October 21, 2012
South Koreans / Taeguk Warriors playing football in Europe weekend in review
Been quite a weekend and it had it all: excitement, Park Chu-Young at Real Madrid, Cha Du-Ri’s first start for Dusseldorf, nail biting, freaking out and beating the couch in frustration, and wins for some of the clubs featuring South Koreans — lets get to the highlights.
Fortuna Dusseldorf vs Bayern Munich
Cha Du-Ri had his first start for Fortuna and went the full 90 minutes; what a hell of a match to start in. Earlier in the week, he was experimentally placed as a forward and scored 4 goals in a test match with a lower tiered team. Perhaps Dusseldorf had dreams of his father, Cha Bum Kun, resurrected in his son and experimented with installing him as a midfielder [He’s been a right back for several years and hasn’t played as a forward or wing since his early days in Eintracht Frankfurt and Mainz from 2003-2007]. Bayern ran roughshod unFortuna, going 2-0 by halftime [WHEEET! Damn it, I’ve just been yellow carded. I’ve been warned by the refs not to mess with German team names]. Cha was back to to the backline by the start of the second half and Bayern mechanically dismantled Fortuna; Fortuna Dusseldorf 0 – Bayern Munich 5.
Swansea City vs Wigan
Ki Sung-Yeung went the full 90 minutes and Swansea defeated Wigan by a score of 2-1. Liberty stadium breathed a sigh of relief; with the win, Swansea put to bed a 5 game winless streak. Ki was his usual stalwart midfielder self, helping to keep Swansea in control, circulating the ball to all the right places, and getting in a few good shots on goal. An excellent chance for the Swans in the first half came after some good build up by Ki, Leon Britton and Wayne Routledge, leading up to an anti-climatic header over the crossbar by Michu. After receiving a neat reverse pass by Routledge, Ki’s strike in the 63rd minute nearly went in the bottom left corner, but denied with a quality save by Al Habsi. Suddenly there was a scoring blitz on: Pablo Hernandez scoring his first for the Swans in the 65th, Michu scoring his 6th only 2 minutes later, and then only 2 shakes of a lambs tail and another 2 minutes for Emmerson Boyce for Wigan to make the score 2-1. 20 more frenetic minutes later and the Swans get the victory. Swasea is now exactly midtable, 10th position in the EPL.
Nottingham vs Cardiff City
Kim Bo-Kyung was in the 18 man roster and didn’t play in Cardiff’s 3-1 away loss to Nottingham Forest. The sheriff of Nottingham and his lads spanked the Bluebirds and it was costly: their first place perch has been lost and they are now sitting in 2nd with Leicester City taking over as top dog in the N-Power Championship. Cardiff plays at home against Watford on Tuesday.
Bolton vs Bristol City
Lee Chung-Yong and Bolton earned a hard fought 3-2 win against Bristol City. It was Bolton’s first post-Owen Coyle game and the new caretaker-manager Jimmy Phillips was under duress at the start, his side being down 2-0 with a Steve Davies brace. Down but not out, Bolton clawed back admirably, and drew even by the time Lee was called into action in the 80th minute. Only 2 minutes in, Lee had immediate impact, stringing some passes to set up an eventual Martin Petrov game winner. Nice work by the Blue Dragon. Hopefully Lee will see even more action now that Bolton is under new management.
Real Madrid vs Celta Vigo
This is what Tavern goers and anybody who’s into Koreans playing football in Europe dream about – a Taeguk Warrior front and center playing head to head against the likes of Ronaldo, Ozil, Higuain, Modric, Alonso, Benzema and company. Celta Vigo and Park Chu-Young ventured to the belly of the Bernabeu and tangled with a injury depleted Real Madrid. Celta Vigo also were vying to be the first team to win 3 in a row at the Bernabeu (they won their last two here in 2005 and 2006 before returning to LaLiga this year following a 5 year stint in LaLigaB). Nevertheless, Celta seemed unnerved by the whole atmosphere and didn’t bring on the kind of A-game they displayed against Sevilla and Getafe. Things you don’t do when you play Real Madrid: at the top of that list is to play tentatively and like clockwork Real took advantage with waves upon waves of punishing attacks. The first half was target practice, and Celta Vigo was it. 10 minutes in, a Higuain strike from distance got a lucky deflection that entered the Celta net from an impossible angle. Otherwise, if Cristian Ronaldo not had an off day, any number of his 9 shots/headers would have also found the back of the net. Still, Celta Vigo were lucky to be down only 1-0 by the half. With some retooling of the lineup (Mario Bermejo subbing in the 53rd minute for Christian Bustos and Park Chu-Young coming in the 57th minute for Iago Aspas), the real Celta Vigo came back out roaring in the 2nd half to give Real Madrid some real trouble. No matter the score, there’s always something to enjoy when witnessing Jose Mourinho sweating it out. With the extra energy and the feeling they had nothing to lose, they got back to the entertaining and free flowing football that was a hallmark of their great wins so far in the season. Celta controlled possession for long stretches of the latter half and set up some good opportunities to score. But the ebb and flow of football ebbed against Celta, and a penalty kick was awarded in the 67th minute following a yellow carded challenge against Ozil by Gustavo Cabral (replays showed the challenge looked pretty tame). Ronaldo knocked in the PK and the 2-0 score looked insurmountable. Undaunted, Celta kept playing their game, stretching Real’s defense and forcing netminder Iker Castillas to put in some extra work. Park initially played nervously at first, getting dispossessed of the ball on his first touch. It’s not clear if he was instructed not to track back to help out with defense, but if he was free to do so, he mostly chose not to, poaching up front left . He gradually got into the game, helping move the ball around in Celta’s efforts to probe for any weakness in Real’s defense. Park’s pivotal moment in the match came in the 87th minute. A fantastic build up climaxed when Sergio Alvarez sent in an excellent cross in traffic to find Park Chu-Young racing towards goal. Park headed it down towards the bottom left post; a split second reaction from Iker Castillas somehow managed to bat it away. Park was left on the ground in agony at the thought of the goal that could have been. Game over, but at the end, Celta was able to hold their heads high. It was a loss on paper, but their 2nd half was something they could build on. For another take on the game, Santiago Perez has his match report on his blog Rainmaker18.com. UPDATE: Naver Sports based in Korea reports that Park injured his right leg adductor thigh muscles during the game. It may cast doubt on his availability for Celta’s next match, a derby against Deportivo on October 27th at the Balaidos.
