Somewhat predictably, Team GB lost on penalties to South Korea last night in yet another quarter-final exit. This article is not meant to be a review of the game as such; what it attempts to provide is an understanding of how Team GB conceded the opening goal (scored by a Premier League player) from South Korea.
The move for the opening goal began just inside the South Korean half. Sturridge didn’t press the defender very hard, which allowed the South Korean time to choose between any one of five viable options. In the end, he played a diagonal cross-field ball out to Ki Sung-yueng:
Note the Team GB marking in defence as the ball was played out to the wing. Team GB’s right-back, Taylor, was marking Sunderland’s Ji (the eventual goalscorer), whilst Micah Richards was marking the other Korean forward.
As the long pass reached its target, Ki Sung-yueng’s technique on receiving the ball was top-class. His body shape was facing directly towards the ball, giving him excellent balance, and his controlling foot was completely open in anticipation. This gave him the ‘soft feet’ required for laying-off the ball with his first touch:
As you can see from the image above, Taylor has stopped marking Ji and has rightly come across to meet Ki Sung-yueng. However, Taylor then wrongly predicts Ki Sung-yeung will drive towards goal or down towards the byline, hence his movement indicated by the green arrow. This opens up the space allowing the lay-off to reach Ji.
A different angle of the same moment shows how the movement of Team GB enables Ji to find so much space:
After Taylor has moved across to the ball, Richards has decided not to shuttle across to pick up Ji. Instead, he drops deeper towards the edge of the penalty box in an attempt at zonal marking. Meanwhile, Ji has barely moved from the time the ball was originally played out wide. This relative lack of movement actually helped create so much space. You can also see how both Richards and Cleverley (ringed) are pointing at Ji. They know someone should be marking him. They can both see the danger. Yet neither take responsibility.
When Ji finally receives the ball he finds himself completely unmarked:
One touch later and Ji is still in acres of space as he lines up his shot at goal:
Whilst Ji’s powerful shot was enough to bamboozle Butland in the Team GB goal, the decision-making in defence cost Team GB dear. Take nothing away from South Korea’s goal though: the technique Ki Sung-yeung showed with his first-time lay-off and Ji’s intelligent, subtle movement was enough to confuse their opponents and help earn them a semi-final place at the Olympics.
At just 21 years of age, Sunderland’s Ji Dong-Won is only just beginning his career in football’s top-flight. He’s had limited opportunities so far at Sunderland, with two goals and two assists from just two starts and seventeen substitute appearances. However he has lots of potential, as well as time, to make a name for himself in the Premier League.