Weekend Listings // Tricky UCL Group for Son + Captain Korea is back?!

The dog days of high school are over, and off I go to college (it’s the final step BEFORE university in Quebec, don’t ask why they do this). As you’ve all noticed, this means weeks on end with little to do followed by several weeks of too much to do – which is why my posting for the time left* on this site will, though I wish for it to be regular, will likely take up an even more irregular pattern than usual. Apologies in advance.

Quick Headlines

  • Weekend Listings
  • Son Heung-min’s UCL Group is tricky. Dortmund and Madrid await.
  • Ki Sung-yueng returns to training, but will he be ready in time for the World Cup qualifiers?
  • Girona and Manchester City
  • Programming note + my thoughts on the Tavern’s future

Weekend Listings

It’s been a while since I’ve been on listings duty, but here goes:

Koo Jacheol + Ji Dongwon: Augsburg vs Monchengladbach, Saturday 9:30am. It’s been a toothless start for Augsburg and Korean Footballers Abroad has them as “destined for relegation.” Ji’s status is unclear, but it seems like he’s still going through some injury niggles, so it might only be Koo in the line-up.

Lee Chungyong + Ki Sungyueng: Palace vs Swansea, Saturday 10am. Chungy’s best case scenario is the bench (he did get a few minutes in League Cup this weekend), while Ki is in South Korea (see below). Lee especially needs to get the hell out of the there, but he did this recently:

Kwon Changhoon: Dijon FCO vs Montpellier, Saturday 2pm. I feel like we somehow missed this:

A debut goal, and I’ve only been hearing good things about Kwon since he’s started for Dijon. Montpellier will be stern opposition, but another good game and Kwon will be on track for our Monthly KPA Power Ranking (which is returning this year!).

Hwang Heechan: Salzburg @ Sturm-Graz, Sunday 10.30am. Hwang appears to have picked up a knock?

Son Heungmin: Spurs vs Burnley, Sunday 11am. After two appearances as a super-sub, Son seems like he’s fully back in contention and should get his first start of the season.

Son’s UCL Group

Perhaps a little premature, but Spurs are most definitely in sh*t. Defending champions Real Madrid and a dangerous Borussia Dortmund will be the frontrunners for the top two spots in the group, while Cypriot mainstays APOEL round out the group phase.

It will be the first time since 2013 that Son will get the opportunity to take on a mammoth club such as Real – obviously his stint in the Bundesliga saw him play Bayern and Dortmund, while the 2013 campaign saw them play PSG and Manchester United, but this may be one of the biggest stages for Son’s club career. The dilemma, of course, if he gets the opportunity, with Pochettino still looking like he’s hesitant on whether to play a 3- or 4-back system this season, which will be the X factor for Son of course.

But crap English media (such as the Daily Mail) are suggesting that Son could be crucial against Dortmund, which is an interesting hypothesis. His career record against Der BVB is 4-1-2, with 6 goals in 7 games. And though last year, Dortmund topped their UCL group against Real Madrid, the recent loss of Ousmane Dembele to Barça (an over-priced transfer, we can all agree…) means not all is sunshine and rainbows immediately in the North Rhine.

(That said, Dortmund, I know of a certain young Korean player you were interested in who you can pick up with a fraction of your huge 135.5 million pound pay day…)

We’ll look at Son’s history as the Dortmund-killer and his UCL past in later posts.

Ki Sung-yueng returns

Ki Sung-yueng made a surprise early appearance at Korean national team training camp today, which has been going on for the past week with the Asia-based players. Having only recently undergone surgery, Swansea told him to take an early trip to Paju as he would not feature in this weekend’s matches. If you’re curious, Ki had surgery to “clear the inflammation in his right knee, but also tendon repair and necrotic tissue removal.”

He’s resumed training and said that the recovery is going faster than hoped. He also speaks of a “completely new environment” since Shin Tae-yong has taken over and that he is confident that whether or not he plays, the team will be able to progress past this “difficult space” and into the World Cup.

