Yet a third Tavern author asks the question: so what did we learn from these recent friendlies? Here’s a slightly different take:
It seems that we’ve learned nothing from these friendlies, which we can agree were pretty much a waste of time. We’re playing friendlies when no other team is, and the only result was utter embarrassment. But there were still a couple takeaways here. First, the obvious: we have no depth period. Shameful displays all around. We also learned that HMB is no magician – more adept than previous managers, but not the perfect solution we wanted. I’m sure, however, that if we give him time he will slowly get the hang of things. And like his predecessors, HMB falls prey to favoritism as well, evidenced by his constant calling up of the consistently disappointing Go Yo Han and Kim Min Woo.
On the bright side at least, with our international reputation going down into the gutters, Algeria and Russia will not be as likely to turtle and frustrate us, and will play an open, attacking game. Algeria and Russia are teams known for a compact defense, and we always seem to struggle against the turtling teams. But if they play more openly, this should allow us to seize the game a little better and create more chances. The risk here, of course, is that they might be even more eager to secure a win against us, but underestimation is always a good thing. Belgium already thoroughly underestimates us. News broke out that Wilmots already considers us the weakest of the Group H teams. He’s likely to rest his top stars (Hazard…) against us if Belgium win their first two games, so we have a somewhat realistic chance of saying “screw you” and claiming the #1 spot in Group H. Although if you really think about it, a Belgium B team still has enough talent, on paper at least, to defeat us.
More importantly, I now have a very confident guess as to who will make the WC and who will make the 베스트11. I am now 95% positive that we will see this starting XI when the WC rolls around. And hopefully we will see a similar lineup during the qualification phase and the 2015 AC. A team devoid of LDG, KTH, revolving doors, and other nightmares we’ve experienced during the Dark Ages of 2011 – 2014.
The squad will pretty much look like this:
- Jung Sung Ryong (GK)
- Lee Yong (DF)
- Park Joo Ho (DF)
- Kim Young Kwon (DF)
- Jang Hyun Soo (DF)
- Han Kook Young (CM)
- Son Heung Min (AM)
- Koo Ja Cheol (AM)
- Ji Dong Won (FW)
- Park Ju Young (FW)
- Lee Keun Ho (AM) (possibly an extra CM or Lee Seung Gi if he continues on his run of crappy finishing and anxiety-filled performances. He’s clearly desperate to impress and not miss out on another WC)
- Kim Jin Su (DF)
- Kim Bo Kyung (AM)
- Park Jong Woo (Or Ha Dae Sung/Lee Myung Joo? I say PJW due to him outperforming LMJ; not saying much since both played terribly) (CM)
- Hwang Seok Ho (DF)
- Ki Sung Yong (CM)
- Lee Chung Yong (AM)
- Kim Shin Wook (FW)
- Nam Tae Hee (AM)
- Hong Jeong Ho (DF)
- Kim Seung Gyu (GK)
- Kim Chang Soo (DF)
- Lee Bum Young (GK)
And the starting XI is almost certain to be:
Park Ju Young
Son Heung Min Koo Ja Cheol Lee Chung Yong
Han Kook Young Ki Sung Yong
Kim Jin Su Kim Young Kwon Hong Jeong Ho Lee Yong
Jung / Kim
The only real points of contention here are the striker, the CAM, the goalkeeper, and tactical concerns. It seems that Kim Jin Su and Lee Yong, with solid displays since the EAFF Cup, have locked in as our starting fullbacks. The most impressive left back display since Lee Young Pyo retired was Yoon Suk Young during the Olympics, but since he is still caught in the black hole that is QPR… look forward to the will-be 22 year old Kim Jin Su whipping in crosses and hopefully bagging some assists.
We’re probably best off sticking to our 4-2-3-1. Jae recently mentioned playing a counterattacking 4-3-3 by sacrificing KJC / KBK:
Son Heung Min — Park Ju Young — Lee Chung Yong
Han Kook Young — Ki Sung Yong — Park Jong Woo
… with same back four and GK’s. I honestly think this is a great idea in certain situations. We have two great #10’s but sometimes this could be the better option. Case in point? Jose Mourinho’s tactics vs. Man City by playing a central midfield of Ramires – Luiz – Matic and sacrificing Oscar. Perhaps against a team like Belguim we could pull this off, but remember that 1). HMB is not Jose Mourinho and the only time I’ve seen him NOT play a 4-2-3-1 is during Olympic Qualifiying and against Brazil, opting for a 4-4-2 instead, and 2). Han Kook Young and Park Jong Woo are not Luiz and Matic. And if Park Jong Woo / Lee Myung Joo / Ha Dae Sung are out of form (aka recent friendlies) this would never work. Jang Hyun Soo next to Han and Ki just sounds like an awful idea.
