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1+1: Gamba Osaka 3-2 FC Seoul (AFC Recap) & FC Seoul vs. Ulsan Hyundai Preview

Prior to FC Seoul and Gamba Osaka meeting up in the AFC Champion's League round of 16, I predicted that somehow FC Seoul would not only win, but win ugly.  A week ago, these two teams met in Seoul and Gamba Osaka left feeling a large amount of gratitude towards their host's generosity.  On Wednesday, FC Seoul traveled to Osaka hoping that the Gamba would reciprocate.

Having conceded three goals at home, Seoul would have to score at least 3 goals to advanced to the quarter finals.  Having bitched and moaned about their anemic offense in prior posts, you will know that this was quite an arduous task, one that is highly unlikely.  Still, there was a small amount of hope that Choi Soo-yong could find a way to rally the troops and pull off a win for the ages.

Unfortunately, it was not to come to fruition as Gamba Osaka put this game away in the first half. Leading 3-1 on aggregate, FC Seoul could not afford to concede and they would have to hope to score early.  Choi probably stressed this in the team talk before kick-off, but much as it is with the children I teach, it was in one ear and out the other.

Disaster struck in the 16th minute as Patric scored a header off Takashi Usami's cross.  Last games man of the match, it would seem as though Seoul would be alert to his danger, but they allowed for him to pick up the ball in the middle of the park and cross.  Park Yong-woo, ostensibly the defensive midfielder, jogged alongside him and the two chatted amicably about what to do in Osaka after the game for a bit until Usami decided to put the ball into the box.  Unfortunately, Osmar stuck his leg out but missed the clearance and it was an easy header for Patric to convert.

In all seriousness though, it was a great goal and make me envious that Seoul cannot produce that sort of quality right now.  There was nothing that Kim Yong-dae, who was back between the sticks for the first time since the Suwon disaster, could do about it.  Now that Seoul needed to score four goals, it was pretty much game over.

However, Seoul were handed a life line in the 41st minute as a Gamba player was caught pulling the shirt of an FC Seoul player on the free kick.  Shirt pulling is universal nowadays, but it is almost never given, so it is nice to see the referee enforce the standard rather than turn a blind eye to it.  Sadly, Molina dragged his penalty kick well wide of the goal and a moment's hope was now gone.

The stomach punch came four minutes late for Seoul as they failed to clear a ball in the box.  The defender Kim Dong-woo was kind enough to knock the ball down and into the path for Shu Kurata to score.  Surely, Choi Soo-yong gave the team the hair dryer treatment at half time.

I loved Phil Brown.  Maybe he could replace Choi Soo-yong.

Yun Ju-tae pulled one back in the 58th minute, rifling it in from the top of the box off a cross from Sim Je-hyuk.  It was a nice goal but too little too late.  It is nice to see him get some games and goals though.  Hopefully, he will play Sunday against Ulsan.

In the 86th minute, Gamba Osaka scored again.  A cross from the left was headed into the net and there was little that Kim Yong-dae could do other than watch.  However, Yun Ju-tae did score in the 92nd minute to make things more respectable.  The aggregate was 6-3, but I do not think it was ever that close.  Outside of Yun Ju-tae, who scored all three goals for Seoul, nobody else acquitted themselves very well.

People are split about Choi Soo-yong.  Some deride him for his tactics and feel as though he no longer is able to motivate the team while others blame the board for not replacing Dejan and Ha Dae Sung.  I am somewhere in the middle.

Unfortunately, for Seoul and Choi Soo-yong, there is no rest this weekend.  They will play Ulsan on Sunday and it is the cliched six pointer.  Both teams are tied at 15 points apiece, but Ulsan is 5th in the table and Seoul is 8th because of goal differential.

This is never a good match for Seoul.  They never do well against Ulsan at home.  The last time they won was in 2012.  Kim Shin-wook, if he plays, always give Seoul's keeper Kim Yong-dae a nightmare.

Here is a video from 2011 of a playoff game between FC Seoul and Ulsan.  The quality is hazy like the Zapruder film, but jump to the 47th second for the first goal.  Kim Yong-dae goes out to catch, it collides with the Ulsan player and drops it.  From there, he has always had difficulty against Ulsan.

Here are the stats for the last twenty games.
FC Seoul    Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i
Ø Goals per Match1.41.4

That is pretty even.  Let's see how it has been for the last ten games.

08/03/15, 08:00Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i - FC Seoul FT 2 : 0  (2 : 0) (0 : 0)
16/11/14, 06:00FC Seoul - Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i FT 2 : 2  (2 : 0) (0 : 2)
09/10/14, 07:00Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i - FC Seoul FT 0 : 3  (0 : 1) (0 : 2)
06/08/14, 12:30FC Seoul - Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i FT 0 : 1  (0 : 0) (0 : 1)
29/03/14, 06:00Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i - FC Seoul FT 2 : 1  (1 : 1) (1 : 0)
30/10/13, 11:30Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i - FC Seoul FT 1 : 0  (0 : 0) (1 : 0)
20/10/13, 07:00FC Seoul - Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i FT 0 : 2  (0 : 0) (0 : 2)
30/06/13, 10:00Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i - FC Seoul FT 2 : 0  (2 : 0) (0 : 0)
06/04/13, 09:00FC Seoul - Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i FT 2 : 2  (2 : 1) (0 : 1)
15/11/12, 12:00FC Seoul - Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i FT 3 : 1  (3 : 0) (0 : 1)

In the last ten matches Seoul has six times and only won twice.  At home, they have not beaten Ulsan since November of 2012.  Therefore, I would not say the statistics favor them.

However, Ulsan`s league form has been shit.  They have not won in 8 games.  This could be the optimal time for Seoul to finally win.  They have been much better since April, bar the AFC round of 16.

The players that Seoul must watch out for are Yang Dong-hyun, who is Ulsan's leading scorer with five goals, and Kim Shin-wook of course.  Kim Shin-wook has not had a great beginning this season, but he seems to be the second coming of Drogba any time he plays Seoul.  Also, former FC Seoul player Djeperov returns.  Last time the two teams played, he scored against them as well.

This match up feels similar to the Arsenal-Chelsea games.  Seoul always seems to be bullied by Ulsan's strength and outside of the occasional victory, Ulsan tends to dominate this fixture.  Therefore, based on the statistics and the fact that Seoul was dominated by Gamba Osaka over the two legs of the AFC Champion's League, I do not foresee them winning.

Ulsan will score, in the words of my Irish friend, a jammy goal in the first half that will require Seoul to chase the game.  From there, Ulsan will hit them on the counter at some point and the game will finish.

Prediction:  Seoul 0-2 Ulsan Hyundai.  However, I have been wrong with every prediction this season, so let's hope the trend continues.

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