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Writers Chat: Jeonbuk vs. FC Seoul Preview

League Number one and number four square off in a late season clash with some serious title implications. FC Seoul contributor John Emanuelson and Jeonbuk contributor Lex discuss the finer points of the weekend matchup.

I Ask, He Answers

John Emanuelson: When these two teams met last time, Seoul came away winners at 2-1.  I would say that was unexpected.  Considering that Jeonbuk has led the league from start to finish, what happened? 

Lex: Am I too harsh on my own team to say that we aren’t as dominate as we could be or as people expect from us? Seoul knows how to play us and their players always step up. The excitement of the game relies on if Jeonbuk wants to put up a fight or not.

JE: Lee Dong-gook- how is he still doing it?  Does the team rely too much on him?  

L: Is he reliable? Yes. Do we rely on him too much? Yes. Is any striker, regardless of the name, that plays at one top position all year long being asked too much of to score every game? Without a doubt. No one can do that.

In the case that he doesn’t net a goal, there isn’t much more than free kicks and Leo down the wing. Our offense goes through a one man on top which means we will always aim for that striker but we still see those other players breaking out and making runs or plays on their own.

JE: Any thoughts on Edu's departure?  How about the new boy Urko Vera?

L: That's business. Edu is a good reason we got to where we are. Take away even half of the goals he scored and we would be neck in neck with Suwon. Thankful he did what he did in the league and hope Chinese second division is treating him well.

Urko looks promising and I always like new talent to the league as they are hungry for success and play a 'foreign' style of football (not to say that Korean style footy doesn't mean taking risk, but as new guys come in with their energy, they are exciting to watch).

JE: Jeonbuk's form has not been great recently.  They have only won twice in the last five games.  To defeat Busan, Suwon, and Jeonnam, they had to score goals in the last ten minutes.  What seems to be the problem as of late?

L: Some of our players are tired. A not so well known secret is that the team stays in their glorious club house more than any other team. The players have dubbed it boot camp. They'll be in camp from Monday before the midweek game and then will go back to camp after the Ulsan game.  They will be missing their families and freedom before the Seoul game and then they will get shipped out to Japan that night for the AFC game. I would say Jeonbuk has a lot of mental instabilities as they go through the season.

JE: One of those wins was against the aforementioned Jeonnam, the result of what appeared to be a dodgy penalty.  Do you think it was a penalty or just an epic collapse by Jeonnam?  

L: Sorry, for a second I thought you were talking about our dodgy penalty call last week at Seongnam. Can I say no comment?

JE: In your article "Jeonbuk Squeezing Through the League", you wrote that "Jeonbuk approaches every game the same, and it is killing them".  You also mentioned the predictable substitution patterns.  This might be sacrilegious, but is it time for coach Choi Kang-hee to go?

L: No it isn’t and won't be as long as he is winning titles. We are 7 years running in the AFC, have won more league titles in recent tears than any teams, have made it to the AFC and FA Cup final in the same time. I would imagine he could stay for 2 or 3 years without winning a trophy. Even if I’m not the biggest fan of all the tactics, he has turned the club around since the AFC title

Prediction: Jeonbuk 1- 1 Seoul

He asks, I answer

Lex: Seoul had made a quick climb up the ladder. How will the remaining 5 games before the split play out for them? 

John Emanuelson: This month, or Shitember as I am going to call it, looks to be a tough one. Jeonbuk, Suwon, Seongnam, Gwangju, and Jeonnam are the teams they have to play.  Other than Gwanju, all of them are either in the top six or within striking distance.  Hell, even Gwangju will be difficult.

I think that Seoul still will finish in the top six, but losing to Jeju last time out is really going to hurt. Pohang has an easier finish than Seoul.  They play Seongnam at home and then their four remaining opponents are Jeju, Daejeon, and Busan.  I feel as though Pohang will be sitting securely in the third spot after October 4th.

L: How is Seoul going to find its way through Jeonbuk’s defense this time?

JE: I am sure Choi will set out with a plan that is a tactical masterpiece involving classic counter-attacking football, but really, it will just involve finding Adriano.  He is the man of the moment, having scored in all but one game he has suited up for with Seoul.  I can’t imagine it being any different for this game.

L: Seoul has no players called to international duty; will this be a deciding factor? 

JE: I don’t really think so.  Other than Lee Jae-sung, no other Jeonbuk player was on the field Tuesday.  I think the deciding factor will be how serious Jeonbuk take Seoul.  If they think they are going to win with ease, then Seoul will probably walk away with a point or three.  If they take them serious and score the first goal, I can’t see Seoul coming back.

In my humble, uninformed, layman’s opinion, I think Seoul will have to play much quicker with the ball than they normally do.  Players will have to make runs and the passing will have to be faster. None of this sideways and backwards shit that is the norm when it comes to Seoul’s attack will be acceptable.

L: What’s the atmosphere like in Jeonju for away supporters? Especially for a supporting group that travels well like Seoul? 

JE: I have only been one time, but I would say the atmosphere was great.  Everybody was pretty friendly and no one was a dick to me because I was wearing the wrong colors.  Also, I am always amazed how many Jeonbuk fans travel to Seoul.  They help make it a great atmosphere when the teams play in Seoul.

Unfortunately, the game I witnessed was not great since it finished 0-0.  On the plus side though, I did get to meet Adi, or should I say, I stammered a hello to him.  The only complaint I would have would be about the size of the beer cans.  They should sell the tall boys, not the tiny ones.

Compared to Incheon, the atmosphere and hospitality in Jeonju is so much better.  People who work the gate at Sangui are more intrusive and less friendly than TSA agents in American airports.  It is too bad because it is a really great stadium to see a game.

The best though, which Jeonju can’t match is Suwon’s crowd.  Of course, that is the derby, so I suppose that is why it is always filled out.  I may hate the chicken fuckers but I will give respect to their fans.

L: Be honest- who has better food? Seoul or Jeonbuk? :)

JE: Based on my one dining experience at a restaurant near the bus terminal, I would have to say Seoul.  The bibimbap I had was adequate, but the place I live near in Ilsan is just as good and a hell of a lot closer.  You guys have the better soccer team, but we have the better cuisine easily.

Prediction: Jeonbuk 1-0 Seoul on a dubious PK in the 88th minute.

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