At the same time, a Barca-esque 4-3-3 sounds appealing at first too. I advocated this formation just last year because you can draw so many parallels. We play a high line of defense. We like to press hard and keep possession. Koo plays like Iniesta (the advanced, quasi-#10 dribbler with shooting ability); Ki plays like Xavi (the orchestrator); and Han Kook Young plays like Busquets – not nearly as good but about as good slide tackling ability. We even have a withdrawn striker in Park Ju Young, a goalscoring inverted winger in SHM and a classic winger in Lee Chung Yong. To a lesser extent, even our full backs like to get forward all the time (and get caught out at times). However, I have a gut feeling that this formation might not work because our defense is even more frail than that of Barcelona’s – if we get caught out of possession, something Barcelona doesn’t do as often as we do – we’d be burned pretty quickly.
HMB has also tried 4-4-2’s pretty often, but honestly, it’s best to stick with our good ol’ 4-2-3-1.
General Tactics: As all of us have noticed by now, Hong Myung Bo’s system relies on pressing, and we’re pretty darn good at it. Well.. for the first 30 minutes that is. We’ve watched far too many games where we start brightly and overwhelm the opponent but run out of gas in the second half. Watch the Olympic match vs. Brazil for the most striking example, but this happens nearly every game. Could it be a case of overexcitement? It also doesn’t help that WE HAVE NO DEPTH. The only sub with a realistic chance of starting is Kim Bo Kyung; hell, many argue convincingly that Kim Bo Kyung should just START in the first place, either as the 10 or the LW. From a tactical standpoint, placing the more defensively solid / harder working KBK in place of Son Heung Min can be favorable. He’s a more-than-reliable backup for Koo just in case of injury: more creative, but not as agile and lacking Koo’s killer shooting ability. Then there’s Park Jong Woo and Lee Myung Joo to support Ki Sung Yong and Han Kook Young, both of whom impressed occasionally but disappointed more often than not. The other subs, particularly offensive subs – Lee Seung Gi, Yoon Il Rok, Go Yo Han – have been largely disappointing as well.
I also believe that our team must counterattack with more efficiency, and use our most potent weapon – our wingers – to full advantage. 손흥민 and 이청용 must not defend so deep. Furthermore, Son’s name is gradually becoming more and more famous; when a foreign player tries to name a Korean player, the first name mentioned always seems to be Son Heung Min. Defenders will most likely pay heavy attention to him, potentially making him less effective from open play. However, this will undoubtedly open up space for Koo, Ki, PJY, and Lee to exploit. On the other hand, nobody knows about Lee Chung Yong. Foreigners see a man playing for the second division in England, not realizing he is in fact (arguably) our best player.
Now that PJY has officially transferred, he will likely start up top. THANK GOODNESS! Once the best striker in Asia, Arsene Wenger ruined his career for reasons unknown.
Look at that finishing! No other player on the NT, except maybe Son, can finish like that or create chances like Park Ju Young does. Certainly no one can score headers like he can – not even Wookie – and his leap is almost Cristiano Ronaldo esque. We need him fit as quickly as possible. If I were HMB I would start PJY in every single one of the upcoming friendlies.
The alternative must be Ji Dong Won. He doesn’t offer much pace and doesn’t create chances on his own like Park Ju Young does. However, he finishes pretty well and links up well too, meaning our best chance to score goals, aside from our typical Son Heung Min / Koo Ja Cheol / Ki Sung Yong cannons, will be Lee Chung Yong or Son Heung Min assisted 지동원 goals / headers
Overall Evaluation of the SXI: Most of our players will be starting on a weekly basis. Son Heung Min, Lee Chung Yong, Ki Sung Yong, Koo Ja Cheol, Ji Dong Won, and Han Kook Young – basically our entire offensive lineup – have little worries with playing time. Park Ju Young also, in theory, should have no worries. If anything, we should be worried about Ki burning out – he has not missed a single minute of Premier League action since Poyet’s second game in charge, and the trend will surely continue. Han has also not missed a single minute of J League action with Shonan Bellmare the past season, but now that he’s moved to Kashiwa this might change. (Aside: the way Poyet built the whole team around Ki is freaking awesome). Hopefully, they can get a good rest before the WC comes around.
Goalkeeper? The final three is almost certainly going to be Jung Sung Ryong, Kim Seung Gyu, and Lee Bum Young. Who will start? It’s a complete tossup between Silverback and Kim, depending on who’s in-form at the moment. And with both of them with poor performances against the CONCAF teams, who knows what will happen?
When we finally get our NT straightened out my greatest hope is that this team will be able to gel together and play together far more often. I would love to see a stable starting XI from now until 2018. And aside from Park Ju Young who will be 32 and Lee Yong who will be 31 when 2018 rolls around, the entire team will stay the same. But who knows? We have fullbacks in random overseas youth teams, and Lee Seung Woo / Jang Gyeol Hee will be 19; Baek will be 20 and Lee Kang In will be 17.
One thing’s for sure: good times lie ahead.