World Cup 2014 – Group H Match Report: South Korea 0- Belgium 1

29 Jun

Pic 1 fansSouth Korean fans stood by their team to the bitter end as Belgium ensured their place at top of Group H.

Date: Thursday, June 26, 2014
Place: Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo
Referee: Benjamin Williams (AUS)
Attendance: 761,397

Line Ups

For Belgium

Thibaut Courtois
Marouane Fellaini
Daniel Van Buyten
Jan Vertonghen (Captain)
Kevin Miralles (substitute Eden Hazard 88’)
Dries Mertens, (substitute Divock Origi 60’)
Steven DeFour, red card 45’
Anthony Vanden Borre
Nicolas Lombaerts
Mousa Dembele, yellow card 50’
Adnan Januzaj (substitute Nacer Chadli 60’)

For South Korea

Kim, Seung Gyu
Lee Yong
Kim Young-Gwon
Hong Jeong-ho, yellow card 35’
Han Kook-young (substitute Lee Kuen-Ho 45’)
Lee Chung-yong
Ki Sung-yeung,
Koo Ja-Cheol (captain),
Kim Shin Wook (substitute Kim Bo-Kyung 60’)
Son Heung-min (substitute Ji Dong-Won 73’)
Yun Suk Young

This match was not a pretty affair by anyone’s standards. Belgium already qualified for the Round of 16 in the last match against Russia and South Korea had a huge challenge ahead of them if they were going to have any luck in proceeding. What resulted was a very scrappy game with tons of missed chances and sloppy play and a red card thrown in. Sadly, this seems rather typical of a match containing either of these two teams.

Belgium rested a lot of their big players, with Kompany and Vermaelen not even traveling in order to continue with their recovery. And as par for the course, their game-winning goal did not come until the last twenty minutes of the match. This does not seem to concern Coach Wilmots. And to be frank, Belgium won all games in their group and while not pretty nor “efficient” as the team mentioned, it did get the job done.

South Korea must be disappointed in their run because there is a lot of talent on this team but no matter how many good runs are built in the back, lack of scoring will never serve a team well. I do hope that they’ll be able to go home and learn from this tournament so they can do well in the upcoming Asian Cup in 2015.

Both teams had good moments in the first half. Miralles and Mertens will be ones to continue to watch as their speed and sense of urgency will serve Belgium well. They showed some beautiful foot work and excellent passing to each other. However, even these two had serious problems getting the ball into the net. The best chance went to Mertens, who had a great cross land at his feet in the 25th minute. Seemingly harder to miss than score, Mertens mishit the ball and put it over the net. A few minutes later Son had a good shot that Defour was able to clear off the line.

But more often than not, play was continually interrupted by fouls in the midfield. Koo and Vanden Borre hassled each other throughout most of the first half and Dembele and Kim Shin Wook did the same.

Pic 2 Dembele and Kim Shin WookThings got uglier the closer we got to the half. And right before the half, Steven Defour was sent off for a studs up challenge on a 50/50 ball with Kim Shin Wook (otherwise known as “Our Giant” by the South Korean fans due to his 6’5” height). Initially it looked like a harsh decision but the replay clearly showed the studs up and the resulting stomp on the ankle.

Pic 3 red card DefourSadly stupid fouls continued into the second half where Dembele got a yellow card as well. He probably would have gotten away with a warning for the trip but by pushing the ball away from play after the whistle, he made his way into the book.

It was very surprising that South Korea took no advantage from playing a man up. Only Son showed any creativity or urgency or even speed, for that matter, throughout the second half. The play was sloppy and if you hadn’t seen the first half or did an actual man count, you’d be forgiven for not realizing that South Korea had a man advantage.

Only in the last twenty minutes did you see any sort of work rate. Son came off in the 73rd minute and four minutes later, Vertongen took advantage of a missed save by the South Korean keeper Kim who replaced number 1 keeper Jung and knocked it home.

Pic 4 Vertonghen goalThe quality of this video is not the greatest but you’ll see the chaos in front of goal that allowed Captain Vertonghen to score yet another Belgian late goal.

If the game came down to work rate, South Korea would deserve at least a point but even their late attempts at goal were just not enough to worry Courtois or the Belgian defense. Meanwhile, the Belgians have won their group and will face the US on Tuesday. If the Belgians continue this lack luster style of play and wait until the last minute, they will find a great fight in the “Never Say Die” Yanks. Claiming efficiency may appease their critics now but sloppy midfield play may lead to Belgian blushes if the Americans have their way. It is clear that the talent is there. If Mertens and Mirallas can continue their speedy footwork and if Eden Hazard can escape close marking and put a full effort in for the entire match, Tim Howard may have a busy day. However, we have not seen this Belgium yet. Which Belgium team shows up on Tuesday is yet to be seen.

– ForzaSusan

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