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Preview and Prediction: FC Seoul vs. Suwon FC

Seoul will play their fifth game in two weeks on Saturday.  That is a game every three or four days for Seoul and I think the grind is beginning to wear on them.  Their opponent is last year's K-League Challenge playoff winner, Suwon FC, and they have proven to be no soft touch this season.  Sitting in sixth place, with one win and three draws, they shown a resilience to pull out impressive results so far.

Suwon FC

Just as with the Gwangju FC preview, I find it difficult to make any immediate judgments.  From the highlights I have seen, Suwon FC seem a very solid team- organized defensively, counter well, etc.  I feel like Cho Deok-je is a capable manager and the team play hard for him.  He inspired them to in the playoffs last year to beat Seoul E-Land (the ending was a bit of a farce), Daeju FC, and Busan I'Park over two legs.  Therefore, they will provide stiff opposition for Seoul and I could see Suwon FC coming away with a point.

Looking at the statistics in their games against Jeonnam, Seongnam, Gwangju FC, Sangju Sangmu, and Ulsan their possession has been as low as 45% and as high as 55%.  At home, they average around 49% and on the road they average 50%.  In the five games they have played, they average 14.4 shots per game, with 6.6 being on target.

Based a cursory glance at these stats, I can say that Suwon FC do not appear to be overly defensive, choosing to eschew possession, but they do not seem to try and emulate Barcelona's slow build tiki-taka style either.  Instead, I think the way they play is in a direct manner, and that results in a lot of shots per game for them.

From briefly watching highlights of their games, 0-0 to Jeonnam, 1-1 to Seongnam, 2-1 to Gwangju FC, 1-1 to Sangju Sangmu, and 1-1 to Ulsan, a few things jump out.  First, they always set up in a 4-3-3 formation.  Maybe that is why they have proven difficult to score on since they are able to remain compact.  Second, the players are not afraid to shoot from distance, for example, from here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  Third, Suwon's keeper Park Hyung-soon is has great reflexes and seems to be a good shot stopper.  Finally, Park may do well stopping shots, but balls in the air seem to trouble him.

FC Seoul

I have written about Seoul's season and how great they have been.  I have also written about their luck and how fatigue might be starting to become a factor.  Really, I do not know what else to say without repeating myself at this point.

I expect the manager Choi Yong-soo to rotate his squad since Seoul play again on Wednesday.  It is against Buriram United in the AFC Champions League (ACL) and it is important match.  If Seoul win, they have the group wrapped up and can give their starters a break in the final ACL fixture, which will take place May 4th in Tokyo.  If they lose, then Seoul are in the shit and if they draw, like last time out, then they might need to get a good result in their final game in Japan to ensure they win their group.

This is why I think Choi will rotate his squad again on Saturday.  Also, this is why I think the draw against Shandong Luneng two weeks ago, while not a disaster, was a missed opportunity.  If Seoul had won that game, then they would have wrapped up their group and could rest their starters on Wednesday.  As I stated in my last recap, Choi has used ten players quite extensively.  Here is a chart of their minutes:

Player (Pos)
Before Jeonnam (%)
After Gwangju (%)
Osmar (CB)
630/630 (100%)
810/810 (100%)
Ko Kwang-min (WB)
630/630 (100%)
720/810 (89%)
Kim Won-sik (CB)
630/630 (100%)
741/810 (91%)
Ju Se-jong (DM)
603/630 (96%)
783/810 (97%)
Takahagi (CM)
593/630 (94%)
718/810 (89%)
Go Yo-han (WB)
593/630 (94%)
653/810 (81%)
Dejan (FW)
588/630 (93%)
706/810 (87%)
Shin Jin-ho (CM)
585/630 (93%)
686/810 (85%)
Adriano (FW)
540/630 (86%)
676/810 (83%)
Kim Dong-woo (CB)
539/630 (86%)
629/810 (78%)
Park Yong-woo
203/630 (32%)
462/810 (57%)
Park Chu-young (FW)
160/630 (25%)
259/810 (32%)
Lee Seok-hyun (CM)
42/630 (7%)
165/810 (20%)
Yun Ju-tae (FW)
5/630 (1%)
12/810 (1%)

I did not see the second half of the Gwangju game originally, but I did watch a bit of the video afterwards.  My friend commented that Dejan looked knackered and I tend to agree with him.  At 34 years of age, he is not young for a footballer and the distance he runs is going to catch up to him.  I would like to see him get a rest and maybe Yun Ju-tae get a start.  Yun was great last year, scoring 13 goals, many of them late in the season.  Who can forget his hat trick against the Suwon Bluewings last year?  Watch the GIFs here, here, here, and here (my favorite).

Likewise, I would like to see Lee Seok-hyun get another start and maybe Park Yong-woo slot in as the DM for Ju Se-jong.  With the exception of Osmar, he has played the most minutes and in the last two fixtures, was the only member who played the majority of the minutes to see an actual increase in his percentage of minutes played.  Here is my ideal starting lineup, which of course will not happen.

(from footballuser.com)
I chose this lineup to feature against Gwangju and I hope that Choi will go this way against Suwon FC.  Park Chu-young has scored three goals in his two starts and Dejan could use a rest.  Adriano will probably start since he was subbed out after 45 minutes on Wednesday, but I would like to see Yun Ju-tae get the nod and if not as a starter, at least as a super sub with significant minutes.  I think Ju Se-jong needs a break, so Park Yong-woo or even Osmar can move up and play as the DM.  They will lose Ju's vision, but Seoul need a result against Buriram and the defense is starting to make mistakes.  I think some of these mistakes are down to fatigue.  Finally, it would not surprise me if Kim Chi-woo gets the nod as the left wing-back, but after playing for 180 minutes over the last week, I think he will get a rest.  He might feature against Buriram on Wednesday instead.

I am not going to speculate on what will happen Saturday.  I could see Seoul winning this game, but then again I could see Suwon FC being difficult to break down and stealing a point or all three.  Seoul have had a bit of luck these last two contests and unfortunately, luck does not last forever.

I have predicted that Seoul would win their last five games and I have gotten four right.  I think this time, after having played five times in two weeks, that fatigue will catch up to Seoul.  Suwon FC have not won a lot, but they seem to be specialist at getting a 1-1 draw, so that is how the contest will end.

Final Score:  FC Seoul 1-1 Suwon FC

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