The three group matches in the FIFA U17 World Cup are played over the space of SEVEN DAYS. You thought the Asian Cup was bad? Well the SEVENTEEN YEAR OLDS have it worse. So given that we had already secured passage into the RO16, Choi Jin Chul smartly decided to rest many of the key players. But not as many as expected, even though I was secretly hoping we could smash England so we could say “the best K League talents > the best Premier League talents.” In the end we drew but we were damn lucky we drew. And for the first time on the world stage we come out of our group 1st place having conceded zero goals – that in itself is a huge achievement, so Choi Jin Chul, thank you. Read on for thoughts on England and possibilities regarding our next RO16 opponent.
I thought CJC would make like 7-9 changes to the starting lineup, but we actually ended up seeing 5. Counting the goalkeeper, which is odd:
Yoo Ju An
Park Sang Hyeok Lee Sang Heon Yoo Seung Min
Jang Jae Won Lee Seung Mo
Yoon Jong Gyu Lee Sang Min Kim Seung Woo Hwang Tae Yeon
Lee Joon Seo
As you can see only 4 new outfield players were featured, and one of them came on as the first sub every game (Lee Sang Heon). In fact starting LB Park Myung Soo and RW Kim Jin Ya both came on at 45′ for Hwang Tae Yeon and Yoo Seung Min, respectively, with Oh Se Hun coming on at the end as he usually does. Not as much rest as I would have liked, but perhaps it helped in giving us the 0-0 draw. Who knows.
Now I couldn’t watch the whole match aside from like 20 minutes early in the second half – so I’m a little fuzzy on what exactly went down, but from BSK comments and the full highlights I’ve gotten a grasp on the general gist of things. Here are the general takeaways from the match:
- PASS MISSES PASS MISSES PASS MISSES. It’s acutally starting to get ridiculous and it’s the biggest problem Choi Jin Chul needs to address before the RO16 match. A lot of dangerous turnovers, just like the Guinea match. We BETTER NOT SEE THIS KIND OF ERRORS FOR THE RO16 MATCH YOU HEAR ME CJC?
- Neither team played with urgency – I felt the same in the parts that I saw. Odd since England really really really needed the win, and at only 2 points they actually may not be ranked among the top 3rd placed teams.
- We got dominated but had the better chances, and were fairly lucky to escape with a draw, but hopefully the RO16 will get our players more pumped up. Still, our defense did an incredibly good job once again and were able to keep England from getting easy shots on target.
And from what I saw in a mere 20 minutes:
- Our right defense got murdered by their LB and their LW. It seemed like 90% of England’s attack went purely down their left and it was damn effective since they got in a cross or a shot (that got blocked) way more often than I would’ve liked. Speaking of crosses though…
- England is obsessed with crossing… and suck at it. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if England put in anywhere between 50-100 crosses all game because it was more or less all they did. And every time our defense managed to clear it. Again, it seems England are all about height and powering through defenses, which didn’t work against our defense. Speaking of our defense..
- Lee Sang Min is GOAT. I don’t know what it is about the recent Korean youth teams but we’ve had Jang Hyun Soo in 2011, Yeon Je Min in 2013, and now Lee Sang Min in 2015. JHS and LSM were captains, YJM became a captain very recently (GK Lee Chang Geun was the captain back then, though now the prowess of Kim Dong Jun has overtaken LCG. Still, KDJ + LCG + Gu Sung Yoon is probably the best GK trio the U23’s will ever see. Anyway…). Lee Sang Min could’ve arguably been MotM for all three of our group stage matches (I think he certainly deserves that award for England at the very least). He’s had a near flawless tournament so far and if you followed Twitter at all, you’ll realize that this man has saved our a** on numerous occasions throughout all three games. I’m very excited to see how he’ll turn out. I personally hope he’ll go pro like Kim Roman and Woo Chan Yang (the two 18 year olds at Pohang going straight from high school to pro) but I’m sure he’ll make the best decision for himself.
- Park Myung Soo is wicked fast – I saw him chase a through ball for a cross that didn’t connect and went out on the right side but that speed… legit thought I was watching Gareth Bale or something
- Yoon Jong Gyu had a bad day – despite an outstanding outing vs Brazil and a decent/solid outing against Guinea Yoon had a bit of a tough time against the England left flank, as he got dribbled on more than one occasion.
So to conclude the England segment: Congrats to our boys for a wonderful performacne throughout the group stages, and let’s hope we can do the same vs. our next opponent.
Speaking of the next opponent, we’re going to face the top third place team from from groups ACD. Here’s a little graphic talking about the possibilities:
As of now, our third place opponents will either be Chile (A), Belgium (D), or Australia/Argentina (C). With what has happened so far, we are going to get 3D, which is Belgium. And if things go as expected, we are certain to get Belgium. But in the very rare event that Argentina and Australia tie, which would put Australia third place with two points, we actually end up getting Chile – the host country high off a 4-1 against the United States. And with the way things have gone so far I’d actually rather play Belgium the most. Revenge for 2014 anyone?
The Argentina-Australia game is currently at half time with Australia up 1-0, so in about 45 minutes we will see – will we get Belgium? Or Chile? Both teams won once, drew once, and lost once. From what we’ve seen in the tourney so far I’d say we have a fair chance. Considering we conceded 0 to the likes of Brazil England and Guinea, I’d say another clean sheet could be in our future. In 45 minutes, I will update the title of this post to confirm who will be our RO16 opponent.
Looking even furhter ahead, assuming we beat Belgium/Chile… our next opponent would be, in all likelihood, FRANCE, the winners of Group F. Having beaten Syria 6-1 (we beat them 7-0!) and Paraguay 4-3 (we beat them 3-0!) and about to beat New Zealand by a ridiculous margin, France will be our toughest opponent yet (or maybe Brazil was, idk). Do we have a chance against France? Who knows? But first things first: CJC and the squad will certainly be focusing entirely on Belgium Chile before France.