more mature, consistent with their touches son and ki with the improvement of lby or ksg along with more experienced and organized hgh and kyg will give us a golden age

    • Absolutely, that’s the hope. Lee Seung Woo & Son, make this happen KNT! & practice counters/fast breaks, Please!

  8. Props to the 10 MAN Belg def, tho, always seem 2 b in the right place @ the right time, no openings 4 shots. & u know they’re not just lucky, they got positioning down.

    Man, imagine if it was KOREA w/ 10 men, what would the score b like?! =O Tremble @ the thought XD

  9. Y oh y r we so slow & hesitant, 2 the pt. that other nations’ fans feel the need 2 boo us whenever we touch the ball? Make it attractive/elegant/DYNAMIC & CONFIDENT, neutrals will embrace & luv u. & most importantly of all…. U’LL WIN.

    I swear, 1st order of bizness when the NT gets home (after fallout/recovery, whatever) is practice freaking running plays, accurate mid distance passing & leading/anticipating runs. Build sum rapport, please!

    Btw, has Hong ever been known 4 any dynamism, like in Olympics & anything else? Speed, fast counters,any kind of creativity/brilliance? I really wanna have hope, but he just seems 2 b of a stale defense/counter mold, but w/out the counter, & no real offensive teeth; just a reactive, defensive style… w/out the defense. So yeah, its like, they actually got nuthin.

    I know, he doesnt have the players, their talent is underwhelming to say the least. But has Hong done anything to suggest he could accomplish sumthin if he DID have the right players? Am I seeing wrong? & if so, how? Please explain 🙁

    • Small reality check. After the World Cup, the team will fly back to Korea. Then the domestic players will return to their club teams to get ready for the rest of the 2014 season (which restarts on July 3). The rest will go on vacation and then join up with their club teams in a few weeks. The national team will not meet up until sometime in the fall, whenever the next friendly is (probably September) and they will only meet up for a few days. This idea that they can magically/instantly transform themselves is a foolish ideal, and one that will probably lead you to more heartache and pain. People must accept the reality that we have, this is what the team is now. Can that be changed over the coming YEARS is the question.

      That was the risk with hiring Hong MB. His sample size, in terms of his team’s performances, is quite small. A year with the U20 team and a few years with the U23 team. His teams were known to be defensively-solid, aggressive, and a little direct. His performances suggest it is possible he could turn the senior side into a solid team, but (as I’ve always maintained) the youth levels are a completely different animal from the senior level.

      • Oh, I’m not expecting anything overnight, just the beginning of that Years-long process u were talking about. & it has to start w/ an acknowledgement that sumthin ain’t right, so basically a philosophy/outlook change.

        If the KNT ever comes out & says, “K, we’re gonna play a much more kinetic, attractive brand of football from here on out, lots more speed”, I’ll feel awfully reassured.

        Korea, & Asia in general, lags in the brawn dept. compared to other parts of the world, lets not kid ourselves (Zacherroni even said as much as he left Japan, “lacked physicality”). So y on earth would u have ur slighter-framed players duke it out in a box for position w/ gorillas?

        U should have’em running & gunning. Speed, quickness, these r areas where Asians don’t necessarily run into a genetic brick wall, so y not play 2 that, take full advantage?

        Instead, we get plodding tiki-taka wannabe stuff, & then we’re bullied off possession. Asian teams should aim for Flying, where one-touch passing is a tool to get the ball to a streaking striker.

        Anyway, just my frustrated personal opinion coming out. Here’s hoping for good things in the future.

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