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Bento's S. Korea struggle on offense vs. high-pressing Chile

All Headlines 22:23 September 11, 2018

By Joo Kyung-don

SUWON, South Korea, Sept. 11 (Yonhap) -- Paulo Bento's South Korea experienced a stern test from Chile in a men's football friendly on Tuesday, as they had a difficult time displaying their style of football before a huge home crowd.

South Korea and Chile played to a scoreless draw at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, south of Seoul. This was South Korea's second match under Bento, who took the helm last month.

Against Chile, Bento said he wanted to check whether South Korea could still dominate the match and create frequent attacking chances with a fast tempo. But Chile proved to be a difficult foe that didn't allow South Korea to dictate the pace and execute their game plans.

After all, Chile are ranked 12th in the FIFA rankings, 45 spots ahead of South Korea.

South Korea used a 4-2-3-1 formation, the same setup from a friendly against Costa Rica last Friday.

South Korea's Son Heung-min (L) tries to take a shot against Chile's Gary Medel during a friendly football match at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, south of Seoul, on Sept. 11, 2018. (Yonhap)

Bento made three changes from the previous lineup. Hwang Ui-jo and Hwang Hee-chan started in the striker and right wing positions, respectively, instead of Ji Dong-won and Lee Jae-sung. Kim Jin-hyeon wore the gloves ahead of Kim Seung-gyu and Song Bum-keun in net.

Both sides had fierce midfield battles from the start, but Chile were better in controlling and winning the ball in the middle.

With captain Gary Medel protecting the center back duo of Guillermo Maripan and Igor Lichnovsky, FC Barcelona's Arturo Vidal covered the pitch with his unstoppable runs and energetic moves. Bayer Leverkusen's Charles Aranguiz also did some dirty work in the midfield.

Unlike in the Costa Rica friendly, South Koreans had a hard time moving the ball to the attacking third. Against Chile's high pressing, with players moving up as deep as South Korea's penalty box area, South Korean defenders and midfielders often lost the ball with stray passes.

And Chile took advantage of South Koreans' mistakes in the midfield, which also allowed them to move forward to the opponents' box quickly.

Such aggressive pressing from Chile forced the South Koreans to cut their opponents down with fouls. In the first half, South Korea committed nine fouls, compared to Chile's four fouls.

Chile's Arturo Vidal (C) dribbles against South Korean players during a friendly football match at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, south of Seoul, on Sept. 11, 2018. (Yonhap)

South Korea's promising chances were created from counterattacks, mostly after intercepting the ball from Chile in the midfield and sending it to speedy attackers like Son Heung-min and Hwang Hee-chan.

One scoring opportunity came in the 21st minute, when Hwang Hee-chan took a long pass from the midfield and sent a through ball to Hwang Ui-jo, whose right-footed shot from a tight angle was blocked by goalkeeper Gabriel Arias.

Against Costa Rica, South Korea's attack was also highlighted by overlapping full backs. But against Chile, South Korean full backs were relatively silent.

Instead, Chile effectively used their full backs, led by right back Mauricio Isla. The Fenerbahce player almost picked up an assist in the 63rd, but Vidal's close-range volley flew over the net.

South Korea's Lee Jae-sung (C) is surrounded by Chile players during a friendly football match at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, south of Seoul, on Sept. 11, 2018. (Yonhap)

South Korea replaced Hwang Ui-jo for Ji Dong-won and Nam Tae-hee for Lee Jae-sung before the 65th minute to switch gears in their attacks. Chile's pressing got looser than in the first half, and as their players began to tire, South Korea gradually gained momentum on offense.

Jang Hyun-soo nearly stunned the visitors with a header off a corner kick in the 68th. Hwang Hee-chan's dribble penetration in the 77th also drew noise from the crowd, but it wasn't enough to break down Chile's dogged defense.

From the 80th minute mark, South Korea were able to play the ball around Chile's box and were able to earn corner kicks. But they also lacked delicate last ball touches to open Chile's net.

The match against Chile will give Bento's side something to work on: how to create chances when opponents play a high-pressing game.

South Korea's Jang Hyun-soo (R) takes a header off a corner kick during a friendly football match at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, south of Seoul, on Sept. 11, 2018. (Yonhap)


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