All this latest talk about the World Cup and whether we’re going to qualify or not (I suspect we will – Uzbekistan are professional chokers in the AFC) had me thinking of a little game the Tavern Writers could play. It’s loosely modeled off of a game played in many soccer forums. We’ll give it the very uninventive name of “Fantasy Draft XI”.
Here’s how it works.
Each participant take turns in what’s called a serpentine draft (1-4, 4-1, 1-4, 4-1 as opposed to 1-4, 1-4, 1-4, 1-4). In each turn, they will draft one player from the pool of players (explained below) until every participant has built a starting XI. No player can obviously be included in more than one XI. The challenge? Drafting the right players for your preferred tactical system.
Where do you come in? Well, after every participant has completed their Fantasy Draft XIs, YOU will be the judge as to which team is the strongest. We will write short dissertations to try to sway you in our favor, but ultimately it will be up to the Tavern bar to determine who earns the prestigious imaginative crown of Draft Champion.
In this post, Roy, Jae, Jinseok and I have presented our XIs. This is the group stage phase – you will determine which two teams will face off in the final. As such, our posts here speak more about how good our team is, while our posts in the final will speak to why it is best built to beat the opposing team.
For this fantasy draft, we will pick from Korean World Cup Teams of the 21st century (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014).
Roy got to draft first, followed by Jinseok, Jae and Tim. Then in the 2nd round, Tim went first, followed by Jae, Jinseok and Roy – and so on.
|GK||Lee Woon-jae||2002, 2006, 2010|
|DF||Choi Jin-cheul||2002, 2006|
|DF||Lee Young-pyo||2002, 2006, 2010|
|MF||Kim Nam-il||2002, 2006, 2010|
|MF||Lee Eul-yong||2002, 2006|
|MF/FW||Ahn Jung-hwan||2002, 2006, 2010|
|MF||Park Ji-sung||2002, 2006, 2010|
|MF/DF||Song Chong-gug||2002, 2006|
|FW||Seol Ki-hyeon||2002, 2006|
|FW||Lee Chun-soo||2002, 2006|
|FW/DF||Cha Du-ri||2002, 2010
|GK||Kim Young-kwang||2006, 2010|
|DF||Kim Dong-jin||2006, 2010|
|FW||Park Chu-young||2006, 2010, 2014|
|GK||Jung Sung-ryong||2010, 2014|
|MF||Kim Bo-kyung||2010, 2014|
|MF||Ki Sung-yueng||2010, 2014|
|MF||Lee Chung-yong||2010, 2014|
If you’re really curious, the order in which we drafted our players is in this Google Sheets.
Roy’s XI: Draft (rather daft) strategy sacrifices defensive for offense
Let me start by pointing out a saying; Barcelona’s defense isn’t necessarily Fort Knox quality, yet with the offensive power they (usually) have, they are counting on scoring more than what they’ll inevitably concede. That’s the aspiration anyway with this composite squad, though to be honest: it was inexperience in drafting that led to hilarious consequences for the old Tavern owner. My first pick actually was Cha Bum-Kun, that is until the Tavern crew informed me players had to be from the 21st century. This is what I get for skimming details on the rules. In a rush, the first (eligible) player that came to mind was Ahn Jung-Hwan. Iconic in scoring clutch last minute goals in the 2002 World Cup, he’s not a bad pick – however that left out picking solid defensive players that comprised the backbone of Hiddink’s revered 2002 squad. Having already committed to midfield players in Ki Sung-Yeung and Lee Chung-Yong, I lost out on getting Lee Young-Pyo and Hong Myong-Bo. Panic ensued at the physical Tavern and I frantically searched for options at the back, and chose…poorly. Oh Beom-Suk, an unremarkable right back journeyman from the 2006 WC squad. Let’s follow that up with part of the infamous yeot-receiving backline from 2014, including LB Yun Suk-Young, CB Kwak Tae-Hwi and CB Hong Jeong-Ho. To be fair, on their day they’re not a bad lot. Late to team training due to a QPR promotion playoff run for Yun and recovery from injuries for Augsburg’s Hong during the rigorous Bundesliga club season led to a lack of chemistry and organizational cohesion, but excuses aside, this isn’t the strongest back 4.