We can only hope, as Russia 2018 would likely be Ki’s last venture in international football. You’ll recall that Ki has often iterated the idea of an early retirement to take care of his family.

Girona and Manchester City

This happened recently (The full Guardian article here.)

Manchester City’s parent company seals deal for major stake in Girona

Catalan side promoted to La Liga added to CFG’s global portfolio
Also, this happened recently:

Although Paik will only be going to the Spanish 3rd tier with Girona B, it’s gotten me thinking, if Paik flourishes there, where could he move within the City Football Group?

I do have some researching as to how frequently or infrequently players sift between clubs within the group (I keep thinking back to Hwang Heechan and Liefering -> Salzburg -> Leipzig at Red Bull), but in a miracle world, there is some hope that Paik could go on to play for Manchester City one day. Which would make me cry a little because I’m MUFC ’till I die, but I’ll digress.
Programming note
A rough/tentative schedule of the posts to come as we return to regular hours:
Tomorrow: I’ll have an article on the national team, most probably something to do with Jeonbuk’s essential role in Shin Tae-yong’s team.
Sunday: I’ll try to post out another piece on the side’s renewed determination (Son had some interesting comments on the weekend).
Monday: We’ll bring you the weekend recap probably on Monday, and certainly a Q&A preview of THE IRAN GAME TO END ALL IRAN GAMES
Tuesday/Wednesday: The Official Tavern Preview, Revenge Iran Edition
Thursday: Iran vs South Korea (tearfully won’t be able to live-stream it for you guys, I have a class I can’t get out of…)… recap, player ratings, all that good stuff.

P.S.

You might have caught the little asterisk in my introduction. Roy already touched on this here, but I feel compelled to add a little bit more – we owe it to you. The Tavern is obviously a labour of love for all of us who have written everything from 1 to 500 articles/posts for the site. There are several reasons why we’re looking at closing up shop, but I can only speak for myself, so here goes. When I joined the Tavern a couple years ago, the site was on the way up. We had a full slate of regularly motivated writers, each bringing their own perspectives to the site ahead of a really tumultuous time – Choi out, Hong in, Son soaring to new heights, Ki asserting himself, a solid amount of new KPA’s. That time allowed us to write about a lot of “news-y” pieces that you guys will have missed, simply because there was so much going on. It was also a time when Twitter wasn’t really a go-to reference and the Korean football community was microscopic on that medium. Further to that, so many of the issues that were unearthed (military conscription, youth reform, failings of the K League) allowed us to write longer pieces.

My view is that things are changing, and we haven’t had the time to keep up. People expect us to regularly publish, and our view counts reflect that we’ve lost a lot of readers from 2014 and haven’t been able to come close to that viewership since. It’s my own personal thing, but writing an article for 75 people is crap. Writing for myself is much more fun. And when time is shortened, issues have been beaten to death, and news reaches a better audience on Tweet-form, you can’t write for yourself. If we had 400 people reading every post, then I’d go for it, but if it’s just a few and a simple tweet can say the same thing and reach ten times the audience on Twitter, then it’s easier.

Another more important note is that the Tavern has and always will be (and rightfully so) Roy’s site. His thought-provoking long reads were the hallmark of the Tavern, and he is understandably going down a different path in this chapter of his life. Dwight Schrute (who has a real name, but I like Dwight better) on my go-to binge-watching TV comedy, The Office (cheesy, but I love it), said this about the show ending: “The Office ending was basically about the cast going to the producers and saying, ‘you know what, it’s time to end this. Let’s have a great season, a great finale, and let’s end this right. It just felt like it was the time to let it go.’

This seems to be one of the times when we have to let it go. Roy’s said we’re going to carry through to the World Cup. Hell yes we will. We’re going to qualify, so let’s have a great final season, a great finale, and end this right.

This being said – though I have no idea what form it will take, rest assured that in future, I will, in some capacity, continue to write about/comment/cover Korean football. I’ll even bet that some of the other writers won’t be able to escape its lure either. I’m pretty sure the time is right to let the Tavern go (who knows, maybe we’ll change our minds – nothing’s really set in stone, which is why I’m not sure I should be writing this), but I won’t be letting Korean football go. It will continue to write history, for good or for bad, and I’ll strive to continue to pick up the pen.

