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Team K League should have a better chance this year


Team K League, in its Coupang Play Match against Atlético Madrid on Thursday, should be in a better position to either win or put on a performance than it did 12 months ago against Tottenham Hotspur due to a number of factors.
The Spurs game became a bit of a farce. A player would come on and then before you'd even noticed, they'd been taken off again. K League's relentless summer schedule and no break for the Team K League friendly meant that players were only wanting - or were being instructed to - play no more than 30 minutes each.  After all, the bread and butter of the K League was much more important. 

The constant substitutions meant 2022 Team K League wasn't able to find any sort of rhythm like it did in 2019. Team K League also had a man sent off when Incheon's Kim Dong-min decided he wanted to scythe down Son Heung-min while he was bearing down on goal.


How this year will be different

First of all, there are 22 players in the squad and not 24 meaning there won't be substitutions made for the sake of it. What we'll most likely see is two different XIs playing in each half with less disruption. 

There have also been fewer midweek matches played so far this year compared to last, meaning players aren't going to be dead on their feet. By the time Son Heung-min and Harry Kane stepped foot onto the turf at Seoul World Cup Stadium on July 13th, there had been six midweek rounds (3, 8, 10, 13, 17, 20) whereas this year it's just four (9, 12, 17, 22).

What will also help this year is the break that follows after Atletico Madrid leaves town. In 2022, when Tottenham Hotspur and South Korea national team captain Son Heung-min took on Team K League on July 13th, some of the players had had games just a few days prior and then another a few days later. This year, players won't have a league match coming up in two or three days to worry about.


FNR

Other contributing factors

Fatigue and match sharpness

There are some other factors to take into consideration. In 2019, Juventus arrived at Seoul World Cup Stadium five minutes after the game was supposed to kick off. A delayed flight from China, where they had played a friendly with Inter Milan in Nanjing on July 24th, two days before the Team K League fixture, resulted in the delay and the "muscle fatigue" cited by Ronaldo as the reason why he didn't play. The delay seemed to galvanise the Team K League players. Interestingly, it could be argued that Juventus were already in tune having played two matches before facing Team K League but the match-day chaos won't have helped at all. Tottenham, on the other hand, arrived in South Korea at 15:25 on Sunday 10th July, three days before the match with Team K League. Spurs, then, were fresher and in a better frame of mind than Juventus.



Less disruption

The Team K League squad was bigger than the 2023 version, with 24 players compared to 22. Two substitutions were made in the first half with Kwon Chang-hoon and Lee Seung-woo both taken off after 32 minutes. Lee's replacement was Lars Veldwijk who was also replaced on 62 minutes. Lars wasn't the only player to come on and then be taken off with Yang Hyun-jun getting the same number of minutes - on for Kwon Chang-hoon then replaced by Amano Jun. The game was messy and frantic with all 24 players being given a runout and Team K League never stood much of a chance. There are also fewer players from the division's bottom three clubs compared to last year - three compared to six in 2022 and 2019.


Who's in the Team K League squad this year?

The fan eleven was determined on Monday 17th July and consists of one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders, and three forwards. The most represented teams are Daejeon Hana Citizen and Ulsan Hyundai with three players each followed by Jeonbuk with two.

On Wednesday 19th July, manager Hong Myung-bo and his assistant Choi Won-kwon announced the "Pick Eleven" which took into account various factors including positions and K League club distribution.

Full squad details: here

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