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AFC Recap: Adriano Knows Kung-fu

(from FCSeoul.com)
This game was not nearly as exciting as the Jiangsu-Jeonbuk game.  There was no censorship nor poor sportsmanship.  Instead, Seoul just took care of business.

Ten goals for Seoul in two games.  That is a phenomenal tally.  I chalked up the 6-0 win against Buriram as being one of a better team doing what it should.  Based on previous history, I thought the Thai Champions would put forth a competitive effort and when they did not, I was pleasantly surprised.  This game however, makes me start to believe that this Seoul team might have the makings of something special.

That being said, just as with the Thai champions, I expected more from the winners of the first division in the J-League.  Last year, they scored the most goals and conceded the fewest.  On paper, Sanfrecce Hiroshima seemed more than a match for Seoul.  The first half was a tense affair, knotted up at one apiece, but Seoul rolled over Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the second half with ease.  I will give a brief recap before moving on to any "analysis".

Again,  I missed the the first 15 minutes.  From what I hear, I did not miss much.  I was a bit disappointed, but it worked out since the computer system for the ticketing crashed and all of the fans got in for free.  I think that is what  happened.  I walked past security with little difficulty.  I feel somewhat bad that the Seoul's corporate benefactors did not make any money on the match, but on the other hand, it was nice to use the money that I would have spent on tickets to buy some beer.

I really could have used that beer because in the 25th minute, Sanfrecce Hiroshima went up 1-0 from a free kick.  Kazuhiko Chiba scored off of a header supplied by the left-winger Kohei Shimizu, but Osmar (5) probably should have done better job.  From watching the highlights, it looks like he was on the wrong side of Chiba.

Then again, he probably should have had more help.  Keeper Yoo Hyun (1) came out of the box to claim it and immediately realized the futility of this and immediately scrambled back.  Unfortunately, he ended up in no-man's land and could do nothing but watch the header weakly bounce into the net.  That being said, Osmar had a difficult first half.  He had some glaring errors- missed headers, errant passes, etc.

Seoul were a bit fortunate to draw even.  They equalized via a corner kick and poor defending by Hiroshima.  Dejan (9) jumped and missed, the ball deflected off of Kim Dong-woo (4), and it fell into the path of Kim Won-sik (15).  From there, it was a great low finish from Kim Won-sik and the score was tied at one apiece.  Really, you should watch the highlights.  Kim was cool and composed and he put it between the keeper's legs.  

Half-time beckoned and after that, it was a different game.  A Shin Jin-ho (8) free kick was diverted into the net by Adriano (11) in the 49th minute.   Then, from open play Seoul's fourth goal started with Ko Kwang-min (27) passing it to Dejan, who gave it back to Ko.  From there, Ko moved into the box and crossed it for a sliding Adriano to tap in.  It was just a damn good goal and not something that I have seen in the last two years.  Finally, the best goal of the day was Seoul's fourth.  It was a majestic play that started with Dejan passing the ball to Osmar.  Then, Osmar moved it quickly onto Shin Jin-ho, who had a brilliant back heel for Adriano to bang into the goal.   

Past History

A friend of mine that reads this has pointed out my negativity, which is fair enough.  My past two predictions have been draws for Seoul.  Instead, they have played scintillating football and dominated the competition.  That being said, I feel that it is somewhat justified based on past history.  First, let's look at the results of the two games between Buriram and FC Seoul in 2013.

March 12th, 2013:  Buriram United                     0-0             FC Seoul

May 1st, 2013:       FC Seoul                                  2-2             Buriram United
                               Jung Seung-young   (55')                            Ekkachai (56')
                               Kim Hyun-sung       (74')                            Theeraton (75')

Next, let's look at the two games against Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2014.

March 19th, 2014:  Sanfreece Hiroshima              2-1             FC Seoul
                                Takahagi (53')                                             Rafael Costa (60')
                                Shiotani (79')

April 1st, 2014:       FC Seoul                                  2-2             Sanfrecce Hiroshima
                                Yun Il-lok (53')                                           Notsuda (20')
                                Rafael Costa (94')                                       Hwang Seok-ho (70')

In none of the four prior fixtures did Seoul do as well as they have these past two.  Of course, they have different personnel and this team seems to be the best and most complete squad since 2012, but based on past history Seoul should not be doing this well.  So why are they?

Current Squad

Obviously it is the new players that have been brought in.  Dejan has been great since his return, scoring a goal and assisting on one in Thailand.  Yesterday, he did neither, but I still thought he played an important part in the victory.  His movement and demands for the ball have been something that has been lacking from Seoul's other forwards the last two years.

