[Rio Olympics Preview] Korea vs. Germany: “Going All In”

With a resounding 8-0 win against Fiji, and with Germany and Mexico battling out a 2-2 draw, a win for Korea this coming Sunday would see us automatically qualify into the group stages. Unfortunately, this win needs to come against Germany of all teams. That being said, this U-23 German team may have some scary names but they too have their flaws that we can exploit. This will likely be an even, high scoring match. But if Korea really focuses and gets that very worrisome defense down, this game is winnable. In the words of Shin Tae Yong, we should treat this match as if it were a final.

Here is the Germany roster:


Sort of like Korea, Germany has a great squad but its defense will let it down. In Timo Horn Germany has a very solid goalkeeper. In midfield Germany brought on the Bender twins along with some very very scary attacking midfielders in Leon Goretzka, Maximillian Meyer, Julian Brandt, and Serge Gnabry – two Schalke players, a Leverkusen player, and an Arsenal player. Our chances will be boosted a little as Goretzka was injured against Mexico, but his replacement, Serge Gnabry, will undoubtedly have a lot of fun running against Shim Sang Min. Gnabry played very well against Mexico. Shim Sang Min did not play very well vs. Fiji and still struggles when it comes to pace (and crosses). Therefore, Shim Sang Min.. worries me very very much.

Germany’s starting forward, Davie Selke, scored 10 goals for RB Leipzig last season. He will also be quite a threat to us, but not quite a threat as the four aforementioned attacking midfielders, who can really do a lot of damage to our defense, which has shown in the past to 1) concede three goals to Japan in less than 20 minutes and 2) at times, have a hard time defending against amateur players in Fiji. Their other wild card, Nils Petersen, was once a Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen striker but currently plays for Freiburg – with 21 goals, he was the top scorer in the 2. Bundesliga.

However, the key to beating Germany is the fact that Germany’s defense is about as suspect as ours. I do not know much against Leipzig’s Klostermann, and Matthias Ginter has shown to be a solid defender, but guys. Two of the starting 4, Sule and Toljan, are HOFFENHEIM players (for those of you not in the know Hoffenheim is the Bundesliga team with by far the leakiest defense). By virtue of playing for Hoffenheim, they’re guaranteed to be error prone defenders. If Gnabry is going to have fun running against Shim Sang Min, then Son Heung Min and Suk Hyun Jun – who are both almost guaranteed to start against Germany – will have a lot of fun running at Toljan and Sule. Which is why so many people are predicting that this match will see plenty of goals. Perhaps not as much as Japan-Nigeria, but still, with some suspect defenses, this game might go to 3-2 or something.

Germany will also probably have 1) midfield dominance 2) a very strong set piece threat and most worryingly, 3) an ability to ruthlessly finish counterattacks caused by errors/pass misses from the Korean defense. If we make the same mistakes we did against Fiji, we’re in for a rough ride when Sunday rolls around.


Korea Team News and Lineup Questions:

With the draw between Germany and Mexico Korea can afford to go all out on this Germany game. To go for the win, STY is 100% certain to make quite a few changes.

It seems, by consensus, that the following players will start: Suk Hyun Jun, Son Heung Min, Kim Dong Jun, Jang Hyun Soo, Shim Sang Min (for the lack of other left backs) and Kwon Chang Hoon. The Lord Hwang Hee Chan will be a solid option off the bench as he brings energy and fantastic dribbles to any game he plays (he also showed his limitations against Fiji, with some poor finishing explaining why he still plays in the Austria second division despite his other shining qualities)

Now come the points of debate:

Ryu Seung Woo: after a very strong showing against Fiji (easily our MOTM), will Ryu get the start against Germany? Or will Son Heung Min take his spot? Because SHM is a guaranteed start this time, one of MCJ KCH or RSW will have to be moved to the bench. I suspect MCJ will be benched after a weak showing against Fiji – he didn’t contribute much, seemed a little nervous all game, and seemed to be more preoccupied with trying not to get injured. Thus, I believe the AM line will be RSW – SHM – KCH or RSW – KCH – SHM or SHM – RSW – KCH. I personally expect the latter because RSW works well as a shadow striker while STY seems set on playing KCH on the right. But I would prefer the second option because KCH is not a wide player but a #8 in my eyes. However, Tim believes that RSW will get cut due to MCJ’s goal threat. (Explain yourself here!)

