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Writers Chat: Jeonnam v Daejeon Preview

Daejeon writer Paul Neat and I got together to discuss the finer points of this weekend's upcoming match between Daejeon Citizen and Jeonnam Dragons. Does Daejeon have what it takes to stay in the K-League Classic for more than one season? What will it take to get the Dragons above mid-table status? Who's scoring a half goal for Daejeon this weekend? Read on to find out.

I Ask, He Answers:

Ryan Walters: This is Daejeon’s first season back up in the Classic since 2013, how do you see their chances of staying up?

Paul Neat: It will take a small miracle for Daejeon to stay up. The team looked like complete strangers for the first few matches, which is odd considering that they all live together in a big club house. In fairness things have improved a bit since then. It is a case of getting the ball to Adriano, he knows where the back of the net is.

RW: The FA Cup has started off well for Citizen with a win against Gwangju, and until recent years has been a good tournament for them. How do you see this year panning out?

PN: A good cup run could do the team the world of good, boost their confidence and give themselves a break from the bread and butter of the league. If Citizen can get a favourable draw in the 5th round then who knows. Look at Seongnam last year, they were struggling at the wrong end of the table but performed magnificently in the FA Cup. That's the model Daejeon should be looking to emulate. Who knows, there could be a Daejeon derby with Daejeon Korail also being in the hat for the 5th round.

RW: It’s been a rough start to the season for Daejeon, what’s been the biggest reason?

PN: It has, I went down to the first game against Busan and, although it was just 1-0, it could and should have been about five or six. And it would have been if it wasn't for the woodwork coming to Daejeon's rescue on several occasions. We have an extremely small budget and have spent most of it on Adriano's new contract. Thus, we're not left with much to play with. We lost a few key players in the winter break, notable Jeong Seok Min who is now donning the yellow or Jeonnam.

RW: There has been zero joy at home for Citizen as they’ve yet to pick up a win in their friendly confines. The side effects of a deal with the devil to be promoted for 2015 or something more sinister?

PN: It seems to be taking a bit of time for things to click. And, quite simply, they haven't been ruthless enough in front of goal. There were a few chances that went begging in their last home game against Incheon. What I have noticed with Daejeon is that wins can often come in flurries. If they can get a a home win then I think a few more will soon follow.

RW: They finally got the monkey off their back with a shock road win in Suwon, was that a one off or something the team can build on? What went right in that game?

PN: It indeed was a shock, what a great result that was. I don't think anyone would have predicted a Daejeon win, especially after Suwon's 5-1 demolition of FC Seoul just prior to that game.

RW: Daejeon’s yet to hold a clean sheet this year, what’s been the biggest cause for the leaks?

PN: The first few games I believe was down to their new goalkeeper who looks suspect, to say the least. Also, an uncharacteristically poor showing from club captain Yoon Weon-Il at Jeju away didn't help either. Continuity is key and Daejeon have lacked it thus far.

RW: In spite of a tough start to the season, Adriano is currently one goal away from tying the league lead. What’s been going so right with him?

PN: This season will be a big test for Adriano. He took a massive risk re-signing for Daejeon because he had plenty of offers to go elsewhere at the end of the last season when his stock was high. If he fails to reproduce anywhere near the kind of form we saw from him last season, it could prove costly for him. If Adriano is on the pitch there is always a chance he will score. He's alert and has got enough pace and trickery to steal half a yard.

RW: For this weekend, hopefully something will give for our fair teams. Jeonnam’s averaging a meager 1 goal scored per game, while Daejeon’s averaging .5 goals per game. Do you see either team having a breakthrough and who will score Daejeon’s half-goal on Sunday?

PN: Well, if Adriano is fit then it will be him, if anyone at all. He was subbed at half time against Incheon with an injury but I think it was merely as a precaution.

Predicted Lineup
I think it will be the same line up as from Sunday (see link ), Kim Chan-Hee may come in to replace Seo Myung-Won, though.

Predicted Score: 2-0 to Jeonnam

He Asks, I Answer:

PN: Jeonnam have been a comfortable, mid-table K League team for a while now, what do you think it would take for them to make that next step?

RW: A creative striker. Ristić has been decent up top, but he's more of a target and/or poaching striker. He's had some chances I think he should've buried, but quite often the team wants to lob it up to him for possession and that's just not his game. Ahn Young Woo is quite young and the team seems to have hope he'll come into his own this year, but I'm not sold on it. A summer transfer signing of a striker or creative CAM might just push the Dragons into the next level.

PN: What kind of football have the Dragon’s been playing thus far? There’s been a lack of goals but have they been trying to get the ball down and play?

RW: It's really depended on the game. Most of the time they're playing a defense-first style of football that relies on counter attacks and burying the few chances that are created from that. They've done quite well at retaining possession, but don't seem to know what to do with it when they get into the final third. The defense has been quite staunch most of the time... but there have been lapses. Namely the road games in Pohang and this past weekend's debacle in Gwangju. They're still below the league average for goals conceded per game, but in those two matches specifically they simply forgot to show up. Kim Dong Cheol usually does a good job martialing the backline, but in the games they've allowed more than 2 goals it's been a combination of lack of organization and poor play from the keeper.

PN: How do you think Jeonnam will do this season? What’s a realistic target?

RW: They really shouldn't have any issues being in the top half when the league splits into the Championship and Relegation rounds. They barely missed out on it last season and shouldn't this year. Their home win against Jeonbuk and draw against Suwon prove they can compete on their day, but they just haven't been able to put it together consistently enough. I don't think they (or any other team really) has a hope of catching Jeonbuk, but they should be aiming for a top 4 finish.

PN: Jeong Seok-Min was pivotal in Daejeon’s promotion winning side last year, how has he been doing thus far?

RW: He only has four appearances thus far, so it's a bit hard to tell. He's had some nice combo plays to help get the ball up field (which ain't nothin on this team), but hasn't found his way onto the scoresheet yet. Hoping to see a bit more of him in the coming games.

PN: If there as one thing that you could change about the system Jeonnam play, what tweaks would you make? 

RW: More possession in the opposing team's half. Like I said, they're doing a great job of getting the ball and holding it, but it's difficult for them to maintain it beyond the midfield. A lot of times they like to use their speed up the wings and lob something into the middle in hopes of Ristić getting a head on it. It's not the worst strategy, but it cuts out any opportunity for their midfield to shine. And for a team that often plays a 4-2-3-1 the majority of that offensive creativity is going to need to come from the midfield. If they were to slow down a bit in the opposing half and pass it around to create chances, not only would they get some more shots on goal, but they might get some cohesion going that will help the midfield gel.

Predicted Lineup
With Lee Jong Ho still out, I'm thinking they'll stick with a 4-2-3-1 in an attempt to spark the offense with three midfielders trying to create. After being a proper poacher last week to net the Dragons first goal, Kim Young Wook will have earned himself the start. And I keep calling for a Leandro Lima start... maybe this is the week? Probably not though.

Predicted Score: 2-1 to Jeonnam

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