Likewise, he is a legend and the crowd really worships him.  It was great to hear "La-la, la-la-la, let's go Dejan" again.  I really missed that song.  I know that this is something that is not measurable and is often a cliche, but I do feel as though his presence makes the team better and energizes the crowd.  I dread what will happen to Seoul if he goes down for any length of time.

Another knock-on effect from Dejan's return has been Adriano's play.  He has seven goals in two games and is just unstoppable right now.  The manner in which he is scoring is phenomenal and it is hard to believe that he was plying his trade in the K-League Challenge two years ago.  Say what you want about Daejeon as a team, but their scouting department seems to do a good job of finding competent Brazilians.

His first goal (0:20) against Buriram United was magnificent.  Dejan did well to turn and split the defense with his through ball, but Adriano still had to cut in, beat a defender, and slot it past the keeper.  He made it look easy, but other than Yun Ju-tae, I am not sure any of the other forwards who have played for Seoul in the last two years would have scored that.  They would have either held the ball up to wait for support, been stymied by the defender, or had it blocked by the keeper.  In my opinion, I would say that goal was much more difficult than it looks, but I am just a blogger and not an expert.

His second goal (0:30) against Buriram United was even better.  The run and the cheeky lob over the keeper make it a contender for goal of the year.  None of the other forwards on Seoul in the last two years would have the audacity or wherewithal to execute something like that, let alone the cahones to try that.

His third goal (5:31) in yesterday's game against Sanfrecce Hiroshima was just as good as those two.  Unlike the first two, which were born from individual effort, the third was a byproduct of Shin Jin-ho's back-heel to release Adriano.  It was a great pass, but Adriano's movement to pounce on the ball and rocket it past keeper Takuto Hayashi was magnificent.  Even better though was how happy Osmar was after the goal.  It is great to see team spirit so high.

Last year, there were a lot of complaints about Adriano even though he fixed Seoul's problem with scoring goals.  Some complained about his work rate and what appeared to be lackluster efforts.  Still though, Adriano is always in the right place at the right time, as his first and second goals against Hiroshima demonstrate yesterday.

As I said above, one of the knock-on effects of Dejan's return is Adriano's play and I feel, again in my opinion, that Adriano is playing so much better because he has a competent partner.  Dejan, as I have previously mentioned, excels when playing with a second striker rather than on his own.  He is more than capable of playing up front alone, but does so much better when he has someone else that plays close to him.  So far, this partnership is paying great dividends.

However, by no means do I want to diminish the role of Shin Jin-ho.  He put in a Man of the Match performance yesterday, earning two assists and helping Seoul dominate the midfield in the second half.  I cannot, for the life of me, understand why Pohang let him go.

However, from what one of my friends told me, he has to do his military service in June.  Maybe that is why Pohang let him move to Seoul.  It will be difficult to replace him, but I think Choi Yong-soo will move Osmar up into the midfield and Ju Se-jong will take Shin Jin-ho's spot.

Lastly, Kim Won-sik had his second good game. He chipped in with a goal and as I said above, it was a cool finish.  He has been solid in the back with his defense and distribution.  The year he spent on loan at Incheon really paid off, but the game against Jeonbuk will be when we find out about him.

Conclusion

A 4-1 win against the Japanese Champion, who on paper appears very strong, is fantastic.  There is nothing to complain about except my inability to predict the outcome of any game.  If I were a Vegas handicapper, I would have had my knees broken.

Seoul have done exceedingly better than I have expected in their first two outings.  Their next game is the season opener against Jeonbuk.  The Jiangsu-Jeonbuk demonstrated some flaws in Jeonbuk's game:


  1. They have not decided on how best to use Kim Shin-wook.  Because of his size, the long ball game seems favorable.  I do not think that suits Jeonbuk's m.o. however.
  2. In my opinion, unless they play Eric Paartalu from the beginning, their midfield tandem is quite weak and prone to being over run by Seoul's striker and midfield trident of Shin Jin-ho, Takahagi, and Ju Se-jong.  
  3. They are really going to miss Kim Kee-hee this year.  Jeonbuk seem susceptible to quick counter-attacks and will have problems against strong FWs, in my opinion.  
Seoul have all of the momentum right now and look like they could realistically challenge Jeonbuk for the title, as I said in my preview.  If everything breaks for them, Seoul can finish first and with a bit of luck Jeonbuk will have the same problem that the Galacticos of Real Madrid have in the past and do currently- too much offense and glamour, not enough defense and grit.  So far, so good.  

Finally, if you go to the game against Sangju Sangmu on March 20th, check these guys out.  They have been alright to me every home match I have been to.  They are a good bunch to watch the game with.  




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