First off, a small apology is in order. I had written in the preview that I would watch the Bolton – Brighton & Hove Albion match to analyze Lee Chung-Yong. Unfortunately, when match kick-off rolled around, I was not able to find a working stream, so I was not able to watch that match.
That being said, I suppose I should issue a disclaimer for the future. Living in Korea does make it slightly harder to watch matches in Europe. Most come on middle of the night (midnight to maybe 3-4AM). Korean TV channels do not often cover smaller teams, even if there is a Korean on them, choosing instead to cover the major leagues and teams (Barca, United, Madrid, etc), plus I don’t own a TV. All matches I view are done online through live streams. Usually it is not a problem, but this time it was. While I will always attempt to watch the matches I say I will, just beware it may not always work out for some reason or another. I thank you for your understanding.
Instead of bringing you a Lee Chung-Yong analysis, I will do a mini-review of this week’s big K League Classic match, Jeonbuk Motors vs Ulsan Hyundai. Plus, Park Chu-Young did make a cameo appearance against Real Madrid, so there is also a short analysis for his 10 minute performance.
Jeonbuk Motors vs Ulsan Hyundai: Match Day 2 – K League Classic
Both Jeonbuk and Ulsan are expected to do well this season. Both had won their opening matches. For Jeonbuk there was Lee Dong-Gook, Jung In-Hwan, and Park Won-Jae. For Ulsan there was Kim Shin-Wook and Kim Young-Gwang. To be honest, I didn’t know which side Park Won-Jae played on when I wrote the call ups review, but I noticed, slightly disappointingly, that he was being played on the left, which would leave, just Kim Chang-Soo and Oh Beom-Seok as the right back options (unless Choi opts to play one of the left backs out of position). Both Lee Dong-Gook and Kim Shin-Wook led their respective lines. Jung In-Hwan played on the left side of center defense, and Kim Young-Gwang was, of course, in goal. This match was a physical, bruising match that left three players bloodied. In some ways that is good, as against the smaller teams we’ll face in qualification, I’d expect a similar physical encounter. Since there were so many players for this match I’ll do a player rating and a few sentences about each player.
P.S. On a completely separate note, how can the Jeonbuk goalkeeper, Choi Eun-Sung, wear the number 500? Doesn’t FIFA have rules about shirt numbers being 1-99?
Lee Dong-Gook: I’m not sure if there’s a player in the pool that divides opinion as much as Lee Dong-Gook. For Jeonbuk fans he seems to have hero/legend status, but for the rest of us, he’s a massive flop. I am curious, if there are any Jeonbuk fans reading this, what you all think of Lee Dong-Gook for the national team. Anyway, as far as this match went, Lee Dong-Gook did acceptably well. He didn’t score, but showed a few nice touches to play in others when Jeonbuk came forward. That being said he was a bit whiny at times. I didn’t like when he seemed to be complaining to the referee to send off an Ulsan player when a yellow card (which was given) was the correct decision. Lee Dong-Gook was dangerous when he picked up the ball in front of the penalty area, but was less threatening when pushed wide. He didn’t do much to pressure the defenders, and looked lazy at times.
For the most part, Lee Dong-Gook fit his billing. He can produce a few moments of brilliance, but largely leaves a bit to be desired. He is a natural predator around the box, but in today’s footballing world that isn’t always enough. When a system is built around him, as largely is the case at Jeonbuk, he can thrive. But with the national team one wonders if he can be effective in a more free-flowing team. 6.0
Jung In-Hwan: A quiet game for him. Which is good, I suppose. He only made one mistake that I can recall. Letting a man go, trying to play the offside trap, but failing to time it correctly. Fortunately for Jung In-Hwan the shot was off target. One of Jung In-Hwan’s strengths is supposedly his aerial ability, but Kim Shin-Wook seemed to get the best of him (and Jung’s centerback partner Im Yoo-Hwan) in most aerial challenges. Despite not making many mistakes other than the aforementioned one, he didn’t really inspire confidence defensively.