Sunderland vs Newcastle
Ji Dong-Won not in the 18 man roster for Sunderlands 1-1 draw with 10 man Newcastle. Martin O’Neil’s side struggled to take advantage of 25th minute red card dismissal of Cheick Tiote. Sunderland are mired in the bottom half of the table with only 8 points to show for some middling performances. Despite being an impact player for the Olympic bronze winning Taeguk Warriors last summer, Ji has yet to see any minutes for the Blackcats this season.
QPR vs Everton
QPR seems to only do relatively well against the top Premiership teams despite their lowly status as the bottom-most dwelling team in the table. With only 2 points to their name coming into the match, captain Park Ji-Sung and QPR desperately needed points to merely begin the climb out of the basement. QPR were hungry and it showed; it took only 4 minutes for Junior Hoilett to find the back of the net, getting a weird deflection to send Tim Howard in the wrong direction. Park had a quieter 1st half, but had injected himself more forcefully in the 2nd, nearly scoring with a dead-on-target shot in front of the net; Everton’s Jagielka threw his whole body in the nick of time in front of Park and just barely blocked his shot from going in. Jagielka got injured in the process, and eventually got substituted off. QPR had stretches of dominance and looked incredibly dangerous throughout the match. Their notoriously leaky defense undid all the good offensive work they were building, and an unmarked Sylvain Distin headed in a Pienaar set piece toward the bottom left post. Adding insult to injury, Julio Cesar uncharacteristically mishandled the rebound off the post, and it bounced off his side and into the net for an own goal. Fortune smiled on Loftus Road when a 2nd yellow card sent off Pienaar (for what appeared to be minimal contact on Bosingwa) in the 61st minute – however we are talking about this year’s edition of QPR, and the ghost of Joey Barton has yet to let go of the club. QPR would not find the game winner and the tie effectively felt much like a loss for the club and to the QPR loyalists in attendance. QPR 1 – Everton 1.
Hamburg vs Stuttgart
Son Heung-Min and Hamburg was looking to continue their 4 match unbeaten streak, but Vedad Ibisevic crashed the Hamburg net and scored the only goal in the match. Son had his moments, looking pernicious with some nervy quickness around the Stuttgart penalty area and getting in 3 solid shots on goal. Rafael Van der Vaart, who had an impactless 1st half, came alive in the 2nd and sent some powerful shots Stuttgarts’ way. Netminder Ulreich kept Stuttgart in the game however, blocking several shots from Van der Vaart, Son and Jansen that could’ve opened up the game for Hamburg. Instead, Ulreich kept a clean sheet and frustrated Hamburg’s ambition; had Hamburg won, they would’ve leapfrogged over Borussia Dortmund and assumed 4th position in the Bundesliga table. They now have to settle for 10th place for the time being.
FC Basel 0 – Lucerne 1
Left back Park Joo-Ho was not featured in FC Basel’s loss to Lucerne. It’s the swiss club’s first under new manager Murat Yakin. Heiko Vogel was fired on October 15th after a poor start to the season.
Vancouver Whitecaps 0 – Portland 1
Despite the loss, Lee Young-Pyo and Vancouver made some history with a little help from Seattle. Thanks to Seattle’s 3-1 drubbing of FC Dallas, Vancouver becomes the first Canadian team to reach the MLS playoffs. With the 5th and last playoff spot secured, they will now face the LA Galaxy in a one game knockout round of the Western Conference on either October 31 or November 1st at the Home Depot Center. As for Lee, he has a lifetime of great football memories, particularly from his association with the 2002 World Cup Red Devils team, and he got another accolade on Sunday: before the match he was voted as Vancouver’s 2012 Player of the Year. Here’s an excerpt from their press release: “Prior to today’s match, the 35-year-old has made a team-high 31 appearances and amassed 2,790 minutes of action this season.” You can read the rest of the press report here.
That’s it for the weekend in review. Midweek games to look out for: On Tuesday, Cardiff is at home against Watford and Bolton plays away at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Both matches start at 2:45 pm EST.
Also on Wednesday, it’s the 1st leg of the Asian Champions League semifinals featuring Ulsan Hyundai at Bunyodkor in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. That starts at 9 am EST/10 pm Korea time. FC Basel might include Park Joo-Ho in their Europa League encounter with Videoton FC Fehervar on Thursday 1 pm EST.
Lastly, the Tavern had reported the possibility of this match up a few weeks ago and now it’s confirmed: South Korea friendly with Australia will be in South Korea on November 14. Taeguk Warriors in full effect -brotha!
I leave you with this: I usually don’t try to dictate the course of my dreams, but I will try tonight: both Koo Ja-Cheol (who may come back from ankle injury) scoring a brace for Augsburg AND Heung Min-Son netting a brace as well for Hamburg — the score eventually ends in a conciliatory 2-2 draw next friday. That’s my dream and with that I bid you goodnight.