It amazes me how things can change so much within a week. From looking like utter trash vs. Tunisia and Ghana the exact same lineup managed to look much much much better vs. Russia, albeit neither team really went for the win. But now we’re back to normal – solid play without the finishing. And if that aspect of our game doesn’t improve we will have a difficult time vs. Algeria.
Carryover from the Russia game:
We played very defensively and conservatively, with deep fullbacks, and even deeper midfielders. Moreover, our defense wasn’t troubled because the Russian offense wasn’t the most talented, and only in the end did they give it their all. However, Algeria will provide a tougher opponent because they have fast, skilled, technical attackers (which will certainly trouble Hong Jeong-Ho and Kim Young-Kwon more than Russia did) AND both teams cannot afford to play the conservative route. Unlike before, where the teams played to a draw, in this match the teams will most likely play to win it. Although I believe we can win this, I am far more wary of this match than the Russia match, which is why I wanted our team to WIN against Russia so badly.
I also advocated Koo dropping deeper, which he only did some of the time, but he was so improved it worked out. But again, veiled optimism here as Russia didn’t put up the best of fight.
Park Chu Young:
The experienced football fan, instead of simply focusing on the ball and the chances the team creates, takes into consideration the off-the-ball movements of the players as well as the overall organization and tactics of the squad as a whole.
I’ve heard a lot of complaining about Park Ju Young not being able to score, failing to muster a shot on target, and the most common complaint of all, being “invisible.” In fact, the only contribution most people will remember is him not latching onto Lee Chung Yong’s through pass. ’ll repeat myself again for the thousandth time – no player on the team has more intelligent off the ball movement, the ability to draw defenders away, and the link up play Park Ju Young has. In short, he makes the offense flow. Admittedly, he could’ve done better, could’ve contributed more, and should have found his own chances instead of constantly providing, but on numerous occasions he was the one providing space for our other attackers. Without him we would have run into roadblocks on multiple occasions.
I would give him a 7/10 – good but can do better. Certainly not useless / invisible.
As usual, expect no changes to the starting XI:
Koo will play high up while defending, will drop back a little in offense, Ki will play it out from the back but will try to go forward more than he did vs. Russia, and Han Kook-Young will be there to steal possession. Most likely the fullbacks will stay deeper again as well due to the risk of a fast break, but still attack more than they did vs. Russia as we really need those 3 points.
For me the best subs would be Lee Keun-Ho, Kim Shin-Wook and Ji Dong-Won. Lee Keun-Ho for the same impact he had vs. Russia, Kim Shin-Wook for the height and scoring a goal like Fellaini did, and Ji because he’s our next best offensive threat. Sorry Kim Bo-Kyung, you’re in bad form at the wrong time.
What kind of game can we expect from Korea? More conservative or more open? More pressing high up the pitch or deeper players? It’s very tricky to pick, and I’ll explain why in a bit.
The vast majority of people think “Algeria? Lol ez win” but underestimate them at your own peril because they have quite some talented players in their team. I’m sure the names Sofiane Feghouli and Faouzi Ghoulam are somewhat familiar, but hell, the rest of their squad isn’t half bad
Here is their starting XI vs. Belgium. I don’t think it’s going to change vs. us, unless Algeria want to go all in and go for a 4-3-3.
In general, Algeria seems to favor a 4-1-4-1 / 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3 at times. The team’s defensive tenacity and organization is impressive, as Belgium found it difficult to score against them until substitutes Fellaini and Mertens came on. Feghouli, the Valencia star, is incredibly dangerous on the Algerian right flank (Yun Suk-Young better be on his A game); Ghoulam makes excellent runs down the right; the defense is hard to break down; and Algeria will counter hard against a team that overcommits. This presents a slightly tricky situation. We desperately need a win here but we cannot commit too hard because Algeria’s firepower is not bad at all. Our strength is clearly in the midfield where we will almost certainly “control” the game, but with 10-11 men behind the ball we’re probably not going to score much. So in the end, Korea will most likely be more adventurous than they were vs. Russia and pack the offensive side, while keeping a certain amount of players back (perhaps 4-5 opposed to 6 vs. Russia) in order to counter any counterattacks.
