The Tavern’s Official World Cup Series: Korea-Algeria Preview [updated]

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.

Jae’s questions:

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.


Roy’s questions

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.

Tim sez: I don’t think they’re going to do that unless it’s the 90th minute and Belgium have completely annihilated Russia. I really don’t think that’s happening. I can’t imagine Hong asking someone to get carded.
2. What is Hong is telling the team strategically to break Algeria’s stingy defense? Belgium had trouble with them in their group encounter.
Roy sez: did I answer my own question in my response to Jae? Lol!
Tim’s questions
1) How did Park Ju-Young do against Russia?
Roy sez: better than what some in the media would say (see my post game post). I would largely agreee with Jinseok in this post that Park’s contributions were not regarded properly – he contributed to the offensive fluidity – and I would add perhaps that’s the approach Hong instructed Park to do against Russia- find Son – give him the shot. Hong may be telling Park something completely different today.
2) Do you expect Hong to make any changes from his starting XI against Russia? (I don’t think so.)
Roy sez: no unless Hong opts for the 4-1-4-1  -which in that case we could see Ji or Kimbo added to the mix.
Tavern goers: do you have any thing you’d like to add with these questions?
Meanwhile, outside the Tavern, Noonchi posted this Analyzing Algeria, getting ESPN.FC contributor Maher Mezahi in scouting team Algeria, their biggest threats and weakest link.
Also Noonchi put together this nice video production for supporters to get psyched for the Taeguk Warriors in Brazil. Dae Han Min Guk! 
About Jinseok 259 Articles
Diehard Korean football fan.


  1. K, tight defense like b4, but w/ a bit more offensive fluidity/punch; I’ll take it! Those shots Son fluffed, he hits square now, no more jitters, this I pray…

    Tomorrow can’t get here soon enuff X/ & US vs Portugal, my freakin head’s spinning! What chance do u guys give the US?

    • Question is, how do you get the added offensive fludity/punch without sacrificing on the defensive side?

      US has a good chance. Ronaldo looked fit, but not completely on form. Pepe and Coentrao are definitely out, and reports today said that Bruno Alves may miss through injury as well. US should look to copy a page from Germany’s book. Isolate Ronaldo (don’t give him space + deny him ball) and tightly man-mark Joao Mountinho so he can play those passes.

      • How to improve offense w/out compromising defense? R u asking, or is it rhetorical? Cuz if the 1st, beats the heck outta me, I’m still kinda new to this! XD If the 2nd, I’d luv to hear whatever conclusions u drew

        Actually, wait. My amateur, armchair take? Nerves get steadied (read: Son), that’s a goal or 2 right there. & if every1 else is more settled too, then mebbe that increases fluidity; better, more confident linkup/movement. AND defense doesn’t necessarily have to suffer. So, its mostly a head case thing. Voila! My noob take on things 😉

        & ofc there’s tactical stuff that can b improved, but I’ll Absolutely leave that 2 the vets here.

        & thx 4 the quick US/portugal analysis, Jae, comforting 2 hear the US has a real chance, really looking 4ward 2 that match too.

        대한민국 화팅!! U-S-A, U-S-A!!

          • Lol, I was mostly joking. The guys just need to settle down, let their natural abilities shine/get outta their own way. Only they can set themselves free…ooooh, deep O.O

  2. Jinseok, I agree with you on the underestimation of Algeria many seem to be making. Part of it is that the UEFA gets too much credit, even if it’s understandable as to why. PJY will be crucial as you say, but your assessment is still off on PJY in the first game. An experienced soccer fan also knows that the role of a forward, particularly in a 1 top formation is to find opportunities to shoot. I fully gave him credit for his off the ball movement, but he needs to be able to take even one shot. However, that’s not even the main thing for me. The fact is, he DID become invisible. That’s why he was taken off. All the wonderful off the ball movement and creating space for other players happened early in the first half. by the close of that half, he didn’t create much of anything even with his off the ball movement and virtually nothing in the second half. I don’t get silly into thinking pjy was worthless, but I think it’s also silly to suggest that he did not fade and become invisible and was highly disappointing in the end. I’m still pulling for him though, as I don’t see any of the other forwards having nearly the capabilities that he does in terms of scoring. I’m hoping he shows up with his talent like Ahn Jung Hwan did in 2002, even if their careers were pretty disappointing.

  3. Pretty confident of a more open game tomorrow. There really isn’t much choice.

    HK Yong needs to try and provide more in offense. I know he’s there as a stopper and to play safe ball but we really need some more creativity out of the midfield. There will be open space tomorrow. Hopefully its exploited.

  4. My god Ghana….granted they were firing on all cylinders, a team possessed with complete confidence in the 2nd half but that team is friggen insanely good. Some of those possession sequences moving up the pitch were just gorgeous. Probably one of the best games Ive ever seen. Pity it had to end in a draw. I hate draws.

