Japan and South Korea are considered to be Asian rivals in the world of soccer. One of the greatest young talents representing both countries is playing for Mallorca in the Spanish first division. They are Japan national team midfielder Kubo Tatehide (20) and South Korea national team midfielder Lee Kang-in (20).
Kubo has been playing on loan from Real Madrid (Spain), while Lee Gang-in moved to Mallorca from Valencia (Spain) this summer and signed a four-year contract. The relationship between the two countries is even more heated when it comes to Japan-Korea matches, and the two are constantly being compared.
The first time the two started on the same pitch was against Real Madrid on September 22. Kubo was injured in the match, and the team lost 1-6. Kubo was substituted at halftime of the game due to a right knee injury, and was forced to be out of action for about a month.
On the other hand, the only goal scored by Mallorca in the first 25 minutes of the match was scored by Lee Gang-in, who played in the top half. He dribbled through three Real defenders and scored a sharp left-footed goal, playing the full 90 minutes. The following game against Osasuna on September 26, he also started and played at the top of the lineup. He played the full 90 minutes, scoring a sharp left-footed goal.
“Lee Gun-in was the star of the Osasuna game. He was a threat for Mallorca from start to finish, as he was against Real. After playing a full game against Real, he threatened the goal with a free kick against Osanas and created the decisive moment with a middle shot.
Korean media outlet Newsis also had this to say.
The Korean media outlet Newsis said, “With his accurate kicking, passing and dribbling, he found a way for Mallorca to attack. He didn’t score, but his presence was enough to make us forget that Kubo is out injured.
Toward the end of the game, his pressing from the front sometimes seemed lacking, but he was certainly the starting point of the attack. He has been trusted to be the kicker for set pieces, and as his understanding of tactics deepens, we can expect to see more of him. Once called a “child prodigy,” he led South Korea to a runner-up finish at the 2019 U-20 World Cup and won the Golden Ball (MVP).
What worries me is Kubo’s condition. A knee injury has kept him out of the team, and he will not be able to play in the final Asian qualifiers for the World Cup in Qatar in October (October 7 in Saudi Arabia and October 12 in Australia), so he will be out of action at a crucial time.
He is still highly rated in Mallorca, but on the other hand, this is his third season in Spain, and it will be a year of competition. Spanish media outlet Football España, after nominating Kubo as one of their top three “breakout stars,” said
“It’s time for him to improve his own reputation. If he can do that, he will be ready for the biggest stage of his career next year: Real Madrid.
This is his third year at the club, and it will be an important one.
ESPN, a U.S. sports channel, said, “They have a lot in common in their careers. Both are 20 years old and are arguably the biggest talents of the last decade in their respective countries. 10 years old, they both left their home countries, but their common destination was Spain. Both left their home country at the young age of 10, but their common destination was Spain. They will be intertwined not only in the past, but also in the present and the future.
For Kubo and Lee Gun-in, they are approaching a critical time to win a position in the team. It will be at least a month before they are on the same pitch again, but they are expected to lead the team that is currently in 12th place in the La Liga (2 wins, 2 minutes, 3 losses), and to boost the Japanese and Korean soccer scene.
Reporting and writing ： Myung-Woo Kim