I’ll admit to a bit of a bias against Jung In-Hwan. He didn’t make a terribly strong impression on me when I first saw him against Australia. As such, I’m waiting for him to put in a solid performance to convince me that he’s worth starting for the national team. This game was a step in the right direction, but there were still moments of concern. 5.5
Park Won-Jae: Similar to Jung-In Hwan, Park Won-Jae had a quiet game. He didn’t seem to offer a whole lot going forward, and got beaten a few times defensively. Towards the end of the first half a couple dangerous crosses came in from his side, and Jeonbuk was fortunate that Kim Shin-Wook wasn’t more clinical.
As far as being a fullback goes, I wasn’t terribly impressed with Park Won-Jae. I don’t remember him helping out too much on offense, and there were the aforementioned holes in defense. I get the feeling that he will start the match against Qatar unless Yoon Suk-Young starts playing for QPR, and makes me slightly concerned. 5.5
Kim Shin-Wook: An interesting player that I haven’t honestly watched much. Kim Shin-Wook does use his height well, and fairly dominated the aerial battles against the Jeonbuk centerbacks. Yet, his ability to finish with his head left a bit to be desired, and I can’t recall him creating anything (or shooting) with his feet, which is odd for a central striker. Kim Shin-Wook is young though, and could become a very useful player for the NT if he manages to develop a bit more. An interesting aspect of his current game that I noticed is that he tends to drop quite deep when Ulsan attacks. Often he allows the wide forwards and attacking midfielder to go past him, and then he slowly joins from deep.
Despite giving him an average score, I was impressed with some aspects of Kim Shin-Wook’s game, and I was able to see why he continues to be called up. He does use his height well, and could pose major problems for defenders. Not many teams have physical centerbacks that can really challenge in the air, particularly in Asia. So Kim Shin-Wook could be quite valuable. That being said, he needs to improve his link up play. As a traditional number 9, he needs to be able to spread the play, and then quickly get back into a good position in the box. It’s the latter part that I found lacking in his game. Once he won the initial ball, he often hung back outside of the box. Sometimes he did well by making good late attacking runs, but he didn’t always do this. Plus he must be aware that officials will often give those late aerial challenges to the defender in the box (when the forward jumps over the defender). 5.0
Kim Young-Gwang: Of the five players on show here, Kim Young-Gwang certainly had the most disappointing day. Mainly just because of the second goal that he let in. A near post shot from an acute angle hit him squarely in the hands, but somehow he managed to let it trickle in underneath him. A howler to say the least. If this is our number 2 keeper, then we may have problems if Jung Sung-Ryong gets injured.
I’ve never played goalkeeper before, so I will not criticize too much. But his performance was concerning. Granted Jeonbuk is a good team, but Kim Young-Gwang was clearly at fault for the second goal. I also saw the game Lee Bum-Young (third keeper) played, and his performance was also concerning. We seem to be very thin at keeper. 4.5
Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid: Matchday 27 – Spanish Primera Division
The game between relegation threatened Celta and we’ve-given-up-in-LaLiga-because-we-can’t-catch-Barcelona-and-won’t-miss-out-on-the-Champions-League-but-can’t-say-we-have-given-up Madrid was a thoroughly scrappy affair. Celta put out a starting XI that was the same as in the past couple weeks since Abel Resino took charge. Madrid put out a vastly changed XI from the sides that overcame Manchester United and Barcelona. The first half remained goalless, and it took a scrappy goal from Ronaldo to put Madrid ahead. The lead didn’t last as Celta immediately responded. Marcelo and Albiol were slow to react to a quickly taken Celta throw. Star man Iago Aspas collected the ball in the area, turned and fired. The ball took a major deflection off of Pepe, leaving Diego Lopez no chance as he had already dived the wrong way. Minutes later, Kaka came on as a sub and won penalty. Ronaldo smashed it home and Madrid was up 2-1.
Park Chu-Young came on as a sub in the 81st minute, a move that slightly surprised me. Losing to Getafe? Leave him on the bench. Losing to Sevilla? Take a rest Park. Losing to Real Madrid? Okay, get in there and help save us. Strange to say the least, but perhaps that’s why Celta is in the relegation zone. Anyway, Park came on and did make an impact. Park was allowed to play up top in his preferred position, usually staying slightly towards the left. Perhaps targeting Michael Essien who was in his converted right back role. Park’s first action was to force Essien to head behind for a Celta corner. Then he made a good tackle on the edge of the area, allowing Aspas to shoot from range, forcing a good save from Lopez. Finally he missed a glorious chance to play hero, beating Lopez to the ball, but only managing to head against the crossbar.