Defensive mid. Park Yong Woo will probably start as our pass facilitator. Or maybe Lee Chang Min will start instead. But in the DM department, will we go for the fighter in Lee Chan Dong or will we go for Jang Hyun Soo as a DM again? I really don’t know what to make of this situation to be honest. Assuming that we will go for a 4-2-3-1, there are a couple options. First, there is Jang Hyun Soo – PYW. Then there is Lee Chan Dong – PYW, with Jang Hyun Soo playing as a CB. I have no preferences and lack the expertise to tell you with authority which would work best. I suspect Lee Chan Dong will make his appearance as he will be needed to tank / tackle the living daylights out of the crafty German attacking midfielders, but that also runs the risk of getting LCD red carded, in which case PYW – JHS would be the slightly safer way to go. If LCD does not play this game, he will certainly make his Olympic debut vs. Mexico. If LCD does play, it also begs the question of who will make way for Jang Hyun Soo? I assume Jung Seung Hyun will move to the bench since Choi Kyu Baek has played with Jang Hyun Soo before.

The right back. Tim suggests that we might see Park Dong Jin instead of Lee Seul Chan due to Park’s higher physicality. I am not quite convinced by Park Dong Jin as of now, but LSC hasn’t been spectacular either. I’d go the safe route with LSC still, but Tim does have a point that we’ll need all the physicality we can get against a guy like Julian Brandt…

I suspect that SHM will have to be a little bit unselfish because everyone in Germany knows of Son Heung Min’s great threat, especially with former teammates Brandt and Lars Bender in the squad. He is almost certain to get double teamed, so I suspect him attracting attention away from our other established finishers will be crucial to scoring goals. This STY team has been able to score out of nowhere in the past, but we’re really going to need to be way more clinical than we were against Fiji if we are to stand a chance…

There is one more question that remains as well. Will we play a 3 back / 5 back against Germany? Tim and I toyed with the idea a bit going into the Olympics but my answer, at least, is a resounding no. First of all, I am resigned to the fact that Germany will find a way around our defense no matter what. JHS + CKB + JSH isn’t much of an improvement over two CB’s. But adding one more attacker at the cost of that third defender, I believe, is huge. We need all the firepower we can muster in this game because we need to go for the early goal ASAP. As with the majority of Korea’s matches thus far (at all levels really), if we score first we win, and if we concede first, we generally always lose (the last time the senior NT came from behind to win after getting scored on first, interestingly, was in September 2014 against Venezuela, when coincidentally Shin Tae Yong was covering for the recently resigned HMB).



I’m predicting a 3-2 Korea win. We have the much higher desire to get a result because the Olympics actually means something to us, more so than any other team except maybe Brazil. Moreover, SHM + SHJ and our three attacking midfielders are more than capable of scoring goals against any team, and the Lord Hwang Hee Chan can really cause some trouble in the German half late into the game. If the mental lapses stop, we have a good chance. That is a huge if, but I hope that STY will instill the right mentality in his players, just as he was able to produce such a mentality change in the second half against Fiji (JHS was interviewed as saying that although all the players feared a hairblower treatment from STY at half-time, they were surprised to find that he instead reassured the players, pinpointed the pressure and the mentality that was off, and told them instead to play more freely – 여유있게 – and look what happened in the second half).

A win against Germany, moreover, not only means guaranteed place in the RO8 but also gives us a chance to take a bit of a rest and build team chemistry against Mexico instead of having to stress and tax ourselves over needing a result.

Catch the game at the following times (credit to Jitevra on BSK!)
Monday, August 8, 2016 4:00 AM Korea Time
Monday, August 8, 2016 5:00 AM Australia Time
Sunday, August 7, 2016 9:00 PM Germany Time
Sunday, August 7, 2016 4:00 PM Brazil Time
Sunday, August 7, 2016 9:00 AM Hawaii Time
Sunday, August 7, 2016 12:00 Noon Pacific Time
Sunday, August 7, 2016 3:00 PM Eastern Time
Sunday, August 7, 2016 8:00 PM UK Time(GMT)

This may sound a little ironic given that we won 8-0, but let’s hope that we do NOT play like we did against Fiji when Sunday/Monday rolls around.


About Jinseok 260 Articles
Diehard Korean football fan. https://www.taegukwarriors.com/jinseoks-story/


  1. Nice read! Just a couple of mistakes, though – Nils Petersen is not a GK, he’s a striker. In fact he was 2. Bundesliga’s 2nd highest scorer last season with 21 goals. As for Davie Selke, he “was” a Werder player but he moved to RB Leipzig permanently for €8m.

    Keep up the good work!

    • lol oops rookie mistake – I remember Nils Petersen making a couple of Bayern appearances back in the day now that you mention it – I clearly misread the roster lol

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