Tavern Podcast: Deciphering patterns in Korea’s scoreless World Cup tuneup result with Bolivia

Post game analysis of Korea’s scoreless draw with Bolivia – what does it all mean as Korea prepares for a tough group F in the 2018 World Cup?   What worked and what didn’t – and are there any patterns, any crumbs to decipher Shin Tae-Yong’s puzzling strategies before they face Senegal in a closed door friendly next week.  Join the Old Tavern Owner Roy Ghim as well as veteran Tavern contributor Jae Chee and new Tavern contributor Michael Welch as we deconstruct Thursday’s result and what it could mean for the Taeguk Warriors.

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  1. Thanks for adding to Apple Podcasts! Offline listening has been crucial, and I’m just so used to 1.5x speed now. Also, awesome cover art! Very cool.

    The ending to the pod has me optimistic. Really hope LSW does in fact inspire that next generation of players. To weigh in on a topic mentioned earlier in the podcast, I will defend Suk HJ until this WC ends! He (and also Ji DW) should’ve been given a chance on the 28 man roster! Still such a head scratcher. While he only scored once this calendar year, he still managed to net 6 goals in Ligue 1 this past season (on a goals scored per minutes played basis, he roughly equaled Kwon). There are some impressive highlights of him scoring off headers earlier in the season (if the argument to take Kim SW is because he’s tall, Suk is 6’3″ and can jump pretty high). I saw that some were mentioning his injury record, especially since he got hurt back in January. But he was fit enough to play at the end of the season for Troyes, though it wasn’t the best situation given their relegation battle. I still don’t understand it. He scored against Germany at the 2016 Olympics. He is faster and stronger than Kim SW, plays in a more competitive league, and can also get his head on the ball. Ok, time for me to let it go.

    I’m also glad to see Park JH’s inclusion back in the KNT fold. He left Dortmund at the right time, got playing time in the K League, and was able to prove himself. Certainly a model for others who try to ply their trade abroad but don’t get any playing time.

    • David, you can argue for Suk’s inclusion as long as you would like! I will allow it because I am right there with you! Let’s be hoping that Suk goes to the Asian Games in September!

      For Park Joo-ho, I thought he was very assured on the ball, hustled on the overlap and didn’t put a foot wrong. He’s gotta be our starting LB!

  2. Awesome podcast!
    I don’t know the details of the Son Heungmin-Jung Wooyoung scuffle. Didn’t see it live, but saw it the internet.
    My two cents- for any other country, I would say it’s a great thing. The big star criticizes you, you put it back in his face- it might make him and the team respect you more. I’m picturing Ronaldo with an unsung/unknown Portuguese player, Messi and some new guy from the Argentine domestic league, or Chicharito and some Mexican defender who’s never left his country. I think some fans would love to see that and the coaches could let the guys yell at each other and work it out.
    BUT…. with Korea, sadly, I think if we’re talking age/hierarchy, it’s easy for it to cause rifts. I’m picturing the older domestic players talking about how rude Son is behind his back. In my opinion, that’s so bad. Maybe Son is rude, but understand it’s because he’s trying to make you better. That’s a good thing, and it’s also a good thing to get pissed about it and want to show him that he’s wrong. But if it becomes this mental thing in the locker room, good lord….
    Also, if Lee Seungwoo passes it off to the Kim Shinwook because he’s older and had more caps, I’m gonna lose it. And if netizens say he’s selfish, guess what… some attacking players are better (and so is the team) when they’re selfish.
    Anyway, looking forward to the Senegal recap (whatever it may be- tiny bullet points perhaps) and then the SWEDEN PREVIEW!!!!!!!!!!! It’s coming!!

    • Then again, maybe the scuffle was indeed nothing and if it was minor the coaches easily handled it. If that’s it, I just wasted the last few minutes writing this haha

      • Yeah, I hope it was minor too, but I thought Jae made a good point about the social hierarchy in Korea and how it could play out on the KNT. For Lee SW, I think he’s still feeling out that balance of attacking instinct and unselfishness. But you’re so right, if he decides to give the ball to Kim SW to be unselfish I will scream.

        In terms of Senegal recap, we will give you any info we find! The KFA has already said they’ll keep the lineup and formation a secret. Shin TY really wants to get in Sweden’s head!

      • On instagram, there were pictures of Son and Jung Woo-young holding hands and laughing during practice after the game against Bolivia. It seems like it was all resolved. Son does seem like an emotional player though. I think he sometimes needs to keep it under control.

    • As Guus Hiddink stated in 2002, cultural seniority has no place in team sports, you put the 11 players on the field that you feel can give you the best chance for results. Cultural seniority might matter in an office environment, or university, but not in global team sports, facing elite competition. Hell no.

      I’m reminded of some of the criticisms from Korean keyboard warriors, who claimed Lee SW didn’t come across as Korean enough, which is sad almost the point of being comical. I’ll say this. If the KMNT is ever “Korean” enough again, they’ll be playing like those teams from 1986-98. In essence, playing a participatory role to fill out the WC and being eliminated after the 2nd group match.