To compensate, Han Kook-Young to pair with Ki for the double pivot, Ji Dong-Won to provide wide attacking options and…(sigh) Lee Dong-Gook up top as I was out of draft options. On his day, the Lion King can be clinical as the K-League’s all time scorer – those numbers back up that hypothesis (not to mention nearly scoring against Uruguay in 2010 WC). Though if you read between the lines, like Guus Hiddink (who left him off the 2002 roster), I’m not completely convinced he was/is Korea’s best forward (Dick Advocaat selected him as 1st choice striker, but knee injury in K-League forced him to sit out 2006 WC). Nevertheless, there could be worse options (the Wookie for one). This is a conventional 4-2-3-1, the midfield attack of Ahn Jung-Hwan, Lee Chung-Yong and Ji (with Ki distributing + ability to go forward while Han Kook-Young providing some cover via defensive mid duties) could allow for a fluid offense, and viable/plausible service to a more conventional striker in the guise of Lee Dong-Gook. Perhaps that could lead to the back four concentrating on an organized compact defense rather than risking being caught out of position. Even playing that safely with a conventional Jung Sung-Ryong minding the net – one can conclude the defense is STILL vulnerable. The team will have to count on a muscular and sensational Ahn to head in the go ahead goal in lieu of Lee Dong-Gook flubbing his many chances.
Jinseok’s XI: Ultimate Workrate
Thoughts from Jinseok on his phone on the KTX…!
Park JS – I debated between HMB and PJS of course, and I figured that while as legendary as HMB was, there are other decent center backs, while there really is no player in korean history like PJS who can simultaneously provide offensive and defensive prowess
Song JK – if you think about the position that korea lacks in the most it’s right back, and while Tim went for CDR I personally prefer SJK- he played RWB for most of 2002 and performed very very well. Remember how he marked Figo against Portugal?
Yoo SC – one of the most important players during the 2002 world cup – a player like him doesn’t exist today. A hard tackling, physical defensive midfielder with extremely high work rate (and can pass unlike Han kook young) – korea today REALLY needs an enforcer like YSC, perhaps even more so than a RB.
Kim TY- because you need at least one good cb
Hwang SH and Seol KH – Hwang was the starting striker in 1998 and 2002 and I personally think he was the most clinical one-top striker korea has had period (CBK doesn’t count here). He scored 50 goals for the KNT.
SKH “the sniper” was one of our first successful (sort of) KPAs with spells in the Belgian league and the premier League. He started as the wide forward in 2002 and scored that crucial equalizer against Italy. Also the first korean to score in the Champions League.
Kim Byungji – LWJ was taken so I thought he was the next best GK.
Kim dongjin – Lee young pyo was taken early, and Kim Dongjin is clearly the next best LB. KDJ even took LYP’s starting berth for a while. 62 appearances for the KNT with an extremely successful spell at Zenit St Petersburg that unfortunately ended due to poor health – KDJ in his prime was every bit as good as LYP was.
Choi Yongsoo- 30 goals in 70 apps for the KNT, once our starting striker.
Kim Doheon – I needed a cm
Lee jungsoo – I needed a cb and since none can defend why not draft one who can score?
Overall thoughts: this is the hardworking team that is unbelievably good at winning the ball back. PJS SJK YSC KTY are players with the highest work rate in knt history. This team is built for counterattacks – HSH SKH and CYS excelled in such a role in 1998-2002, and who better to lead a mean counterattack than Park JS himself? There might not be much individual offensive flair, but it has proven goalscorers, Korea’s mvp and eternal captain PJS, a midfield made of steel, and in my opinion, the best defense of all the Draft XI’s
Jae’s XI: Balance and Options
Defensive solidity, pace, creativity, and players that can switch spots to keep opponents guessing. I suppose we’ll start at the top of the pitch. Son Heung-min has been spotty at times for the national team, but he remains one of Korea’s most potent attacking forces. Center forward is not his best position, but it allows him to be completely free of defensive responsibilities. Lee Chun-soo over on the right offers plenty of pace to test out left backs, and he’s got a fair bit of creativity on him to help break down those pesky deep defenses. Kim Bo-kyung also offers some creativity in the middle, and has the ability to switch to either flanks to help pull open compact defenses. Koo Ja-cheol offers some aerial ability, and playing out on the right flank he can create problems for right backs.
