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Jeonbuk Squeezing Through the League

Jeonbuk Motors FC has been league favorites to take home the title since the transfer window in January, coming off their third title in 2014. The southwestern team has been stacking young talent for the past few years and seemed to have zero competitors in their chance for their fourth title this year. Adding to their ever strong defense, Jeonbuk seemed to have had and endless amount of offensive weapons, including the league leading goal scorer Edu, who left the team and league over a month ago.  In 2015, with the likes of the all time leading goal scorer Dong-gook Lee, current team leading goal scorer Leonardo (Leo), Lee Jae Sung, Eninho (since departed), Kim Dong-Chan (fastest hat trick in the K-League) and now League Legend Luiz and Urko Vera, the team seems un stoppable. But why is it that Jeonbuk fails to score early and often with so many weapons?

In Jeonbuk’s last 5 games, they have been outscored 3 – 5, including 3 games where they went goalless ( vs Incheon, vs Gamba Osaka- Japan, at Pohang). In the last 5 league games that Jeonbuk has managed to score (goalless against Pohang and Incheon), they have scored an average of 10 goals. Yet it isn’t too impressive when you consider that two of those goals were a gift from the opposing team (own goals) and two were PKs, being questionable calls from the referee at that.

Furthermore Jeonbuk seems to not be able to net in the first half. Of the 6 goals from play, only one has been in the first half (20’ Chang-Hyun Lee @ Jeju United). Here is a list of those 10 goals in five games.

Seongnam v JB
28' (PK)
JB v Chunnam W 2-1
85', 90' (PK)
JB v Busan W 2-0
85'(OG), 89'
JB v Suwon W 2-1
82', 87
Jeju v JB
20’, 56’ 90+1’(OG)

There isn’t another team in the league that has the talent Jeonbuk does in front of the opposing net, both individually and as a team. The reason could be from the consistency of not changing their stance.

Jeonbuk approaches every game the same, and it is killing them. They have built their midfield up and over three years have gone from a long ball and down the wing passing team to more of a build up approach through the middle; without a doubt that would be only improve if Luiz would get a start for the team. However, ignoring that fact that their passing is better, the team is passing to the same strikers in the same formation against teams who have seen this for the last handful of years.

It would be ridiculous to think that you could wear a suit and tie in every situation; to church, to a business meeting, to the park, to play sports, to have a picnic. And the same has to be applied to their opponents. A change in formation or players will give  Jeonbuk a slight edge, opposed to the fact that every team knows they are coming in a single striker offense. It’s predictable and has become easier to defend. Not only is it true within the league, but obvious when Jeonbuk failed to score a single goal against a Japanese side in their home leg of the AFC quarter finals last week; even international competitors have been able to predict Jeonbuk Motors offense.

If you need more proof that the team plays a carbon copy game every match, look at the substitutions. In the last 10 games, with the exception for an injury, just like clockwork, substitutions come on between the 55th and 60th minute. It might seem minute, but the subs are always in the same position and they have no trend to the game play. 

How Will Jeonbuk Fair in the K-League and AFC

For as long as it can be remembered, Jeonbuk has floated between seven and ten points above Suwon. The league has 10 games left in the season, with Jeonbuk facing 4 of the 5 bottom teams, at the moment, before the split. Jeonbuk Suwon Bluewings, too, have an easy schedule, only having one team from the top of the table over their next 5 games (FC Seoul).

Being the only Korean side remaining in the AFC this year, Jeonbuk will have to score away at Gamab Osaka to advance. If the lack of offense wasn’t enough to tell you not to count on the Korean side, know that since 2010 Jeonbuk has only won a single match in Japan; a group stage match against Urawa Reds. And yes, all three goals were scored in the second half. 

1 comment

  1. Substitute Seoul for Jeonbuk and you have described my team as well, except without the winning.


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