In a World Cup where Korea was getting humiliated left and right (looking at you Jang Hyunsoo, Shin Taeyong, and Kim Minwoo)… we pulled off a miracle. The football Gods had cursed us with injuries to 5 starters – our most in-form player in Kwon, our captain Ki, our most in-form defenders – and a manager who has sort of become an international meme. But today, the football Gods blessed us with what may be the best day of our KNT-fan lives.
Today, we can hold our heads high. We just knocked out the defending champions, the #1 ranked team in the world. Granted, they were really bad (and so were we), but my brothers and sisters, our Korean brethren – today we regained our dignity. And now we can look forward to rebuilding Korea from the inside out.
I love you Korea. I love you my countrymen. I love you Cho Hyunwoo and Kim Youngkwon.
Onto the player ratings:
JY: It’s a real damn shame he has to go to the military, because this man the straight up MotM for Korea every single game of the World Cup. He’s getting international recognition, from Rio Ferdinand to Mexican pop stars to basically every Mexico fan who are idolizing Cho for keeping them in the WC. We love to hate on STY here, but major props to STY for deciding to play Cho Hyunwoo. Guys, what if – CHW moves to Liverpool and gets called up to the Asian Games and wins exemption? That would be Jinseok’s dream come true. I never give straight 10/10’s. But CHW deserves his rating. I’m buying his jersey tomorrow. 11/10.
Namu Yoon: Breakout star. This famous win was mainly due to him bailing Korea out time and time again. 9.
MW: I echo Jinseok’s dream come true. If you weren’t considering calling him up to the Asian Games KFA before the World Cup, do it now. He showed all of his heroic skills today to come up with more great saves that helped win the match. It was Shin’s best move to start him in the World Cup and I hope it leads to greater things for the newest football star from Korea. 11/10.
Kevin Kim: Words can’t describe how refreshing it feels to finally have a keeper we can trust between the sticks. Characteristically good in the air, safe hands, quality saves—what’s there not to love? This time, the outstretched save against a close range German header was the pick of the lot. Made Germany truly work for a goal, and they still couldn’t beat him.
Once he tidies up his distribution, he will be a world beater; 9.
JY: HOLY CRAP DID YOU GUYS SEE THAT MOVE FROM HC IN THE SECOND HALF? Infinitely better than Kim Minwoo. I don’t think Kim Jinsu would have been this good. Was decent defensively as well. 8/10.
NY: Probably our weak point in D today, did a good job of clogging the gaps and channels, but was too slow to go meet the German attackers that collected the ball on the wing for a free cross. 6.
MW: Not really sure I noticed him specifically. However, as a member of a defense that defended so valiantly and so strongly, that’s good. 7.
KK: Better than Min-woo. Had a pretty decent low cross that made its way across the German box. Contributed with forward play, not egregious in the back either. Can’t complain; 7.5.
JY: I take back everything bad I said about you Kim Youngkwon. From your days gifting Iran goals to complaining about stadium noise – I love you my Korean brother 9/10.
NY: Same as Yun, but hey, he got a famous famous goal for sure! 7.
MW: He has been a rock in defense all World Cup. And he was right in the right place when the German defense just absolutely made a mess of that corner for the goal. 9.
KK: A revelation; Korean football supporters have been waiting for this Kim Young-gwon his entire career. Hardly put a foot wrong all game, and was there to make some important interceptions. Was fitting for Kim to be one to score the goal. For the sake of Korean football and your future, LEAVE CHINA!!! 9.
JY: Did anyone see this coming? He was surprisingly good today. Cut off quite a few passes, and his tackles were crucial in blocking some of those Germany shots. 8/10.
NY: While we did shut out the #1 team in the world, our centre-backs did lose their markers time and time again for free headers that just went wide or high by inches or got bailed out by Cho. 6.
MW: He was a surprise inclusion but he did his job in terms of getting the clean sheet. Was it always pretty? Absolutely not. But he got the job done. 6.
KK: Begs the question of ‘what could have been’ had we initially started him as Kim Young-gwon’s partner. No-nonsense defender. Hardly remember a time when he had the ball by his feet, but don’t remember a time where the ball was in our net, so good enough for me; 7.5.
JY: I don’t think LY did anything as noteworthy as the other defenders, but you know what I’m in a really good mood right now and he didn’t piss me off. 7/10.
NY: Off initial viewing, probably our strongest defender today, both in terms of defence and attack. 7.
MW: I am not a good watcher of defenders and positioning and that detail. However, I think that he did his job well in terms of adding to attack and getting back in defense. 7.
KK: Did his job – primarily stayed back, but also swung in a couple crosses that gave Germany a scare. An extra point for truly putting his balls on the line for our country; 8.
JY: As a DM, he’s certainly better. I think if we learned anything from this tourney it’s to never ever play JHS as a CB ever again. I’d rather not see him as a DM either but anyway, Jang didn’t do too much wrong this time. He even got forward a couple times. He overcame the netizen rage fairly well. But JHS being JHS he still had some pass misses here and there. 6/10.
