Midweek Listing: Benfica vs Bayer Leverkusen + Tavern Kickaround

One game to focus on at the Tavern for midweek: last Champions League group match with Bayer Leverkusen visiting Benfica. Just a few hours to go before kickoff.

Benfica v Bayer Leverkusen  2:45 pm US EST / 4:45 am Korea Time

US Broadcast: ESPN3 and Direct TV

Leverkusen has already qualified for the knockout stage. However, they could use a victory today to win Group C outright. Here’s how group C is shaking out pre-match:

Group C

Home Away Total
Clubs P W D L W D L W D L F A +/- Pts
1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen Bayer 04 Leverkusen 5 2 0 1 1 0 1 3 0 2 7 4 3 9
2 AS Monaco FC AS Monaco FC 5 1 1 0 1 1 1 2 2 1 2 1 1 8
3 FC Zenit FC Zenit 5 1 1 1 1 0 1 2 1 2 4 4 0 7
4 SL Benfica SL Benfica 5 1 0 1 0 1 2 1 1 3 2 6 -4 4

In the previous match with Benfica, Son Heung-Min provided the 2nd goal in a comprehensive 3-1 win. The Lisbon side struggled overall in Group C and will not advance to the knockouts. Son leads Leverkusen with 3 Champions League tournament goals + 2 in the qualifying stage = a breakout year for Son in European competition.

Over to Group D, Ji Dong-Won is still in recovery – restarted light training recently but won’t be available for Borussia Dortmund who will face Anderlecht today. Like Leverkusen, BVB are already through to the knockouts, but would could win the group outright today.

Tavern Kickaround time:
A dire situation in Gyeongnam as a result of being relegated last weekend, losing to Gwangju in the promotion/relegation playoff, now this:

Almost relegated Seongnam meanwhile has a situation brewing, their mayor (who is also club president) embroiled in controversy over his criticism of K-League officiating. Korean team boss Uli Stielike issued a statement during a meeting on the state of Korean football with K-League coaches in attendance, lamenting what he viewed as possible political meddling in the K-League’s officiating. He urged that politics should stay out of sports.

“Promotions and relegations are all part of life in football,” the former German international said. “It’s regrettable that politics has taken precedence over players and clubs.”

For context regarding K-League machinations, K-League clubs have a ‘different’ arrangement where either corporations or municipal city governments own clubs rather than individuals. There has been discussions amongst analysts and supporters on the best way forward for Korean football -and the issue of club structure / ownership is one of the roots of possible ways improve the overall health of Korean club football going forward. Meantime, perpetuating a model that some say has been a systemic mistake borrowed exclusively from the US / MLS system: the K-League draft has just finished. 540 players applied for the draft. This just in:



Let’s go over to the KFA – they have some interesting items to vote on in their annual poll:

We’ll post later on the KFA poll – including the items up for vote.


Kang Su-Il

We had a Tavern goer AnJrue share this link from Koream on Kang Su-il, a mixed race Korean American forward for Pohang. He’s had quite a difficult time growing up in Korea, facing racial discrimination as a black Korean.  The article covers his remarkable journey, from a chance trial at Incheon United and earning the MVP in the K-League reserve leagues in 2007 (no longer in operation) to his struggles for their first team. Last season Pohang’s coach Hwang Sun-hong gave him a new lease on his football career – since going on loan, he scored 7 goals across competitions for the Steelers and earned a call up to the national team in their December camp.


New contributing writer Evelyn Kim came across info on Hong Myong-Bo’s Share the Dream football charity match -it’s happening this Saturday and features an interesting and fun lineup.  From her comment post:

The first team is “Team Love” and Ahn Jung Hwan is coaching it. The folks I recognize from this first squad are: Kim Seung Gyu / Jung Sung Ryong / Kim Seung Dae / Kang Su-il / Yun Il Lok / Jong Tae-Se

The 2nd is “Team Hope” and Kim Byung Ji is both coaching + playing as the goalkeeper… which is odd! This team has women footballers I recognize: Ji So Yun and Shim So Yeon (she captained the women’s squad at the Asian Games) Kim Jin Hyeon is on that list, along with Jang Hyunsoo / Park Jong Woo / Kim Minwoo and Ha Daesung (he’s been off my radar since the WC)

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  1. I’ll write a post about it, but Stielike should probably keep his mouth shut about things he doesn’t seem to know about. The clubs are owned/financed by the city/provincial governments, they are not pure sporting entities and as such they cannot be viewed like clubs in Europe and elsewhere. It’s like looking at an orange and saying, “why don’t you taste like an apple?”.

    Wondering if Leverkusen’s slip at Benfica will cost them next round? They advance as the 2nd seed meaning they’ll face one of:
    Atletico Madrid
    Real Madrid

    • Yeah I want quite sure what Uli was talking about. There are other cases internationally that clearly have politicians muddlng in domestic football affairs. This doesn’t seem to fit that bill.

    • Stielike’s comment is fair, except that Jae is right in saying that these are city-owned teams and politics are always going to be involved, whether you like it or not. Looking forward to your post on this Jae. Should be a good one.

      Gah, 0-0 v Benfica. Srsly? Oh well, hopefully Leverkusen draw Porto.

      • Of course you don’t want politics to mix, but it’s impossible with those teams because they are inherently political due to their ownership.

        Porto could actually be a pretty tough opponent, but I suppose compared to drawing one of the Spanish teams/Chelsea/PSG they’re the best bet for Leverkusen’s involvement.

    • Jae, you are working too hard! How many articles are you working on or all in one article? Anyways, looking forward to your post!

      • Honestly there’s about 4-5 I’m juggling. Most are pretty simple recaps of the K League season. The two big ones are more reflective opinions on the league situation (politics/ownership/money/etc). Right now they’re separate (problems vs mooted solutions) but maybe I’ll combine them (think it’d be too long though).

  2. BTW, Kang Su-Il’s story is very moving. He’s got a lot of pace and if he works on that currently-awful finishing touch I think he could be a very good second choice winger (is that his position?) for the KNT. I wish him all the best.

    • Yeah he normally plays on the left wing, but after Lee MJ’s departure Hwang SH wanted to give Kim SD more freedom, so Kang SI has often played as a center forward for Pohang. The problem, as far as his NT future goes, is that he’s already 27 (I think), so he’s in theory already in his peak years.

  3. Yes, thank you for the story of Kang Su Il…….I know Koreans take pride in such a homogenous society but this is too much. I hope the guy does well and succeeds, the mental toughness on this kid must be a 10/10.

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