The key, of course, with a team like Algeria, is to run behind the defense, particularly into the holes at the back an attacking fullback like Ghoulam makes, but with such firepower down each flank we’re going to have to sit back a bit too. Also, Algeria will certainly pin down their RB to deal with Son Heung Min, who each team seems to recognize as our best scoring chance and marks well (Lee Young Pyo has picked him as the key player this matchup as well). As we saw against Tunisia, who packed 3 men into the back (+ wingbacks for the 5 man defense), we have a hard time with teams like this. If we play like we did back then we’re destined to lose.
This is where a player like Park Ju Young is absolutely crucial. If we’re ever going to mount a successful attack, we’re either going to have to shoot on sight (but none of our players seem to want to do that) or have someone create space for Son Heung-Min / Lee Chung-Young / Koo Ja-Cheol to shoot, which is something Park contributes greatly to. This is also where Ki Sung Yong MUST be sure to track back, because when fast dribbly players are unleashed upon our defense… yeah let’s not go into that. And as usual, we really need to take our chances (SHM take note) because we won’t get very many most likely.
That being said, Algeria also desperately need a win to advance so they might be a little more proactive but knowing that we hold the midfield superiority, they will most likely sit back and look to counter us, also knowing that our defense frequently makes mistakes. However, HMB’s sides always look defensively compact at major tournaments, so who knows. Unfortunately, his sides are never high scoring either, which we really need right now.
My gut feeling tells me Korea will win by a 1 goal margin, but it will be a very difficult game. Algeria may be a bit more tricky than Russia – while people will say Russia is the better team Algeria are just as solid as a team with more standout individual players who can wreck havoc on a defense as fragile as ours. That being said, Belgium’s defense is as bad as ours and Algeria still couldn’t score from open play. I am still confident this game is winnable, but it will be hard. We have the quality to do it, and as long as Hong Jeong-Ho/Kim Young-Kwon don’t have a serious mental lapse we can take home the three points.
Questions before the match:
The other Tavern writers mulled over some questions surrounding team Korea before the start of Korea v Algeria.
1. Knowing that Korea MUST win to have a good chance at advancing, will we see a more attack-minded team against Algeria? I mean will the team sacrifice some of the increased defensive stability seen against Russia in an attempt to score?
Tim sez: Hong will, I think, set up a team to be wary of the counter-attack, but we should be more attacking than against Russia because there’s no way we’re winning with only 50% of the possession. We must win this game to have a good chance of progressing. There’s no way we’re playing for a draw like we sort of did against Russia. So yes and no. Not a huge difference, but we’ll sacrifice a little bit of the defensive-minded tactics to try to push for a goal, maybe more so in the second half.
Roy sez: Algeria will park the bus if Korea registers their signal to go all out in attack. I’d imagine coach Hong is positioning a more nuanced attack – it’s definitely going to be attack minded of course as opposed to the more cautious approach with Russia – but nuanced so as to draw out Algeria from their defensive shell – then Korea will try to go for the kill.
2. Both Koo Ja-Cheol and Park Chu-Young were better against Russia than in previous games, but still far from their best. Is there any chance either (or both) of them are benched for this one? If there is a chance they will be benched, who do you think will come in instead?
Tim sez: No. If they’re ineffective, they’ll be subbed off in the early second half. I expect to see an unchanged XI, because that’s Hong Myung-Bo.
Roy: They’ll start, unless Hong decides to go for the surprise factor – in that case, we might see Ji Dong-Won for Park Chu-Young.
1. The yellow cards that Son, Koo and Ki received are troubling. Is it wise for them, if Korea is ahead of Algeria (by say 2 goals) that they get yellow carded (hopefully a productive foul if Algeria is on the break) serve the suspension during Belgium to get it over with. A win against Algeria could be enough to advance them in the round of 16.