South Korea have Son Heung-min, and China have Wu Lei. The 2 might not be on the similar degree when it comes to expertise or renown, but the Chinese language attacker is as essential to Marcello Lippi’s aspect as Son is to Paulo Bento’s. This was made all of the extra clear on Wednesday when the groups met of their ultimate group recreation on the Asian Cup.
The Chinese language had been all the time going to discover it robust in opposition to South Korea in Abu Dhabi. But with out Wu — sidelined by a shoulder harm — it was virtually mission inconceivable as they sank to a 2-Zero defeat and gave up the highest spot in Group C to the Koreans.
Korea requested loads of questions of their East Asian rivals, and Son’s presence performed a component, albeit a stunning one. Few anticipated the Tottenham Hotspur man to begin the ultimate recreation of the group. Each groups had been already by means of, and ending prime was not a serious prize particularly as second meant a take a look at in opposition to Thailand that neither can be afraid of.
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Son had solely arrived in Abu Dhabi on Monday. He flew from London to Dubai after which took a two-hour drive to the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The day earlier than, he had performed in a hard-fought Premier League match in opposition to Manchester United to finish a really busy couple of months in Europe. No marvel he admitted to reporters when he landed that he was drained.
Korea get pleasure from their superior report in opposition to China — simply two losses in over 30 conferences — but even so, most Korean journalists thought that Son would begin on the bench and maybe come on for the final 20 minutes. In spite of everything, the purpose of Son popping out for the final group recreation was not likely to play in it; expectations had been that Korea can be by means of by that time. No, arriving earlier than the top of the group video games would give Son an opportunity to relaxation and prepare for the actual motion: the knockout stage.
But he began and confirmed few indicators of tiredness. He was concerned in each of Korea’s targets and carried a basic air of menace. Korea appeared way more harmful with their talisman, and if he stays match and the defence stays strong then the boys from Seoul will take some stopping.
In the meantime, Wu was out with that shoulder harm, the nasty trying X-ray of which was extensively circulated on Chinese language social media. He was missed, and never solely by followers again within the Center Kingdom. The Shanghai SIPG man, the highest scorer of the 2018 Chinese language Tremendous League season — no imply feat given the attacking expertise within the league — was sensational in opposition to the Philippines.
Korea had scored solely as soon as in opposition to Sven Goran-Eriksson’s Azkals but China managed three in opposition to them, and that was down to Wu. Son has a penchant for the spectacular, but even he has not scored a objective to higher the instinctive flip and chip from the sting of the realm that Wu someway pulled off. It deserved to be seen world wide. Wu’s second — a wonderful volley direct from a nook — appeared mundane as compared.
It was no shock then that the one participant the Koreans had been apprehensive about was Wu. With out him, the Chinese language do not carry the identical menace and do not have the identical confidence — similar to Son with Korea.
Now it’s time for Wu to observe in Son’s footsteps and head to Europe. He has already been linked to Chinese language-owned Wolverhampton Wanderers of the Premier League, and he’ll have many choices ought to he resolve to go. His tag because the “Chinese language Maradona” is foolish, but he deserves to be higher identified than he’s.
Happily, for followers again house in addition to neutrals — although much less so for Thai defenders — Wu’s shoulder harm will not be as critical because the X-rays made it look, and coach Lippi says he will likely be again for the knockout stage.
China want him as a lot as South Korea want Son. Wu is exhibiting that he is likely one of the greatest stars in Asian soccer. No matter occurs on the Asian Cup, he deserves a wider viewers.