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FC Seoul vs. Incheon United FC Part 2: Preview and Prediction

(from FCSeoul.com)
Tomorrow, the FA Cup final kicks off between FC Seoul and Incheon United FC.  Yesterday,  I briefly touched on my dislike for the city of Incheon and their fans.  I also compared how similar Incheon are to last year's cup winners, Seongnam.  Finally, I expressed my fears at how Seoul are going to lose yet again how unworthy of an ACL finalist Incheon would be.  Today, I will actually try and put a little thought into how I think the game will play out.

Line-up

FC Seoul 5-3-2 football formation

Goal Keeper: Unlike last year, I think Yu Sang-hun will get the nod as the starter this time out.  The last time Choi Yong-soo played his hunch and went with Kim Yong-dae as the starter, Seoul lost 3-0.  On the one hand, it would be a nice sentiment to hand him a start, but on the other, Seoul really do need to win this game.

By no means is he in the top of the league saving shots, but he is an upgrade over Kim.  He can get in trouble coming off his line, but I still prefer that sort of aggressiveness to Kim Yong-dae's passivity.  Also, he is the penalty stopper, having saved a PK against Incheon in a league game at the end of July.  

That being said, Incheon has a significant advantage over Seoul with regards to their keeper. Unlike Yu Sang-hun, Yoo Hyun is third in the league with having saved 75.63 shots.  Whether that is down to just opponents shooting more frequently on Incheon or having to deal with easier shots, statistically Yoo is better than Yu.  

Defense:  The defense was pretty solid last game against Jeonbuk, which was a welcome change from the Jeonnam and Seongnam game.  There were a couple of chances that Jeonbuk should have scored from, but on the whole it was one of the better games I have seen Seoul play defensively.  They were organized very well and it would have been an unfair result for Seoul to lose last week.

Lee Woong-hee, who I was quite critical of earlier, has been quite solid as of late.  He seems to have cut out the errors in positioning that resulted in him getting beaten by pacy wingers.  Granted, when Cha pushes forward and is unable to get back, it might be quite difficult to deal with the pressure on the break.  That being said, I like how Lee has been looking to break forward and join the attack.  

The mid-center back will most likely be Park Yong-woo.  After giving Kim Jin-kyu an extended run of games, Choi seems to have settled on Park Yong-woo as his favored man in the middle.  However, Park and Osmar will often switch in the middle of the game with Park becoming the DM/CM and Osmar becoming a CB.  

I feel as though Seoul are stronger when Osmar is the CB, as evidenced by his goal saving tackle in last weeks game against Jeonbuk.  Still, Park has played well in this role this season and it is nice for Seoul to have someone who can pass the ball out of the defense.  I think Kim Jin-kyu is more Gerrardesque with his balls over the top, but Park's distribution is solid as well.

As long as Kim Dong-woo decides to not try and emulate Messi by dribbling it out of trouble, Seoul should be okay on the left side of the defense.  Really though, I do not have much to say about Kim Dong-woo.  I think he is a slight upgrade over Kim Nam-chun, but the two are pretty much the same.

As with the keeper, I think Incheon has a slight advantage in the defense.  They do not score very much, having netted 33 goals in 35 games.  The do not concede much either, having given up 31 goals in 35 games (tied for second in the league with Seongnam).

Wing-backs: In the beginning of the year, many teams seemed to try and go at the left-side of Seoul's defense, especially when Ko Kwang-min or Sim Sang-min were the wing-backs.  This was fairly successful, especially when Suwon won 5-1 in April.  As the year has progressed though, Ko Kwang-min has become quite solid defensively.  He is still prone to the occasional mistake, but he has become one of Seoul's best players as of late.  

Cha Du-ri's time is coming to a close sadly.  Next week will be his last home game at Seoul.  At 35 years of age, he no longer has the legs to get up and down and he is also someone that other teams target.  As I mentioned before, when Cha pushes forward, it puts increased pressure on Lee Woong-hee to shut down attacks.  

However, I think Seoul's wing-backs are slightly better than Incheon's full backs.  I would say in many respects, since they provide Seoul with their width, they are the key players in attack.  

Midfield: Since August, the midfield has pretty much remained unchanged.  Osmar is the DM and Takahagi and Molina are the CMs.  Last week though, possibly as a reward for scoring a vital goal against Seongnam two weeks ago, Go Yo-han got the nod to start over Molina.  