  5. I’m wary of Algeria’s manager flat out stating that korea is better. And basically admitting defeat. The resignation is unusual and seems like a ploy. How is everyone else taking those comments?

      • Although….here’s whats kinda funny. I have a friend who goes to Algeria often because of work of all things. He tells me that for some reason he remembers most about Algeria is how much much they like Koreans. He’s a world traveler pretty much and this is one of a few countries he says this about. Not that we arent liked much elsewhere but he really feels it when he goes to Algeria. Turkeys another place.

        Take w grain of salt.

  6. Koo looks like a child out there. Han KY…..offensive liability, not much on D either. Ki has no one to support him. PCY is MIA again. Lee CY has been neutralized.

    Son is the only one out there trying to make a difference it seems. He’s allover the place. Loving his effort.

    2 goals were Jungs fault. Hong was absolutely at fault going with this turd of a GK

    • no. 2 goals were jung’s fault but one was AFTER the defense completely did nothing but watch and the other, the header, was equally the defense’s fault for not even being remotely near the ball. the defense already did nothing to prevent them getting a clear shot at the goal.

    • Defense is not putting pressure on ball and are merely running at the ball and not keeping positioning. Offense takes too long to make decisions. Worst fears all come alive

  7. defense is crap, but it’s really being lost in the midfield, not so much the korean midfield being as terrible but the algerian midfield dominating, and the flanks just giving up the ball like it’s free cake. jung not playing his best and as i’ve said consistently, he’s STILL the last person to be upset at. too many in front of him messing up first. but that header that jung went up for was pretty darn horrendous.

    • that goal is going to have an impact on his time with the NT. he was soooooo off on his judgement there you really can’t help question him.

  8. Not a fan of Hong’s conservative ideals. He’s partly to blame for whats happening out there. We have been playing in fear for the last 3 months and I can handle it.

      • We have so many offensive liabilities out there. Guys who touch the ball and immediately cough it back up.

        HKY, LY, KOO, Yun……

        worst team we’ve had in a while

  9. Just b4 the match, read a preview that said when a team goes into a frenzy, Korea just panics, has no idea what to do. Felt a chill, felt its truth cuz of stuff I’d seen b4, but tried to dismiss it.

    Now, we know every team the world over has its blueprint for crushing Korea’s current crop: Go Nuts. U have nuthin to fear, Korea won’t know how to respond or take the battle to u in counter, they’ll just b in panic mode. Chickens w/ their heads cut off.

    Go on, SK, prove me wrong in the 2nd, PLEASE I beg u…

    • As absolutely fucked we were at halftime we held on and ultimately out scored them in the second half, probably could have drawn if luck was on our side. Second half was actually a korea I didn’t mind watching minus the defence.
      Wookie is by far the way to go, completely controlled our attack, he just needs to know where the fuck he’s heading the ball.
      Good to see Son care so much, being so passionate that he couldn’t connect to the cross and frustrated with himself.
      Not really disappointed considering I thought we were going to lose, but still amazed by how childish the centre backs play. Get a new right back, cha would have been such a better fit than lee yong, mind you, this team is young enough to go into the next two world cups easily. Positives!

  10. The good news is that if we beat Belgium, we are in!


    the long balls to wookie were actually working and a much better game plan that trying to attack from the wings all the time. prob won’t work against Belgium but it was still nice to see.

    Son MOTM easily. much respect to that guy for never giving up. he was everywhere today.

    • K, Russia beats Algeria by 1 goal, Korea beats Belgium by 2, we’re in. I know, “lol”, but wherever there’s hope, I’ll cling 2 it.

      Korea takes what they learned & did in 2nd half here, carry it over into Belgium, & who knows.

      May that 1st half burn in their hearts forever, haunting their every waking moment & most of their dreams. The lessons of that 45 min. of failure must b learned }:(

      • Lots of inexperience led to this campaign. It wouldve helped if he had brought Cha I think at least. No idea what Hong was thinking with his olympic team.

          • keeper was definitely not great. even though i can’t blame him for 3 of them, you would think he could get even lucky on a couple of them! thoroughly mediocre. one of these days we will have a good goalie come through the ranks… right? right? please?

  11. That DAMN 1st half! Screwed everything up. What a 2nd tho, it’s like Korea finally realized what’s required of them on the freakin intl. level. Which brings us back to that DAMN 1st half!

  12. Son is amazing. And I actually thought yun was pretty good. Lee yong was the one the made me rip my hair. Not yun. Anyways, what an effort by the subs and son. Can feel his passion. He will be so great when he ages and gains more experience.