Central midfield opts for stability and balance over any pure strength (ability-wise). Park Joo-ho and Park Jong-woo offer some defensive cover, and both are capable of being useful higher up. However, their job is mainly to provide cover for the attacking front four and any push ups from the defense. Speaking of, Hong Myung-bo is the anchor that holds things together at the back. Having the knowledge that “The Eternal Libero” is behind him will help free Kim Young-gwon. Kim brings some toughness and aggression to stopping opposing center forwards as well as helping play out of the back. Lee Young-pyo is easily Korea’s best left back in some time, and his defensive ability will help keep attackers from creating problems, while he’s also good enough going forward to provide width to the left side. Hwang Seok-ho won’t offer much going forward, but remember he’s got Lee Chun-soo in front of him, so defensive cover is the name of the game, and Hwang should be able to keep that side quiet. Kim Seung-gyu in between the sticks. Hopefully the defense in front of him, keeps things quiet.
Tim’s XI: A strong midfield shield and all about that counter
Think about it. The 2002 squad’s defensive potency + strong counter-game has been the benchmark for all KNT teams. The pre-2002 squads couldn’t keep out potent opposition attacks, for lack of a defensive midfield shield or a dominant centreback pairing. The post-2002 squads have been much maligned for not being able to back up 2002’s defense nor actually counter.
(Ahn Junghwan at 2:00 in the commentary booth : “Too slow, too slow!” as KBK sits on a chance to counter-counter)
The team I have built has three clear strengths.
1: It is versatile. Hyun and Cha have both played WB/winger, whereas Yoon Junghwan can play a variety of attacking positions so as long as he can dribble. Yeom Kihun, though best on the left wing, played as a SS behind PCY at the 2010 WC, while Lee Eulyong dominated the LWB for the early stages of 2002 WC with his trademark combativeness.
2: It is defensively ROCK SOLID and wins back the ball well. Firstly, Lee Woonjae is the best Korean goalkeeper of all time. Period. The centre-back pairing is the most balanced. Choi Jincheol was a starter for the 2002 WC while Cho Yonghyung for the 2010 WC – both are quite similar. Stay at home, do your job, no mistakes. But the midfield shield I’ve built is arguably this team’s best quality. Lee Eulyong is the destroyer. No bullshit, aggressive&hard in the tackle, great hustle, unparalleled spirit. Kim Namil – nearly 100 caps, three WC’s. Positionally sound, super reliable, covers a lot of space. Once traded for TWO players in KLeague. If either of the fullbacks get caught out, both can cover easily. The recent success of Kante proves that you just can’t ignore these kinds of players if you want to win back the ball and counter hard.
3: It LIVES on the counter. If you watch some of Kim Namil’s K League highlights, you’ll find that he’s more than capable of hitting a smart downfield pass. But imagine LKH and CDR, countering devastatingly down the right side against which – if you look at the left flanks – Kim Dongjin and Yoon Sukyoung can’t hold a candle to. Imagine the best left boot in the K League – Yeom Kihun – slipping in PCY – oh what could have been, if he had just been given a chance at Arsenal. And right up the middle, the potent dribbling of Yoon Junghwan, though a misfit for Hiddink’s tactics, perfectly completes a three-pronged counter. Down the flanks with pace, incisive throughball or dribbling down the gut and looking for options.
This team isn’t going to play possession ball. Look how that’s gone for the last 5 years. No, this team knows the best offense is a good defense. They will, with positional sturdiness, absorb pressure and patiently (KNI) or aggressively (Eulyongta) win it back – and then play it out down the wings with bombastic fullbacks and two very different – but equally tantalizing wingers. And you can count on PCY (not 2015-17 Seoul PCY, Monaco/Olympics PCY) to score great goals or win games single-handedly with a brilliant free-kick.