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The K League Coach: Korea Republic 1-0 Kyrgyzstan

The K League Coach: Korea 1-0 Kyrgyzstan
After an underwhelming opening game, Korea had another opportunity to show their quality and send a warning out to everyone in the AFC Asian Cup. Though tactically a different challenge than that of the Philippines clash, similar issues arose for Korea Republic, again resulting in another less than inspiring 1-0 victory.
(Image via EPA)

Game Information

Team: Korea Republic
Opposition: Kyrgyzstan
Date: January 7th 2019
Competition: Asian Cup Group C, Round 2

Match Overview

Bento made three changes from the first round game but went with the same shape. Kyrgyzstan went with a slightly higher defensive line, and had two men up top, committed more men forward and increased the tempo of the game. However, Korea were again able to dominate possession. It took a header from a corner kick in the first half to secure the win, with Kyrgyzstan causing Korea few issues and pushing for an equaliser late on.


Line Up


Offensive Shape

Despite the line up changes Korea set up in a very similar shape to the opening game. Full backs pushed high and attacking midfielders would tuck inside trying to create overloads.


One significant shift came due to Kyrgyzstan's defensive approach. Unlike the Philippines, Kyrgyzstan played a much higher line, confronting Korea in the midfield third as well as having two players high up pressing Korea's centre backs in a 5-3-2. These two changes resulted in Korea having the opportunity to lay more direct passes as there was space in behind the Kyrgyzstan defence. At times this was a viable attacking option with runners in behind, but at times it was a result of Korean defenders being pressed and looking for a quick route out.

Tempo Issues

Once again Korea struggled once pressed into playing at a higher tempo. This time play was further up the field due to Kyrgyzstan's higher defensive line and so similar issues arose once again. When playing into tight areas and trying to break through the oppositions compact central midfield, passes went astray and Korea failed to look incisive, with Kyrgyzstan having chances to counter attack and quickly get the ball forward to their two strikers.

Though Korea did create more opportunities to score, they amount of possession they had should have produced more scoring opportunities. The turnovers in tight areas also gave Kyrgyzstan to threaten the Korean goal.

Defensive Structure

Koreans domination of possession meant that most defending was done when dealing with Kyrgyzstan counter attacks. The focus of these attacks was often into the space vacated by Korea's high-stacking full back.



Korea seemed unsure who was supposed to go out and cover this channel. At times a centre back stepped out and a defensive midfielder would cover in behind in the empty centre back slot, on other occasions a defensive midfielder went out and the CB stayed central. Both methods have their merits, but the indecision meant that Kyrgyzstan were able to threaten the Korean goal.

Defending Corners

An interesting approach as taken to defending corners. Bento was obviously concerned about the threat Kyrgyzstan offered at set pieces and had all 11 men back in the box, utilising a zonal system.



Conclusions

  • A higher defensive line allowed Korea to play more direct passes from front to back.
  • A higher tempo from the oppositions press meant play in midfield became scrappy.
  • Chance creation improved, but still not enough considering the amount of possession Korea had.
  • Bento has now stuck to the same shape and approach for both games, with very little in terms of in-game adjustment, despite struggling to finish smaller nations off.
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