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playoffs

Pohang Steelers vs. FC Seoul: Preview and Prediction

(From footballist.co.kr)
In years past, the last week had a bit of excitement.  For example, in 2013, Pohang scored a goal in the final minute against Ulsan to steal the title from them.  In 2014, Pohang lost to Suwon at home and Seoul beat Jeju in the final minute on the road to steal the last ACL spot.  Unfortunately, this final week of the season feels rather anticlimactic.  

Jeonbuk are champions.  Suwon, Pohang, and FC Seoul have wrapped up the other three ACL spots.  Busan are in the relegation playoff.  Daejeon are the team that is automatically relegated.  Other than pride and league position, what is their to play for?

Obviously, Pohang is playing for pride.  Their coach, Hwang Sun-hong, is leaving at the end of the year.  Therefore, I am sure that the players of Pohang will want to give their coach a proper sending off by winning his last match.  Even better, if they can do it against FC Seoul since they would derive a measure of satisfaction because of the following:
  1. FC Seoul knocked Pohang out of the FA Cup in 2014
  2. FC Seoul knocked Pohang out of the FA Cup in 2015
  3. FC Seoul knocked Pohang out of the AFC Champion's League in 2014
  4. FC Seoul stole the final champion's league spot from Pohang in the last week of the season in 2014
Seoul, on the other hand, can finish in third again if they win on Sunday.  If Suwon loses to Jeonbuk, a decent possibility, they can leap frog them for second place.  Considering how shit most of the season has been, finishing in second would be quite an accomplishment for Choi Yong-soo and his men.

However, based on last week's contest against Jeju United, I am not expecting much from Seoul this weekend out.  In many ways, it embodied everything about Seoul this season.  Seoul had quite a bit of the ball, controlled the game, and rarely felt threaten.  Unfortunately, they were not very threatening with the ball either, passing it around quite a bit, but with no penetration.  I feel as though a draw was a fair result for both teams.

For the first 20 minutes the game was great.  Jeju scored off a FK in the 7th minute, which I missed because I was cleaning my bathroom (it needed it).  I still cannot decide if it was a great goal or terrible defending.  It is probably a little bit of both but leaning more towards the latter.  I am sure that someone should have probably went out and tried to make more of an effort to close down Kwon Soon-hyung rather than just letting him have a free shot at goal.

(From FC Seoul's FB page)
Seoul's goal in the 19th minute though was quite good.  It was a ball over the top by Molina to Yun Il-lok, who did well to knock it down, for Takahagi to run onto and strike sweetly.  It really was a magnificent goal.  I missed a good bit of the build up because I had just finished cleaning my bathroom at that point, but still, what a great goal.

The match was living up to my expectations and the 3-3 scoreline that I had predicted seemed like a foregone conclusion.  Sadly, the match stalled out into a stalemate as neither side could find a break through.  As I said, Seoul controlled the tempo of the match and felt rarely threatened, but Jeju still had the two best chances to score and their players probably should have the ball in the back of the net from the crosses provided.

That is why I am not expecting much from this game.  I really have no idea what Choi Yong-soo will do this game.  Every time I make a prediction, he does the opposite.  I think it is to spite me.  It would not surprise me if he lines the team up in 7-2-1 formation or opts to go offensive and switches to a 1-7-2 formation.  However, here will be the starting line-up:

FC Seoul 3-5-2 football formation

Here is my prediction:

FC Seoul 5-3-2 football formation

I think Pohang will want to win it more for their manager, but I think Seoul will do enough to keep it close.  I am not sure what the final score is, but I am going to say Pohang win it.  It will be a sad way to end the season, but all things considered, these last two months have been awesome for Seoul.  Choi Yong-soo has said the priority is to sign a right back and central midfield (h/t @RealSteveScores).  If they can do that and hang onto Osmar and Adriano, I see no reason why Seoul cannot challenge for the title and maybe even win the damn thing.

Final Score: Pohang 3-1 FC Seoul


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