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FC Seoul vs Pohang Steelers FA Cup Preview

Tavern of the Taeguk WarriorsTim Lee continues our FA Cup coverage by asking a few questions about the FC Seoul upcoming match against the Pohang Steelers and their overall chances in the tournament.

He Asks, I Answer.

Tim Lee: FC Seoul heartbreakingly dropped the Korean FA Cup at home against Seongnam last season. Do you think their defeat there has made avenging that defeat and winning the tournament this year a priority? In other words, do you think FC Seoul views a victory in this tournament as necessary to qualifying for the Asian Champions League?

I don't think losing to Seongnam last year has made Seoul view winning this tourney as a priority.  Of course, they should have won and the game should have never went to penalties, but in the end Seoul qualified to play in the AFC Champion's League, so Choi Yong-soo achieved what he wanted.  That being said, I think he is desperate to win this time out, but for a different reason than revenge.

This, I believe, is because of their league position and the lack of consistency Seoul has displayed this year.  I am sure that has made Choi view winning the FA Cup as his best means to qualify for next year's Asian Champion's League, especially after losing against Pohang two weeks ago.  It is too tight at the top and since winning the FA Cup means automatic qualification, I think he will go all out to win tomorrow.

TLDo you expect that Choi Yong-soo will send out his first team? 

I think he will switch things up a bit from Saturday's loss against Pohang two weeks ago.  In that game, they played with three in the back, but Seoul was still bossed around by Pohang's midfield.  Playing with three in the back did not stop Pohang from scoring three goals. 

Therefore,I believe that he will switch his formation and start Everton, Yun Il-lok, and Molina.  With Koh Myong-jin off to Al Rayyan SC, this opens up a spot for Molina to be the play maker while Osmar is the midfield destroyer and Go Yo-han plays as a shuttler.  If Choi is losing, he might even throw on Yojiro Takahagi to try and catch up.  

Of course, that being said, it would not surprise me if he decided to go really defensive and puts out a 6-4-0 formation.  

TL:  An odd coincidence - FC Seoul will be playing Pohang, the team they lost to 3-1 on the latest K League matchday. What does FC Seoul need to do differently to prevail this time?

Hmm- if I knew that I would message Choi and tell him, because I do not think he does either.  Seoul was not terrible and had stretches of the game were they played well, but Pohang's triangles tore their midfield and defense to shreds.  Pohang's first two goals came from their passing, so the defense and midfield need to be aware of this and remain compact.

I hate to say this, but maybe playing with a bit of cynicism is how Seoul can win this match.  I wouldn't be surprised to see some "tactical" fouling.  Pohang, based on the two games I have seen them play against Seoul, is clearly the better team attacking wise.  That being said, they leak goals, so if Seoul can hit them on the counter.  This is one of the reasons I hope Yun Il-lok gets the start.

(from kleague.com)

TL:  Key player in this match?

Kim Seung-dae of Pohang will be the key player.  He has destroyed Seoul in both of their match-ups this year.  For whatever reason, the defense cannot track his movement and he seems to always cause them problems.  

In the first game at Pohang, he scored both goals in their 2-1 win.  Two weeks ago in Seoul, his cross led to the first goal for Pohang.  He created the first goal by sprinting past Lee Woong-hee and forcing Kim Dong-woo, the left CB in the back three, to pick up his run.  This led to chaos in the back and shit-show defending, thereby ending up as an easy tap in for Park Sung-ho.

TL:  Finally, score prediction?

Last year, when the two teams met up in the FA Cup, it finished 2-2 and Seoul won on penalties.  Seoul also knocked them out of the AFC Champion's League and the 2015 AFC spot by finishing third on goal differential, so I feel as though Pohang has a chip on their shoulder when it comes to Seoul.  It will be a tough game and Pohang has been the better team in the last two contests, so they will probably dominate, but Choi has found a way to rally his team in the past.  I think he will do it again.  At first I was going to predict a penalty shootout win, but that would be a terrible way to decide a contest.  Instead, I will predict some last minute joy for Seoul.  

Final score: Seoul 2-1 Pohang

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