NY: Hustled his butt off, but the lack of passing and ball control abilities were as evident in midfield as it was in defense. Did manage to wiggle his way out with the ball in midfield on several occasions though. 6.
MW: I echo Jinseok. He is certainly better as a CDM, but really how much? There was one moment when he had a streaking Son wide open on the counter and couldn’t find the necessary ball to pick him out. He’s just not good enough for either position. However, after his last game he did redeem himself. 5.
KK: Out of position for Shin Tae-young to squeeze in another center back. Made some classic Jang Hyun-soo plays, but let’s not focus on that. Grew into the game especially later in the second half with two potential key passes just cut off by the Germans. Predictable, but not too poor; 7.
JY: Invisible, fell to the ground a couple times… That’s kind of all I remember. Subbed fairly early. 5/10.
NY: Definitely was a bit lost in the whole mix of things, but he played an important part in the solid defensive structure in the 4-2-3-1, was disciplined throughout. Likely played some neat quick touch passes to keep the ball moving as well. 6.
MW: Like Namu said, he did exactly what was asked of him defensively. He tried his absolute hardest to aid the attack. He went off injured after giving his all to the team. 7.
KK: Injury prone Koo strikes again. Did his best to link-up play with Son in the first half. Nothing much to chat about, but the effort and understanding was there. Execution just short, more often than not. Sad, but wouldn’t be surprised if this was his last tournament with the KNT; 6.
JY: Had a good freekick early on that Manuel Neuer screwed up. Otherwise, quiet game but defended very well. 7/10.
NY: Nearly gifted Germany a goal in the first 15 minutes, but then had the mental fortitude to make up for it and play a strong game overall, including a fabulous sprayed pass to the right wing that led to Sonny’s best chance in the 1st half. 7.
MW: He was very good today. I have never been a fan of him. However, when he got over that free kick, I felt he could knuckle it and mess with Neuer, which he did. He also played an absolute Ki ball out wide that Namu mentioned led to Son’s first opportunity to score. 8.
KK: Smart, all things being considered; did his best, and our game plan of soaking pressure while hitting them on the counter masked his deficiencies. But when you come out with a clean sheet against the World Cup holders, can you really complain? 7.5.
JY: Just when I was getting conflicting feelings about this guy he actually did a very good job holding onto the ball and distributing it. Lost the ball a few times though. 7/10.
NY: Ran his ass off, hustled on both offense and defense till he couldn’t breathe, and yet still managed to beat his markers time and time again, the only one to do so consistently today. Our main focal point today. 8.
MW: He was absolutely the most creative player for Korea today and he was able to skip around German defenders. He was all over the place defensively, always looking for a pass to spring Son. Remember that ball over the top that Neuer had to cut out? That was Lee Jaesung. 9.
KK: Really tried being the creative force in this game and it showed. Did what he could with minimum support, all the while putting in a defensive shift, harrying players on possession early on; 6.5.
JY: I love his energy… but he really doesn’t offer anything. Every time he got forward he lost the ball or ran straight into a defender. Our counterattacks were completely ineffective (though this isn’t entirely MSM’s fault). But he showed Tuhon. Something we don’t see from the KNT too often. 5/10.
NY:Another hustler, who worked his butt off similar to Lee JS on the opposite flank, and contributed defensively as well, but his lack of international class skills were all too evident on our counter attacks in the 2nd half. It wasn’t as much for the lack of decision making, but for the lack of skills and speed. 6.
MW: This match once again highlighted his deficiencies outweighing his positives. He is absolutely tenacious. However, he doesn’t have the dribbling technique or finishing skills to aid the offense like he needs to. He had a streaking player out wide on the counter but couldn’t get the pass through in time. He was open in the box and his feet got caught up before he could shoot. 6.
KK: Heavily involved during the bit of play where Korea looked most dangerous going forward. Took two many touches when trying to tee his shot. Sent one Germany player for a hot dog with his most dangerous play; 7.5.
JY: So again, Son shows his selfishness. Lots of overlapping runs that he didn’t see. Scuffed quite a few of his chances and honestly didn’t look all that dangerous. His goal was hilarious though. Finally exposing Neuer for his crazy high up positions. Just for that I’ll boost him to. 6/10.
NY: Classic Sonny, even more amplified with Korea than with Spurs. Our focal point of the counter attacks, but the best counters are when players can find overlapping players to overload the defense. Sonny on the other hand will hold onto the ball and go for the shot 90% of the time, it’s just poor decision-making. The gimme goal at the end bumps it up a notch. 7.
MW: I echo exactly what Jinseok and Namu said. Basically, at Spurs Sonny has a lot of teammates that can feed him the balls to finish or that he trusts to get to the positions for his assists. It may be that at this moment he doesn’t feel that way about his KNT teammates. I will say that I think he would have played much less selfishly with Kwon Changhoon in the team. Oh what could have been! And that goal? He deserved it, plain and simple. 7.
