Weekend Roundup: Sunderland’s Great Escape?

Ooh! An account! Hopefully I haven’t royally f*cked something up (yet) and this post finds its way onto the homepage.

There were two huge matches this weekend as far as Koreans Abroad in Europe are concerned. Firstly, Kimbo’s Cardiff traveled to Ki’s Sunderland in a battle of the basement dwellers, and with relegation fast approaching, both teams needed the 3 points. Some ways across the North Sea, Son Heung-Min and Bayer Leverkusen welcomed Borussia Dortmund, a vital matchup for B04, who are desperate to maintain Champions League position under the helm of new boss Sascha Lewandowski.

 

Time to find the table function… couldn’t find the table function… will have one here for you as soon as I do.

Tavern Studio Canada’s Remarks:

  • Kim Bo-Kyung and Cardiff traveled to the Stadium of Light in a vital matchup for both teams. A win would propel the winner out of the drop zone and send the loser into near certain relegation. Unfortunately, Solksjaer’s team selection did not feature Kim Bo Kyung at all, and Ki Sung Yueng was out with tendonitis. I’d be lying if I said I watched the game – I figured it was the perfect opportunity to sleep in on a Sunday morning. The interwebs, after the game, revealed a dominant performance from Gus Poyet’s men, with a flamboyant 4-0 victory in front of their home supporters. It’s been a marvelous couple of weeks for the Black Cats – drawing Manchester City at the Etihad and slaying Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – and this could have been another page in Sunderland’s Great Escape. A brace from Connor Wickham, a penalty from Fabio Borini and Emanuele Giaccherini’s goal off of the bench ran Cardiff ragged.

Remaining fixtures for the basement dwellers:

Sunderland have a trip to Old Trafford and then home games against West Bromwich Albion and Swansea remaining. Fulham surrended a two-goal advantage against Hull City to draw that encounter, leaving them with a trip to the Britannia against Stoke and closing their season at home, facing a Crystal Palace side who flew out of the relegation zone. Norwich were soundly beaten by an inspired Manchester United side, led by player-manager Ryan Giggs after Moyes’ sacking midweek, and their task isn’t much easier. The Canaries have a voyage to Stamford Bridge against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, before hosting the Arsenal at Carrow Road to finish the season. And finally, we have Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Cardiff. They would need a miracle of their own, as they are 2 points adrift of safety with only 2 games left. A trip to Newcastle and curtain closer with Chelsea at home are their remaining fixtures.

  • Meanwhile, Son Heung-Min and Bayer Leverkusen are in a battle of their own – to hang on to that final Champions League play-off spot. After fighting with Borussia Dortmund for second place before Christmas, they had a collapse of epic proportions, falling into 4th/5th place territory, allowing Schalke to surpass them. After Sami Hyypia was dismissed and Sascha Lewandowski was promoted to the main job, Leverkusen put together better results and this weekend, they welcomed Borussia Dortmund in a test of character for B04. Son got the start while fellow “Koreaner” Ryu Seung Woo warmed the bench. Bayer took the lead when Lars Bender headed in a scramble in front of goal off of Son’s corner. The teams exchanged headers (Son involved in the build-up to the 2nd Bayer goal) before Reus converted a penalty to finish an exciting first half. The second half brought no goals and both teams were content sharing the spoils, and with Wolfsburg’s draw earlier, Bayer Leverkusen have a one point lead for the final Champions League allocation.
  • Staying at the BayArena, there will be a new boss next season, and the man tasked with the managerial duties for Bayer Leverkusen next season is Roger Schmidt. The current manager of Red Bull Salzburg likes to employ a very high-pressing 4-4-2, that relies on winning second balls to attack, from what I understood in this tactical analysis. Credit to Jae for finding that on the interwebs. Mind you, I’m no tactical mastermind. I think it’s clear we rely on Jae for that ūüôā

Speaking of Jae, I’ll jump in here (if you don’t mind Tim) and offer up my two cents on Son Heung-Min and the Bayer-Dortmund game. It’s been interesting to see how Bayer have changed/been altered since Sascha Lewandowski re-took over from Sami Hyypia, particularly of course how Son’s role has changed. Under Hyypia, Son generally had a slightly freer role and was allowed to come inside at will and play in the ’10’ spot just behind Stefan Kiessling, leaving the width to the overlapping Sebastian Boenisch. While that was a pleasing change for Korean fans, seeing Son take on a greater attacking role, it could be argued that it left the team open defensively and maybe a little too ‘free’ in terms of their attacking options.

Lewandowski certainly seems to have added some more direction and instructions to the team and Son’s game. The shape is more rigid and the ideas clearer. Stay disciplined, don’t lose your shape, be organized, and counter. As such, Son has played a more disciplined left wing role, where his job is to provide width to the attack and not much else. I wasn’t hugely impressed with Son’s performance against Dortmund. Lukasz Piszczek did fairly well to keep him quiet, and in terms of shooting Son was contained to long range, speculative efforts. Son’s greatest contribution was actually his corner kicks. I was actually very impressed with his corner delivery, as he has a ‘heavy’ ball that has plenty of pace and drop on it (compared to the corners that kind of float in). Don’t think he’ll get them off of Ki, but maybe he should. Anyway, back to Tim.

Leverkusen have Frankfurt and Werder Bremen left, Wolfsburg close with Stuttgart and Borussia Monchengladbach (best name ever).

  • Staying in Germany, Koo Ja Cheol made a sub appearance in the 73rd minute as Mainz assure themselves of a Europa League spot with a 2-0 win against Nurnberg. He had this to say post-game, when being questioned on how he feels about being assigned to the bench. Google Translate, go!

“Every player would love to play always 90 minutes, that’s clear. But the team has played well recently. I must continue to work hard on me, and be in the new season to attack again.”

 

  • Park Joo Ho’s season is over due to injury, and he’ll return home to the Fatherland to prep for the World Cup (that is, if Hong Myung Bo calls).
  • Meanwhile, Augsburg faced relegation prospects Hamburger SV (oh no!). Hong Jeong Ho was an unused sub while Ji Dong Won replaced Sascha Molders in the 72nd minute and got a pair of shots away, including this chance.

“Attempt missed. Dong-Won Ji right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Halil Altintop.” (ESPNFC).

  • In the Netherlands, Park Ji Sung, who has stated he wants to do one more year at PSV, started against PEC Zwolle. The former Korean skipper had two shots, one on target, and worked hard as always to help PSV move into Europa League territory and out of the “must qualify for the Europa League qualifiers” zone.
  • Finally, we go to the Championship. With QPR assured a playoff spot alongside Derby County, likely Wigan and maybe Brighton & Hove Albion or Reading, the Rangers were playing to get that second leg at home in the semi-finals. Yun was an unused sub in a 1-1 draw against Millwall that saw Harry Redknapp’s side squander a lead in the 90th minute.
  • Just his second goal of the season, but Lee Chung Yong will be happy to have scored in a 3-1 victory at Hillsbrough against Sheffield Wednesday. He had a fantastic game, creating chances, almost getting a brace, but we’ll be content with this goal that was either very well placed or a total fluke. Ehhh… a total fluke. Watch the match highlights:

  • And slightly off-topic but why not. Joey Barton got a kick out of Yun Suk Young washing his feet in the sink.

https://twitter.com/Joey7Barton/status/459657157903126528

That’s all I can cram into this Roundup, and with only a couple weeks to go before 1) the European seasons finish and 2) Hong Myung Bo names the men he’s taking to Brazil, it’s safe to say the best is just getting started!

About Tim Lee 231 Articles
The maple syrup guzzling kimchijjigae craving Korean-Canadian, eh?