Monday, May 24, 2010

Friendly: Japan v South Korea: the other point of view

2-1 to the Taeguk Warriors. Lets face it. Both teams weren't really on their top form, apart from of course, the obvious Park Ji Sung. The reason he wore number 14 today, instead of his usual 7, might be because he's twice smarter than James Bond!

South Korea's defence were not really tested, and I think that is what concerns Huh Jung Moo. They were expected to be on the counter while Japan having most of the possessions. But Park Ji Sung were so good, that Japan basically had Shunsuke Nakamura as defensive midfielder, while Yasuhito Endo played centre half.

And Lee Chung Yong and Ki Sung Yong has not really clicked on that well. Lee Chung Yong, Bolton's player of the year, persistently fouling the Japanese. You could argue he's breaking up the plays, but that is not what he does best and not the best way he could offer Korea. Celtic' Ki fared better, dangerous deliveries from set pieces all the time. And Korean strikers were really hungry, getting behind by thier pace and kept Nakazawa and Abe on their toes.

Cha Du Ri, the great Bum Kun's son, at right back, is a secret weapon. He's fit, fast and skilfull. The Knight of the Korean team. Park Chu Young didnt involve much either. So the thing for Korea is they are playing together as a team, but not to their full potential, again, except Park Ji Sung. He's great!

Japan started with a surprise lineup, with Yuki Abe at centre half replacing Tulio, Nagatomo swiched from the left to the right, replacing Atsuto Uchida at right back while Yasuyuki Konno took his place at left back. Endo started as a Pirlo like defensive midfielder, Okubo took his left midfield role. This somewhat Milan like formation stars Keisuke Honda as the playmaker.

I thought it was understandable. The selections. Tulio and Nakazawa are first choice centrehalfs, but if they are injured like what happened four years ago, Japan is really limited at this position. Hence trying out Abe and Konno aren't the worst case.

What surprised me was Okubo. This man neither passes well nor shoots well, why is he included in the squad instead of perhaps Shinji Kagawa or the young defender Maya Yoshida. Work rate wise, he's probably good, but this only happens when Japan does not play well. Sorry to him, but i was glad he was carried off the stretcher, Japan wont play well with him on the pitch.

Like the Koreans, the formation did not work well. Neither Nakamura nor Endo was comfortable with the crowded central midfield, effectively cutting off the supply line to Honda. Makoto Hasebe fared slightly better, his long legs were put to good use on those small Korean strikers.

The first goal Narazaki was to be blamed. Poor positioning from an experienced goalkeeper. Of course, the defence shouldnt have let Park Ji Sung shoot in the first place.

Japan's overall play was bad. No direction, and too complicated short passes. It only got better when Kengo Nakamura came on, and tried to drift out wide or slot the direct pass. Morimoto looked good though, and the set pieces were awful. Still time to work on it though. If there's a time for Okada to be firm about his changes, it is now. the recommended starting eleven on a 442 formation-

Goalkeeper Kawaguchi
Right Back Uchida
Centrehalves Tulio and Nakazawa
Left back Nagatomo
Right wing Shunsuke Nakamura(His best years were the Parkhead years, so let him play that way. )
Central midfield - Hasebe and Honda (again, play them where they are the best, Hasebe the Makelele and Honda the free-and-only-attack-playmaker)
Left Midfield - Endo (He needs the space and he puts in quality crosses)
Strikers - Morimoto and Okazaki

Forget about Tamada, he wont score in this world cup and he wont play in the next. The future lies in Morimoto and Okazaki, for the future experience and their pace. Matsui can come on late to keep the pressure on the opposing defence.

All in all, Japan definitely benefitted from this friendly more than Korea. The objectives were achieved, at least he knows you cant play like this. Korea were never really tested.

Wanna get to the semis? Time to be brave Mr Okada.

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