In a close match, it comes down to a lazy, mistimed tackle that sees South Korea lose out on a sharing of points against Sweden in their World Cup opener. The real disappointing aspect of this game is that it all fell on Keeper Cho Hyun-woo’s shoulders to keep his team afloat after making an unbelievable save to in the first half and many more throughout the match.
Andreas Granqvist would step up and make no mistake on the penalty, converting in the opposite corner to that of where Cho dove. The Swedish captain went on to celebrate as if the tournament was won, as if the goal wasn’t a penalty, and as if he had scored it in a way that required more talent than the dead-ball gift that it was. Granqvist’s lack of humility of composure if indicative of Sweden’s game in this match.
Constantly crying to referee, demanding penalties, throwing tantrums in the face of the ref for free kicks, and harassing him up and down the pitch, Sweden may have won the match but it was hardly convincing and certainly was not in a manner that they can be proud of. South Korea had been first to many 50/50 balls, yet were punished when someone in blue and yellow would go flailing to the pitch on incidental or secondary contact to the ball.
Sweden not playing a prideful match will hardly matter to them at this point, as anything is currently possible in Group F with Germany losing their opener to Mexico. For South Korea, however there will be an uphill battle ahead of them if they want to make it out of the pool.
Should they collect some points in this match there are two things they need to do: move Heung-min Son to striker, and get more attempts on net. Moving Son to striker will physically adjust his mentality of play, making him feel less inclined to come back down the pitch and bring the ball forward. As South Korea set up their formation was a 4-3-3 with Son as a distinct left forward on the pitch. However, even with a left midfielder and leftback behind him on the pitch Son was constantly tracking back to pick up the ball to try and outlet play away from his end.
If Son is played up top S. Korea will immediately have an upgrade on striker, and any chances that do fall to the centre forward position will be in world class hands (or boots!). The fact of the matter is that Sweden had 15 shots with 5 on target, while S. Korea had 5 without any making it to the keeper. This isn’t good enough, frankly, and with much more challenging matches in their group with Mexico and Germany awaiting their matchups, South Korea needs to change their attack plan.
The lone bright spot in this match was the incredible play of Cho Hyun-woo. He is young, athletic, and was prepared for Sweden’s best in this match. He was left down by his defender and that is truly a shame. The entire team may not have deserved a win in this match but Cho definitely did.