KK: Four years and three goals later, we finally see Son with a smile on his face when scoring in our shirt at a World Cup. And what a momentous goal. Did his best throughout the match to shoulder the team’s attacking responsibility. Got something to show for it; 7.5.
JY: Thought the sub was a little puzzling because we kinda needed to go forward not defend more, but you know what I liked what I saw from JSJ. Gave that key pass that bypassed Neuer and allowed Son to score. Can we take a moment to appreciate how Manuel frickin Neuer got dispossessed by a Korean policeman serving his military duty by playing for the second division police force? 6/10.
NY: A surprise sub on at CAM that pushed Lee JS back out to RM. Did his role well, though his inclusion at the expense of Lee SW pointed towards Shin TY’s tactical conservatism, and a dulled approach on our counters. That said, that tackle on Neuer and the subsequent long ball will be remembered for decades to come. Lol. 8.
MW: Well, I am feeling odd about the Ju Sejong hype train. It was certainly an odd substitution but he was neat and tidy like he usually is and that defense to just embarrass Neuer was epic. He takes the ball and does exactly what you need to do there. Just kick the ball towards the goal and let Sonny win the race with the German CBs. 7.
KK: Baffling substitution; Moon, who was looking dangerous, off for Ju right after Moon had been looking dangerous. Game stopped opening up after this sub. But we got the clean sheet, and he did send Son free sooooooooo; 7.
JY: Even in retrospect I’m not really seeing why Shin Taeyong put Hwang in then took him out. Hwang barely even got any touches. The attack as a whole was so ineffective he didn’t really do anything. NA.
NY: Whatever happened with Shin, we are going to hear about it one way or another. My guess is that his poor involvement on the defensive side is what got him pulled 23 minutes in, as he barely supported Hong on the left flank when Germany had the ball. Couldn’t get involved in the counters as well. 5.
MW: I barely saw him get involved and was so surprised to see him pulled by Shin as well. I’ll just wait for the post game comments on that. NA.
KK: So he was subbed on, only to be subbed off in twenty minutes for Go Yo-han? Great result, but Shin…c’mon; N/A.
JY: Ran a ton, chased the German backline, got back to defend, did what was asked. Not much more. 6/10.
NY: Another surprise sub on at LM, both in the sense that Hwang HC was hooked after 23 minutes, and that surely 99% of Korea fans out there were expecting Lee SW. Another defensive-minded sub that would have surely resulted in a massive netizen backlash if it wasn’t for Kim YG’s goal. He did what he was asked, which was to support Hong on the defensive end, and tried to get on the counters when he could. 6.
MW: I didn’t see much of him either but he kept the defense together and probably got some blocks in as well late in the game. 6.
KK: Extra security with just over ten minutes to play – clean sheet though, so mission accomplished; 6.
JY: I really don’t want to give credit to STY for this win, but something changed with the defense. We fought with Tuhon today. And for that I think some degree of credit has to go to STY. Still didn’t like the starting lineup though, we really should have started LSW for KJC. But you know what. I’m giddy with pride right now (even though this win was pure luck and not an indication of Korea’s prowess by any means. Except in goalkeeping). 6/10.
NY: He’d be getting skewered by every single Korean in the homeland and the diaspora if Kim YG did not get that miracle goal. Lol. Most fans were disappointed or puzzled by his conservative selections, and Jang HS and Moon, for all their defensive hustling, negated their efforts with their lack of international class offensive skills.
The 4-2-3-1 was a good shape though, and Shin was clearly focused on the defensive end, though we obviously dodged way too many bullets on Germany’s headers. His hook of Hwang HC will have to be answered, though that’s likely due to lack of defensive effort, as well as his sub on of Go at the expense of subbing on Lee SW. Shin knows that, for all the defensive and hard-working players he put out there, that we were quite fortunate to concede none, let alone score two. Football’s a funny game for sure.
I’d love to sit here and defend Shin and say that the focus on the defensive effort was key, but I can’t, we dodged bullets here, and we happened to scratch the winning ticket on this one. But hey, he did get the winning ticket. 5
MW: Yeah, both Jinseok and Namu are right on. Yes, he got the defense right but if we didn’t get goals and win, his tactics would be skewered for their conservative nature. My big problem with him is he seems reluctant to attack because he is too concerned we don’t have enough cover at the back. Yet, he has players that will give everything to the defense like they showed today and can also get forward. So let them attack Shin, they’ll track back!
The substitutions as well were very puzzling. He subbed in defensive players for the most part. This says something about the options he had on the bench offensively. But once again, who made the roster? Shin did. I remember this saying from high school, “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile.” Shin found that nut today but we shouldn’t go overboard in celebrating him for that. 5.