A Record Won in Unconvincing Fashion
Suk Hyunjun scored the only goal as the Korean national team beat Thailand 1-0 in Bangkok to extend their most-clean-sheet-wins streak to 9 games – a national team record. It was far from a convincing performance, however, with a strange formation and poor performances from players who were out-of-form or easily replaceable.
There was some pre-match controversy around the lineup – the KFA gave us this graphic, which seemed to suggest a 4-4-2 diamond.
*Jae jumping in* The formation was a bit odd particularly in that both the KFA, KBS, and articles seemed to describe it as a 4-4-1-1 with Ki Sung-yueng playing as a second striker and Lee Jeong-hyeob as a right winger when that clearly wasn’t the case. If I tried to expand on Tim’s description as a “weird, random, dysfunctional, unclear 4-3-1-2” I would say it shifted between a heavily shifted 4-3-1-2 and a 3-5-2 with Koh Myung-jin and Jung Woo-young (and occasionally Ki Sung-yueng) dropping alongside the centerbacks. On the face it seems odd, but lopsided/asymmetrical formations can be used in that they create overloads to overwhelm opposing defenses on one side to open the other or break through.
The problem was that Kim Chang-soo was not sufficient on the right to dominate that flank on his own, plus Lee Jeong-hyeob/Ki Sung-yueng/Jung Woo-young did not make enough moves into the open space when there was an overload on the left. If Korea/Stielike wanted to play a similar formation I would suggest this XI as a better fit.
In all honesty I haven’t gotten around to watching the entire match properly yet (I’ve seen bits and pieces + highlights) so I’ll let Jinseok Yang or any other Tavern writer come in here and add to this post.
Suk Hyunjun: Man, Suk is beastly. He scored the first goal in the 3rd minute with this cannon from distance, recognizing that a through pass would be wrong
Ko Myongjin: He assisted the first goal, and according to Korean media, was dynamite – a smart, intuitive playmaker, doing his shift deep and higher up. From the 30 minutes I saw of him (obviously no sample size worth much), he’s worth another call-up. Especially since Ki will miss the Spain and Czech Republic friendlies in June due to his military training (don’t worry, he’s got exception, he just has to do the boot camp.)
*Jae* Kim Seung-gyu: Kim Seung-gyu has obviously been in the running for the starting job, but seemed like Kim Jin-hyeon had passed him after the Asian Cup. However, Kim Seung-gyu made a few fine saves to keep Korea’s clean sheet streak alive.
Jung Wooyoung: Man he was shit. Late into challenges, poor at distributing… underwhelming to say the least. He has some good games and some poor games, and this was on the poor side. When at his best, he’s good at recycling possession and continuing play, but at his worst, he’s unsure of what to do, lost on the pitch, late into challenges and prone for turnovers when he plays a rare forward pass. I’m not saying write him off entirely, but it seems like while Han Kookyoung and Kwon Changhoon are purposeful accompaniments to KSY, Jung Wooyoung is sort of… lost?
Park Jooho: He’s really out of form. Bad crosses (I didn’t see the whole game, I’ve read this on a couple sites though), heavy touches, didn’t put in much of a shift. He’s obviously rusty from his lack of playing time at Borussia Dortmund – doesn’t matter what club you’re at if you’re only training.
*Couple more Jae thoughts*
Nam Tae-hee: I can’t make up my mind how well or bad Nam did against Thailand. He played a perfect cross to Lee Jeong-hyeob (who couldn’t finish), and looked lively on the ball and willing to take defenders on (a relative rarity among Korean players). On the other hand he hung onto the ball too often it felt like, and he doesn’t seem an adequate fit on the wing. It feels like Nam remains (on paper) the best 10 for Korea if they go with the 4-2-3-1 given he’ll play those through balls and take players on, but the reality is that he may just not be good enough.