Go Yo-han has not had the best of years.  He has played in a lot of games, but most of those have come as a sub.  His game against Jeonbuk was like a metaphor for his year.  He did well to get into good positions, but his final ball was lacking.  Go really should have scored in the first half.  

However, I think that Choi will stick with the same line-up he ran out against Jeonbuk.  Takahagi's fitness is pretty shit, having only played a full 90 minutes once (I think).  Generally, he is the first player taken off and unless Seoul are losing, I do not see that changing.  I expect that he will run out for an hour and be subbed off, most likely by Molina.  

Molina, for about four months, was a solid starter.  Yet, like Cha, at 35 the legs just are not there any more.  I think Choi will try and keep him fresh since extra time will most likely be on the cards.

In this area, I rate Seoul a bit higher.  Last time these two teams met up, Seoul dominated in mid-field and took the game to Incheon.  Granted, I think much of that was down to Incheon's decision to sit back in the first half and go for it in the second.  

Forwards:  Obviously, Adriano gets the start.  As Seoul's leading scorer and only ostensible goal threat, Incheon will probably strive to emulate Jeonbuk's plan of fouling marking.  I expect a long day of disappointing shrugs to emanate from Adriano's frame.  

The second forward is trickier to name.  Normally, that would be Park Chu-young, but since he is injured it is hard to say who will start.  Most likely, it will be Yun Il-lok since he has started the last two.  

Yun has not been terrible but he hasn't been great either.  Playing through the middle, holding the ball, looking for runners- these are not his strengths.  Going out wide, getting the ball at feet, and running at defenders is what he does best.  Unfortunately, Choi's system does not allow for that, so expect a lot of effort and a little reward should he get the start.  

However, if Yun doesn't start, then it might be Kim Hyun-sung.  Maybe Choi will want to play a little man-big man combination and if that is the case, then I could see Kim getting the nod.  Similar to Giroud, but much worse in front of goal, I hope this not the case. 

Finally, Sim Je-hyeok might get the nod to start.  Last time he started against Incheon, he was quite good.  He was subbed off after 45 minutes, but I thought he did alright in that game.    

Of course, expect to see super-sub Yun Jun-tae at some point, most likely in the 60th or 70th minute.   God forbid, if Choi is really desperate, he may even bring on Park Hee-seong.

This is the area I think that Seoul has the biggest advantage.  Some might rate Kevin Oris higher than Adriano, but I would disagree with that assessment.  Sure, it seems as though Adriano doesn't bring much to the attack at times, especially when the ball is in the air and it is a battle between him and a CB, but he scores goals. 

In thirteen games since he has signed with Seoul, he has played in twelve.  Of those twelve games he has played in, he has scored at least a goal in seven of them.  He has a total of nine goals in twelve games and even though three of them were from the penalty spot, he was responsible for Seoul winning two of them from the referee.

For the season, Seoul has scored 46 goals.  Since joining up with Seoul in August, the team has scored 20 goals in 12 games for an average of 1.7 goals a game.  Before he joined, in the 23 games that Seoul played, they only averaged 1.13 goals a game.

There are many factors contributing to this such as players gelling, the improved form of team, and scoring on set pieces, but his presence has made a difference.  They play with a bit more confidence and even though offensively it seems as though they still have long periods of indifference, Adriano at least give Seoul a hint that someone could score.  This why I would rate Seoul's attack higher.

Tactics:  I think Incheon's offensive tactic on Saturday will be to play a counterattacking style and look to hit Seoul on the break.  If they play speedy wingers, they will look to go at the CBs or play it through the middle to Kevin.  Expect to see Incheon spend the majority of time in their half for the first 45 minutes.

In the second half, they might try and break out a bit and score a goal.  I really think that Incheon will play for extra-time and hope to win it then like they have done against Jeju and Jeonnam.  By allowing the opponent to attack them and through frustration and fatigue, Incheon hopes to lift the cup.

As I detailed in my previous post, I really hope this does not happen.  That is why I am going to be optimistic and predict a Seoul win.  The first time Seoul won, it was from a defensive mistake.  The second time Seoul beat Incheon, it took a brilliant Molina goal and a PK save.  This time, I think Seoul has more than enough in the tank.  However, I expect it to be nail-biter.

Final Score:  FC Seoul 2-1 Incheon United FC

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