What would you like us to write about?

Periodically there have been dead patches where nothing’s happened (this summer), so we try some pieces, some flunk, some don’t. What do YOU want us to write about? Korea’s defensive problems? The hidden KPA’s? North Korean players abroad? What the hell happened to the Barça Boys? Bring back the old fallen stars series (this Lee Chun-soo post remains one of the most popular in our site’s history). Debates on controversial issues that delve a bit outside of Korean football (VAR, for one?) The history of soccer in Korea – how and when did it come to the peninsula? Any other awesome, interesting or even rough, nascent ideas? We’ll take them all, and if they’re interesting, we’ll try to write about them. Our site depends on you guys, too. Let us know! 🙂

About Tim Lee 263 Articles

The maple syrup guzzling kimchijjigae craving Korean-Canadian, eh?

6 Comments

  1. I’ve been a huge follower of this site for a couple of years now and it’s surprising and sad to see that the end may be near. I just wanted to let you guys know that the work you guys do is amazing! There definitely isn’t any other website that has everything you need to know about Korean soccer in English. I’m sure you guys have tons of other big fans like me that don’t really comment on articles. You guys have been my go-to for years and I’m honestly not sure what I will do to get my Korean soccer news if you guys are no longer a thing.

    As for article ideas, I wanna know what you guys think would be the ultimate all-time South Korea XI + bench (and coach! But I guess that would be Hiddink?). I know you guys did a similar article where you each separately drafted a couple of Korean XIs, but I would love to see a collaborative roster. Basically, if you had to face Brazil or Germany tomorrow and you were given the option to choose any Korean player *in their primes and in-form*. Another article that I think would be fun would be the uniform history of the KNT. They’ve had some pretty wild uniforms in the past and it would be cool if you guys had an article that compiled every single one that has ever existed.

    If this really does mean it’s the last season for the Tavern, please finish strong! The Office had a great final season and I’m sure you guys will too.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Justin. Rest assured that we’re going to be continuing covering Korean football in some way, even if it’s not at this particular website. Uniform history sounds like something I’d really love doing – I’ll put it on my list. Best Korean XI ever as well. Cheers.

  2. Love the Tavern and I second everything Justin wrote. Hope you guys can keep it going but understand if you can’t.
    I have another question, not saying this deserves a separate post, but perhaps at least you guys could respond with what you know. I am based in the US and cannot read Korean news that well. I was watching a video on espnfc, and the commentators sounded Australian. Towards the end of the video, they mention something about an issue with “a few delicate snowflakes” among the Korean players. I definitely hadn’t heard the players referred to as such. Is this something that the Korean media has exposed as a weakness for the current batch of Korean players? Like a generational issue where the young guys aren’t tough like players from past generations? Perhaps it is out of nowhere, but because they are Australian and supposedly follow Asian football, maybe they know/hear things that I can’t. Here’s the link- the comment is around the 1:25 mark:
    http://www.espnfc.com/south-korea/story/3182467/south-korea-to-feel-pressure-vs-european-iran-in-wc-qualifier
    Thanks guys!

    • Don’t think the pundits quite get the pressure that Korean media puts on the team. It’s a load of nonsense. Haven’t heard such a thing from the media which has mostly outed Stielike and not been extremely critical of the team.

      Thanks for the kind words, Jon. But see, I already ran out of time for the two posts I wanted to do this weekend. C’est la vie.

    • Well, I mean the current crop certainly does seem to suffer more when under pressure or when something negative happens than previous generations, but the snowflake comment seems a bit out there. I don’t read/listen to every thing the media says here about the KNT, but the focus tends to be more on the coach than the players (this is also true of K League club coverage). I’ve actually found Korean media is generally quite sympathetic towards the players and there is rarely any sustained negative coverage towards them. If anyone here is hard on the players it will generally be netizens who will sometimes slate players on article comments and message boards.

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