  3. My thoughts:
    -You’re absolutely right about low expectations. These guys have a real test in front of them, and they can/should just give it everything they got. If they come up short, no big deal… build to the future. This experience will teach them so many things that they can carry with them through qualification and into 2022. No shame in not getting out of this group, as long as they play with pride and heart.
    -Having said all of the above, I’m not gonna be surprised if they do in fact make it out of the group. Why not? We do have the talent. I really feel that Korean fans overreacted at the draw… we have been in 8 consecutive World Cups, and so we got used to having some “weak” opposition in the group stage. This is the first time that the groups were made based entirely on FIFA ranking. Since we were in Pot 4 this time, we were gonna be up against tougher opposition no matter our group. BUT.. come on…Sweden from Pot 3 is one of the best picks we could have gotten. And from Pot 2, we could have gotten Spain, England, or Uruguay, former WC winners. Mexico is tough, but NOT unbeatable. They are notorious for underperforming. I won’t be surprised if the Mexican players think it’s smooth sailing after their first game against Germany. We can (tough, but CAN) get two wins in our first two games and be in the Round of 16 before we even have to play Germany.
    -Another point- it takes a true team effort to go far in a tournament, and definitely a great TEAM always wins the WC. We know our team has limitations. But in the group stage, having the best player on the field can really make a huge difference. Against Sweden and Mexico, the best player on the field is Son Heungmin. If he plays well, no reason we can’t make it out of the group (same reason Egypt can make it out of their group if Salah comes back).
    -Lee Seung Woo has really looked great so far. It’s amazing to me how much that youth academy molded him into what he is. His development skyrocketed compared to kids in Korea (kinda sad, but it’s obvious). If he scores, great. But if not, netizens gotta lay off him. I just hope he has a positive experience cuz he can be special.
    -If we get destroyed and get 0 points (also possible, but I hope not), I hope the KFA takes it as a wake-up call, finally gets its shit together, and they actually focus on building better young defenders, and maybe, just maybe, finding a world class goalkeeper.

    • Jon, I am feeling these points so much! I do think that this group is difficult but doable. We have to come together as a team and fight hard in those first 2 matches. You’re absolutely right, we will be underdogs but we have a superstar in Son and I hope we can show our quality.

      Lee SW has been so great. I love watching him play, it’s just incredible to see his technique with the ball. He just glides so easily on the pitch. I want him to score and maybe earn a transfer away from Serie B. But just the fact that he has made this squad is his hard work paying off!

      If we crash out, the KFA will have a lot of explaining to do and training world class defenders will be their first mission. In terms of GK though, we may have one already in Song Bum-keun. He’s going to the Asian Games and he’s going to be great, stay tuned for him!

    • I have a bit of a different take. In my opinion, it seems like “lesson learning, gaining experiences” can be really hit or miss. You could make a laundry list of all the lessons the KMNT were shown in 2014, not much seems to have been heeded in 4 years. Improving aerial defense, set piece defense, box defending, final third movement, GKing, the list goes on.

      Regarding the draw, I think the group is difficult, this is a consensus across the board by pundits/fans. Who knows, maybe the group won’t be as “difficult’ as others, we won’t know until the end of Group Stage play. But it sure looks like a tough group to me.

      It’s true that we could have drawn superior teams to Sweden/Mexico, but I don’t think that should be the primary talking point. In my opinion, the primary questions to ask are “What are our deficiencies/holes in our team versus our Strengths/Advantages”? No matter how strong our weak our opponents are in our group, there are too many holes in the team to credibly think that they belong in the final 16.

      Holes such as : Defending in the box, lack of defensive holding midfielders, Aerial Defending, Set Piece Defending, lack of true imagination/movement/creativity in the final 3rd, goalkeeping, transitional defense

      Strengths: Attacking in middle third. Sonny. Ki with distributional passing. Lee Seung Woo’s energy.

      To me, strengths do not nearly outweigh the holes, the formula is not setup for success.

      Yes, it takes a true team effort, but let me pose a question to you. What indication, in the past 12 months, suggests the KMNT play like a unified, 11 man unit? Or that they are consistently playing in all thirds of the pitch with equal consistency, game in, game out? They had a good performance against Colombia in a Nov 2017 friendly. I don’t believe 1 good result against a strong opponent in the past 10 or so friendlies is a good sign.

      As for Sonny, he will be marked and defended with rigour. It’s not going to be the same experience playing with all the good/great teammates he has at Spurs, having space to work with.

      Stranger things have happened I know. Mexico is going through a funny sex scandal (I think it’s pretty funny) and it’s too bad we aren’t playing them right off the bat. I don’t deny Korea will try their best, but it will be some kind of accomplishment if they can get to the R16.

      • You’re right on everything- no question. I really can’t argue against anything you’ve said. My post was basically just trying to be positive 😀
        Hope for the best, expect the worst. True, Korea does not belong in the final 16, but Costa Rica/Algeria didn’t really “belong” either in 2014. Let’s face it, at the World Cup some great teams unexpectedly suck. And every now and then a blind squirrel finds a nut.

        • Watching Costa Rica 4 years ago was at times, akin to watching paint dry. Especially their QF against Holland. Unfortunately for world football, their negative regressive tactics yielded some results. I would be lying to you if I hadn’t thought & wondered if the KMNT should adopt or attempt similar tactics. Of course a chill usually goes down my spine and I snap out of it, but the results…. 😐 😐

          • I would say that it’s kind of a loser approach. Results matter, but.. honestly, if we fall ass backwards into the round of 16 because we play boring football or because Sweden and Mexico just play terrible, I know the KFA will pat itself on the back, call it an amazing success, and then we won’t do anything to improve for the future. So… yeah, I hope that doesn’t happen. I’d rather we get our asses kicked so the KFA actually wakes up and does something.

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