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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
South Korea 2-0 Greece

EURO 2004 SEEMS AN AWFULLY LONG TIME AGO

It’s hard to believe that Greece ever caused the European superpowers such headaches. Granted, they were never blessed with a generation of superstars, but they always had their composure, their organisation and their ability to suck the life out of football matches. It’s all gone now. When Lee Jung Soo slipped unnoticed into the six yard box to slam home Ki-Sung Yueng’s perfectly floated free-kick, the full extent of this Greek tragedy became apparent. Fortunate to go in at half-time just a goal down, they conceded again within minutes of the restart after a mistake by Loukas Vyntra allowed Park Ji-Sung to take full advantage.

Perhaps it was just the energy of the South Koreans, but at times the Greeks looked as if they were held in position with chains like guard dogs, unable to move more than five foot in any direction. Perhaps there had been an administrative error at the Greek Football Association and they had accidentally sent their Table Fussball team instead, all linked up with steel bars while Rehhagel manoeuvred them from the sidelines. But this wasn’t just a question of pace. They were too narrow, too constricted, too lethargic. They couldn’t keep the ball in the final third, but then there wasn’t the invention in the middle to create many opportunities for practice. Only in the last 20 minutes, did they start to show any sign of attacking intent but, by that stage, it was too late.

Greece’s last World Cup adventure ended prematurely when they were bundled out of USA94 after three straight defeats. Unless Rehhagel has something extraordinary up his sleeve, it’s hard to see a more successful outcome for them this summer.

WHY DID KOREA ENJOY SUCH DOMINANCE?

Rehhagel could only watch in horror as his plans disintegrated in the face of South Korea’s free-flowing, mesmeric attacking football. Lee Young-Pyo and Cha Du-Ri, ostensibly full-backs, were able to charge across the halfway line with impunity, giving the Koreans what was essentially a seven man midfield. With such dominance, they could choose either to swamp their opponents or lure them out and then slip a perfect ball through to speedy striker Park Chu-Yong. Park Ji-Sung was excellent throughout, bobbing and weaving, shifting position to find the point of least resistance. They weren’t perfect, by any means. Jung Sung-Ryong seemed uncomfortable in goal, until a fine late save at least, but that might have been because he played the entire first half with the mid-afternoon sun in his eyes. Even so, there was a distinct vulnerability at set-pieces that may come back to haunt them in the latter stages.

CAN SOUTH KOREA MAKE THE LATTER STAGES?

They certainly have the ability going forwards. England manager Fabio Capello is a firm believer that the modern game is about ‘speed, speed, speed’ and South Korea have that in abundance. Park Chu-Yong hasn’t got his eye in yet, but if he can discover his shooting boots before the tournament is out, he could be one of the surprise highlights. He’s got pace, he’s got a lovely first touch and he’s brave enough to get into shooting positions even if it hurts. Lee Chung-Yong and Park Ji-Sung remain the stars of the show, but South Korea have proved that they’re not just here to make up the numbers. They could cause some real problems this summer.

FINAL WHISTLE

Magic Moment - Lee Chung-Yong’s flick and turn in the Greek penalty area early on. The Bolton star was shoved unceremoniously into the ground for his impudence.

Laser-Guided - Ki-Sung Yueng’s free-kick for the opening goal was whipped into box, just into that area of uncertainty between the defence and the goalkeeper.

Net-Busting - Theofanis Gekas brought a superb save out of Jung Sung-Ryong. A less alert goalkeeper would have failed to stop such a thunderbolt.

Safe-Hands - Alexandros Tzorvas didn’t get much help from his defenders, but he didn’t need it when he stood strong to deny Park Chu-Yong from close range.

Tactical-Master - All pace and passing, Huh Jung-Moo’s side moved superbly, but it was the brave deployment of the full-backs that impressed most.

Floodlight-Smasher - Park Chu-Yong’s first half effort was comedy gold. The Monaco striker roared into position, but he snatched at the shot and sent it miiiiiles wide.

Dunce - I wouldn’t want to call Otto Rehhagel a dunce, but he really could have done with someone faster on the pitch. An old lady perhaps, or an elderly tortoise….

Ref-Watch - An easy game for Kiwi ref Michael Hester, who was barely noticed throughout.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE 3/5

MAN OF THE MATCH - Lee Chung-Yong. Quick, incisive, skilful, he’s a real handful.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY - “Perhaps next time, instead of focusing purely on profit, FIFA could avoid the sight of empty seats at games by pricing tickets at a level affordable to the locals?”
 
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