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Paulo Bento Named New Manager of the Korean National Team

Paulo Bento has been named the new head coach of the Korean national team for the next World Cup cycle. He has managed the Portugal national side, Sporting Club de Portugal, Cruzeiro, Olympiakos, and most recently Chongqing Dangdai Lifan. His first matches in charge of the Taegeuk Warriors will be the friendly matches against Costa Rica and Chile.
(image via specialfoot.myt.mu)


Paulo Bento was in charge of Portugal at the 2014 World Cup where he picked up four points in the group stage with a win over Ghana and a draw with the USA. They missed out on the knockout stages on goal difference after losing 4-0 to Germany, partly due to a moment of madness by Pepe. Germany of course won the World Cup that year and beat Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals.

Two years before that, Bento’s Portugal went very close to winning Euro 2012, losing in the semi-finals on penalties to eventual winners Spain. One of the highlights of that tournament was Portugal’s 2-1 win against the Netherlands (back when they were good) in the group stages. The Daily Telegraph’s Duncan White described that Portugal performance as ‘ruthless’ and said that if they had a quality center forward instead of Helder Postiga then they could have been out of site.

That match sums up Bento’s style at Portugal. Defensively solid, but hitting the opposition with quick counter attacking football with Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo as the two wing-forwards . Bento knew both of them from his time as a player and coach at Sporting Club de Portugal, and built his Portugal team around them. Ronaldo had struggled for Portugal under Bento’s predecessor Carlos Queiroz, but scored for fun under Bento. If Bento can manage to tighten up Korea’s defense like he did with Portugal, while at the same time working his magic on Son Heung-min, Lee Kang-in and Lee Seung-woo like he did with Ronaldo and Nani then Korea will be quite a team indeed.

Before managing Portugal, he was in charge of Sporting Club de Portugal, or as some people call them, Sporting Lisbon. Sporting are traditionally Portugal’s third biggest team, behind Benfica and Porto, but they finished second each season under Bento and won the Portuguese cup twice as well as reaching the knockout stages of the Champions’ League where they got hammered by Bayern Munich (German sides seem to be Bento’s Kryptonite).

He has also had two short unsuccessful spells at Cruzeiro and most recently at Chongqing Dangdai Lifan (although one mitigating factor is that Chongqing’s squad is beyond dire), and a spell in charge of Greek side Olympiakos where he was sacked despite being top of the league and still in the Europa League and Greek Cup.

With Portugal, Bento pretty much always used a 4-3-3 formation, with Nani and Ronaldo as the two wide strikers. At Olympiakos he mainly opted for a 4-2-3-1, and at Sporting CP, he went for a 4-4-2 diamond formation for the most part.

His first matches are against Costa Rica in Goyang and Chile in early September.

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