Despite only playing for a short time, Park showed what he is capable of doing when he is allowed to play “his” game. That is to let him play on the shoulder of defenders, drift laterally when need by, and generally be less involved with the link up play. When he is on form, which admittedly he hasn’t been in quite a while, Park is a constant threat and thorn in defender’s sides. While a traditional number 9, ala Lee Dong-Gook is fairly easy to mark, Park is not. It requires constant communication along the defensive line to make sure someone is picking up his runs and that the line is well held and steps up together. However, if the defensive line is like this, then it is difficult for Park to make an impact on the game as he will not create much on his own or for others. Similarly teams that play extremely deep and compact will also create problems for Park as there is no space for him to move into.
Park’s cameo showed that he capable of causing plenty of problems for opposing defenses even though he has seen limited playing time over the past two seasons. I am hopeful that next season he will find himself in a better situation club-wise, and he will be starting and playing regularly in his best position.
Don’t forget to follow the @SKSblog twitter handle. The website may be down, but the twitter account isn’t! Follow for random footballing tweets (both Korean and European related), post updates, and live tweets during national team matches! Also, if you’re interested in what it’s like to follow a midtable K League Classic team, check out my other blog A Season with the IPark.
If you watched either match (Jeonbuk vs Ulsan or Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid), please share your thoughts in the comment section. Are you concerned about our goalkeeping depth too? Is Lee Dong-Gook better than I give him credit for? Is Jung In-Hwan good enough for the national team? Can Park Chu-Young make a comeback?
As a Jeonbuk fan I feel that a lot of the criticism that Lee Dong-Gook receives is fair, and to some extent he has brought on himself. While he may be beloved by fans as “The Lion King” we all accept that he is a lazy player. As you mention he can flourish under a system designed around him; some weeks he will leave you begging for more with some great finishes, other weeks he will leave you frustrated to no end with a lack of production. It will be interesting to see how his dynamic will adapt to playing up front with Kevin Oris (signed from Deajeon) who has good technical skills and is very lethal in the air. Not being the only target man now, especially for crosses, is going to have an effect on his role at the club.
A someone who doesn’t follow the national team as closely as the K-League, it is hard for me to discuss who is better suited to play with certain players. I discussed my thoughts in regards to Lee Dong-Gook, and his selection through coach Choi, on the Tavern before (which I’m sure is kicking around in the comments somewhere). One thing I will say on the the matter is that while I think Dong-Gook isn’t good enough for the national team squad anymore (espcially if compared to someone such as Son Heung-Min) He does have a wealth of international experience. With 95 caps there isn’t much that he hasn’t seen or done, which I think the coach values among a rather inexperienced selection pool for the striker position.
On a side note I think Jung In-Hwan is a fanatic player and he has made a great start to this season’s campaign. Most recently was his solid performance against a very strong Guangzhou Evergrande side, where he asserted his aerial dominance and wasn’t afraid to get stuck in, picking-up two knocks throughout the game. I would love to see him given more opportunities in the national team.
Interesting insight about Lee Dong-Gook. I pretty much agree with what you said as it also pertains to his NT performances. There are matches/moments where he shows his class and ability, and then there are times you forget he’s even there. He is vastly experienced which is a big reason why he’s still called. Park Chu-Young is the only other experienced forward we have.
Admittedly I haven’t watched Jung In-Hwan a lot. Mainly his few NT appearances. I thought he was okay against Ulsan, but that may not be his normal performance level, or maybe I just need to observe him more for club. K-League-wise I support Busan (my hometown) so I rarely watch other clubs unless they’re playing Busan. I think Jung In-Hwan could have a bright future as long as he gets paired with a good partner. His partnership with Kim Ki-Hee was solid, but less so with Kwak Tae-Hwi (of course Australia isn’t nearly as strong as Croatia).