This game was one to forget. An at-times unwatchable encounter in Suwon ended with a blunt 1-0 defeat to England in the final group game of the U-20 World Cup for both sides. Korea will finish 2nd in the group, while the Lions claim top spot.
The team lined up as follows…
Korea (3-5-2): Song Bumkeon; Lee Jungmoon, Lee Sangmin, Jeong Taewook; Woo Chanyang, Han Chanhee, Lee Seungmo, Lim Minhyeok, Lee Yoohyeon; Ha Seungwoon, Cho Youngwook
Shin Taeyong claimed somewhat boastingly that he was going to bring out fresh tactics and a brand new system which the players had never previously practiced out in this game. I’m not sure what the usual media-master that is Shin was thinking about, because it becomes very easy to associate the team’s failure in this game to the abrupt change of shape.
The idea was to stifle England’s progress through midfield, but more importantly to then be able to counter attack through the wingbacks and two forwards with strong passing play through the central positions, in line with the idea that the English, though talented and physical, have a slow defense.
Unfortunately, that plan didn’t reap any rewards.
The Game in Broad Lines
I didn’t catch the entirety of the game … daily commute… so I’ll let Roy or someone else give more detailed thoughts if need be.
What I caught was:
- Koreans did not seek to control the game’s tempo. If they wanted to clog the midfield and try to battle for possession, they would have deployed another shape. Clearly deciding the team wasn’t physical enough to play that kind of game, the 3-5-2 was whipped out.
- As a result, the English had a lot of final third time. Similar to the game against Argentina, Korea absorbed a lot of pressure. That being said, the defense actually looked a lot more solid with a libero as it allowed the squad’s two most trustworthy centrebacks to play their traditional roles.
- Song Bumkeon bailed out the Koreans on multiple occasions, making smart, quick saves on a number of English efforts.
- The fullbacks sucked at marking their players, and Han Chanhee was out of shape and out of form. Stage fright. Both left wing back Woo Chanyang and Han Chanhee were responsible for an English goal where they broke through the left side and cut back to an open man in the box.
We’ll be back for more later today…
Tavern Owner here: I got to see parts of the game – missed some of the first half (and from what I understand, Korea came out and applied pressured to England’s defenses, the end result a flurry of corner kicks but no goals. England started to dictate things from there and Korea were lucky not to concede more. What was concerning, squad rotation aside, was the underwhelming transition game. Winning the ball back in their own third, Korea simply wasn’t able to muster an effective transition back to the attack, losing the ball frequently, poor decision making passing. As mentioned before, the fullbacks seemed to cower in the face of England’s quick re-press – a lack of confidence in their skills and ability to move the ball showing. Their counterpart wingbacks, all coming from various pro clubs, possessed the opposite, full on confidence, bristling with creativity and swagger on the ball. The tekkers shown was simply marvelous -a stark contrast to some of the Korean college-based players (US players also in this category for their separate U20 games). However, this was a game that on paper was one they could technically afford to lose, but the momentum gained from good performances against Guinea and Argentina has been somewhat lost. The question remains as to whether Shin Tae-Yong can regain that mojo in the critical knockout phase of the tournament.
Extra time: at first I thought this was mere rumor-mongering from the Korean media, but there’s solid credibility in reports that the Catalan Football Confederation asked Lee Seung-Woo to consider becoming a naturalized Spanish citizen -which they would foster his involvement in the Spanish National team. Lee of course refused (let that be in the record for any Korean netizen ready to flog LSW for any perceived slip up from the Barcelona academy player) saying he could not imagine not playing for team Korea. Got to go but more on this and other developments like Song Bum-Kun attracting interest from European clubs. We’ll post up a preview soon of the Round of 16 clash between Portugal and Korea – kickoff is Tuesday 7am US EST/8pm Korea time.