    • Like, people could have seen that as very immature but it made me realise how passionate he is to play for korea, (whereas Park chuyoung looks like he’s just cruising and doesn’t give a shit)

  13. i think it’s fair to say that pjy played like crap. i don’t think it’s fair to say he doesn’t care. i think he looks beat and without confidence, for whatever reason. but that’s not an excuse.

    anyway, people are going a little silly about ksw’s play. he didn’t do much, though he did more than pjy. missed targets on headers can’t really be attributed too much to ksw, since most of those were received towards the edge of the box. you can’t put much power or accuracy on those.

    the flanks were really, really bad. i have to say the full backs were bad, but especially lee yong. ysy wasn’t great, but lee yong actually did play panicky all day. and even lcy was not up to snuff today. they all seemed to cough the ball up like crazy, and algeria’s midfield killed us for it. the centerbacks of course were probably the worst we’ve seen them in a long time, and that’s saying a lot. kyg was thoroughly unimpressive and, if i recall, he was really should have been called for foul and given up a penalty to algeria.

    all in all algeria deserved the win. son heung min was great, though he can use some improvement as well. ksy was decent, but, frankly, he was taken out of the game a lot, especially in the first half, because the flanks kept losing the ball instead of letting ki sort of take charge and distribute. i’m not optimistic, but i would like to see korea show something against belgium. my gut feeling is that algeria will advance. watching the last couple matches, though, i’m still disappointed that park ji sung took him out of the selection process. it’s games like these that really show that the leadership and tenacity of pjs is completely missing currently. i know it’s too early to call it in just yet, but regardless of the belgium game, i’m looking forward to 4 years now and see if perhaps we have upgraded to a silver generation with the youngsters coming up.

    as a side thought, i would love to see the world cup be extended one more week and add 8 nations to make each group stage a 5 team group. you would just add one extra match and week and it would be 4 matches in the group stages.
    i would add 2 euro, 1 oceania, 2 african, 1 asian, 1 concacaf, 1 conmebol

    • Its hard to write in this forum while keeping track of others comments so the only thing Id like to add to above is playing an ultra conservative match on your back heel (like we saw in the 1st half) is asking for big problems when the opposing team is destroying your midfield or playing with a high press.

      We came out and played much better direct ball in the 2nd half and that was the key. Wookie might not have done much against this shorter team but he was knocking down quite a few playable balls. He did well today but there have been other times like this where he’s been totally ineffective. The PCY experiment is NOT working thats all I know for sure.

      Ji DW needs to be out there as well. Just for offense alone. He should’ve been out there in the 1st half.

    • Coulda been a lot LOT worse. Also coulda easily been 3-3. I was feeling soo down after that 1st half, but w/ the vast improvement in the 2nd, I’m actually not feeling horrible. Loss is bad is obvious, but I’m actually seeing positives.

      That leadership/grit question u pose: I dunno if Son will really step up, if its in his makeup (& if his age will keep others from listening), but his passion, his Anger even… Very nice 2 c. He was the 1 w/ WILL.

      I actually hadn’t seen this b4; he was just the wunderkind, free & full of joy. I don’t ever want him to lose that boyish joy, but now he might also b developing the gravitas of a man. This bodes well 4 the future

      • He was possessed with PJS’s spirit today. That did give me a bit of hope for the team and him. I really wanted this tourney to help boost the stock of our players playing internationally.

        Son appears to be the only one walking aways with anything good here. Hope we have a miracle against Belgium. They will probably park the bus in some ways.

  14. Vahid Halilhodzic, Algeria coach
    I would like to dedicate this victory to the fans who were here and the Algerian people back home who have waited a long time for this victory. It means a lot to us all.Today the team played to its strengths. I told the players to keep it tight for the first 15 minutes and I felt that did extremely well and effectively in the first half – it was almost perfect. We slowed a little during the second half, why I’m not sure. Now we have to try to get a good result against Russia and qualify for the Round of 16. Anything is possible.

    Hong Myungbo, Korea Republic coach
    The result speaks for itself. We made mistakes in our preparation and during the match, but we need to look ahead now. There were lapses in concentration, particularly in defensive areas and we didn’t play to our usual standard. But I must stress, we did not underestimate Algeria. Today their team was completely different than the one that played against Belgium. They played much better today and deserved the win. Now we just need to move on now. We will do our best until the end.

          • i don’t know. you can’t really fault hong too badly for basically saying they prepared for the team that played against belgium and pretty much many other teams for the last 8 years. even the commentators were shocked at how aggressive and direct algeria decided to play and the espn guys as well as myself wondered why they didn’t try to play this way against belgium. i always wondered why they didn’t when i looked at their lineup and the speed and skill they have in midfield, which everyone had recognized. i have doubts that russia can beat algeria let alone korea win by 2 or more goals. i really hope though that if korea ends up not having a shot that it’s algeria that advances over russia. they deserve it.

  15. Algeria defeated s.Korea with 4 goal :p lol
    it was a hard and very nice match
    Respect to Korea we love u 🙂

    Vive Algeria <3

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