This past weekend was quite uneventful – a lot of our KPA were rested for their clubs after the international break, so only Koo JC and Ji DW started (no surprise right). Meanwhile, Korea U19 played the second match of the group stage against hosts Bahrain and came really close to losing, but team maknae Cho Youngwook, two years younger than the rest of the players in the age group, came to the rescue with two crucial goals in 84′ and 90’+. More after the jump:
|Son Heungmin||Tottenham||West Brom||1-1 D||bench start + 18'|
|Ji Dongwon||@Augsburg||Schalke||1-1 D||90'|
|Koo Jacheol||@Augsburg||Schalke||1-1 D||90'|
|Lee Chungyong||@Palace||West Ham||1-0 L||bench|
|Ki Sungyueng||Swansea||@Arsenal||2-3 L||bench start +19'|
|Hwang Heechan||Red Bull Salzburg||@Wolfsberger||2-2 D||bench start + 17'|
|Suk Hyun-Jun||Trabzonspor||Akhisarspor||0-0 D||72'|
JDW and KJC played quietly well as usual. The main talking points (if you can even call them talking points) come from SHM and KSY this weekend.
SON‘s chances of increasing his goal tally and extending his monster-mode September form were slightly dashed due to the fatigue that comes with international break, but he actually player quite well in the 18 minutes he was given. Of course his highlight ball touch vid was uploaded within an hour, and if you start watching at 1:34 you will see that SHM played an important part in producing the equalizer vs. West Brom:
While some fans were a little annoyed that SHM was spared against West Brom (and lost his #1 spot on Whoscored.com to Neymar because of his sub appearance), I actually think Pocchettino made the right decision on this one.
- Playing at the Azadi well over 1200 m above sea level kind of sucks
- The Leverkusen match is coming up on Wednesday and to be honest, that’s the match that matters more. He also has a better chance of scoring there as well due to 1) familiarity and 2) not as strong defenses.
- It’s a high pressing team vs. another high pressing team and had SHM played 90′ against West Brom he most definitely wouldn’t have been at his best vs. Leverkusen.
KSY had his first chance to impress new manager Bob Bradley (who thought this was a good idea?) and didn’t have the best of games. He was “tidy” as usual but he had some really weird brain farts mixed in there. Whether he gets to start the next game will almost be entirely down to whether KSY can convince Bradley, in training, that he usually does not make these kinds of mistakes. But were these turnovers completely on accident? I’ve read some conspiracy theories on Naver where people claim that Ki just wants to get sold in the winter, but of course, losing possession like that is not the most wise thing to do in front of your potential future employers.
Now onto the Bahrain match. I watched a good 80′ of this match before turning it off in frustration. Unfortunately, it was then that the floodgates opened for us. Here was the XI:
The lineup was more or less expected, with the most notable change being Kang Jihoon slotting in for Han Chanhee. Where HCH is more of a CAM/SS hybrid who plays behind the striker, Kang Jihoon is a wide FW by trade – perhaps AIS wanted a slightly more offensive approach. The defense also saw considerable change – while Choi Ikjin is pretty much set as the team’s RB (unless Yoon Jonggyu figures out whether he wants to be a RB or a RW and starts doing well in training), this lineup saw Lee Sangmin back into the squad alongside the giant Jeong Taewook and Woo Chanyang back in his usual LB position.
Things that went well / positive takeaways:
Cho Youngwook, the 17 year old, is causing quite a stir in the football community. This guy is going to be the next star of Korean football if he can shine in 2017 and get signed to a steping stone league or the Bundesliga. He reminds me a lot of a hybrid between Hwang Heechan and Kim Seungdae in his prime. Like Pohang KSD, CYW can break offsides traps very well and has a number of good finesse finishes in him; like Hwang HC, he dribbles well and is physically very strong. Keep an eye out for this guy – he just might finish this tournament top scorer.
Lee Sangmin – Lee Sangmin produced the greatest defensive performance from a Korean 17 year old back at tje 2015 U17 World Cup. He verified the hype around him with a great performance against Bahrain, rarely missing an aerial challenge or tackle.
Defensive shape – this team is quite organized and can hold defensive shape even when getting stretched wide by wingers thanks to great workrate from the CM and the wingers. Bahrain held on to the ball for much longer than I would have liked, but we didn’t concede from open play and only got hit with the most blatantly offsides goal I’ve ever seen. Speaking of which:
Things that didn’t go well:
The ref – we’re playing the hosts here, yes, but this goal.
Like come on, I know AFC referees suck but I’ve never seen an offsides so painfully obvious in my life..
The defensive midfielders – in this 4-4-2 there isn’t much creativity coming out of the Park HB – Kim GW pairing. They do a good job of tracking back and occasionally covering for the fullbacks, but I’m a little skeptical whether they work together well. Honestly in this 4-4-2, I would play a Han Chan Hee – Park Han Bin MF pair. Kim GW of Ulsan Hyundai (over 500 minutes already!) is the new captain of this team but he was guilty of ball watching / letting passes go past him too easily at times.
The first 80 minutes – It actually reminded me quite a bit of our 0-0 draw with Syria. In the highlights you see Kim Siwoo hitting the post but what I saw was 80 minutes of ineffective attacks. Again, against Bahrain we lacked a creative player a la Han Chanhee or Lim Minhyeok. Cho Youngwook – Kang Ji hoon with two defensive midfielders behind them falls a little flat – fortunately, AIS made the right substitutions in time.
No tactical nous – it’s starting to feel very Stielike-esque (I’m pretty sure I said this in the Thailand recap as well). AIS feels like he doesn’t have an offensive strategy. STY is a guy who has an offensive strategy but really doesn’t have a defensive one – AIS is sort of the opposite. Against much stronger much opponents, like the ones we’ll be facing in 2017, we’re going to struggle to break down defenses, especially considering that we couldn’t break down Bahrain’s.
No Baek Seung Ho – Ahn Iksoo REALLY doesn’t like Baek Seung Ho. This match I believe marks Baek SH’s 5th game with AIS, and in total he’s played less than 60 minutes (45 came from one game, against France in the 2015 U18 Suwon JS Cup). Baek Seung Ho would have been real useful this game, and it’s a shame a player like him isn’t playing (for neither this team nor for Barca B).
The next match: Against Saudi Arabia I think it’s important to show that we can get a cleansheet. Though the scorelines tell you the defense has been bad, for most of the matches at least the defense actually hasn’t been bad. One was a bad mistake and one was the referee not knowing what offsides means (or playing home favorites). Perhaps on the 19th we can actually get that first clean sheet for once.