Today in Paris will unfortunately be a day to forget. Kicking off the tournament against the hosts France was always going to be quite the ask for our Taegeuk Ladies, but today’s performance left a lot of concerns about how far this side can go in the group of death. For those who missed the match, here are FIFA’s highlights:
It began early, with the earliest goal ever in the opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup coming in the 9th minute. Korea’s defense had been run ragged for nine minutes and on a cutback cross to the center of the box, Eugenie Le Sommer pounced and put an unstoppable shot off the top cross bar and in. Korea calmed down a little bit after that but then France began to take advantage of one of their advantages over Korea, height.
Off of corners and set pieces, the French players were having their way and only VAR intervened after a ball headed back across goal was smashed in by Bathy in the 29th minute. VAR was right that Bathy was offsides, but unfortunately it was by quite a small margin and the argument will continue over whether or not VAR is good or bad. The French would not have to wait much longer though as towering 6’2″ defender Wendie Renard, the tallest player at this World Cup, would prey upon Korea’s defense for two headed goals in the 35th and 47th minutes. 3-0 at the half and it was a French party in the sold out Parc des Princes.
The second half could only be considered better in that Korea at least had some spells where they had the ball and could pass it around a little bit more. Unfortunately, Ji Soyun, Korea’s ace and the Chelsea Women’s star, was starved of opportunities to show her class. In the 85th minute, Amadine Henry, who always makes me think of Arsenal legend Theirry Henry, curled in a worldie from outside the box to cap off a perfect opening for the French. For the Taegeuk Ladies, questions will need to be asked of if they are ready for this World Cup. Let’s start at the top.
What was Yoon Deok-yeo’s plan here?
One of the things that I have enjoyed in the past few years was watching this team improve in their play throughout Asia especially. In the past two years the Taegeuk Ladies have levelled the playing field between them and the Asian powerhouses, Japan and Australia. Outside of Asia? The story has been remarkably different. Today was a humbling moment for Yoon Deok-yeo, who has been a steward of this women’s side since 2013. He has brought them to two straight World Cups, a first for our women; but now the question has to be: how much farther can he take them? In 2019, his preparations for this World Cup have been littered with so much tactical and personnel tinkering that we’re starting to have nightmares of how Shin Taeyong prepared last year. On the broadcast, Aly Wagner pointed out that the Korean players looked confused and lacking confidence. It’s a problem across the board and questions have to be asked about why Yoon has been unable to stick with a specific set of players or tactics all year. What is his plan here?
It’s unfortunate, but at the moment the top three Korean goalkeepers are all injured. Kim Jungmi and Yoon Younggeul are both home recovering from long-term injuries. Their presumed back-up, Kang Ga-ae, is nursing a thigh injury. In this match, Kim Minjung could have done very little about all four goals conceded, but that was a very difficult environment she was thrust into. I hope she can dust herself off before the Nigeria match.
Why didn’t Lee Mina start?
This is probably the biggest mistake that Yoon Deok-yeo made today. Once Lee Mina entered the match in the 69th minute, the Taegeuk Ladies looked markedly better and produced their finest spell of possession until the Henry goal. Yoon Deok-yeo must find a way to accommodate both Ji Soyun and Lee Mina into his midfield. If he doesn’t, I predict the midfield will struggle to create good scoring opportunities.
For Nigeria, it is really anybody’s guess how Yoon will line up, but he needs to try something different. Here’s my idea:
I think that is enough questions to ask for now. It’s been a rough day for the Taegeuk Ladies. They will recover for the next few days and go again on June 12 against Nigeria.
Nigeria vs Korea Republic, June 12, 9 AM EST, 10 PM KST
Stade des Alps, Grenoble
Broadcast Info: MBC Sports+ (Korea), FS1 (US)