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Preview: Sangju Sangmu vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Ko moo-yeol celebrates Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors' third goal against FC Tokyo midweek.  (Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)
Ko moo-yeol celebrates Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors' third goal against FC Tokyo midweek.
(Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)
Returning from Japan after an ACL performance worthy of their K-League Champions badge, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors are on the road again this weekend, away to a recently promoted Sangju Sangmu.

Jeonbuk raised a few eyebrows in Tokyo. While it may not have been a goal fest a la FC Seoul, the professionalism they went about their task was of the calibre expected of a team with the last two league titles under their belt. The defensive was impressively solid, restricting all FC Tokyo's shots to the "Off Target" column. Furthermore, the pace at which Jeonbuk countered when chances were eventually presented to them was rapid. If it were not for some questionable finishing, the scoreline would have been higher than 3-0. Overall, the team were faced with a must-win game, and went about it completely the correct way. Choi Kang-hee was spot on with his selection and tactics, and it does not come easy for me to say that.

Which brings us to this weekend's round of fixtures. The Jeonbuk manager unusually decided to only make two personnel changes in FC Tokyo to that which had won dramatically against Seongnam FC on the Saturday prior. With a week off after this game, you would be tempted to keep the winning nucleus of this team intact to ensure all three points and allow for some consistency to develop.

Hopefully, this will be the case. However, given Choi's track record for squad rotation, and with important games on the horizon, there may again be a few line-up alterations. With Kim Bo-kyung in a rich vein of form, you would not wish to drop him. Saying that though, he has not long returned from a month lay-off and has now started the last four games, playing ninety minutes in the last three. Given his increasing importance to the squad, it would not surprise me if he is selected for the bench on this outing, most likely to be replaced by Luiz who sat out in Tokyo.

Given it has been ten days since his last start, we may also see a return for Kim Shin-wook to the line-up. He has not been having the best of times recently, constantly upstaged by the man he was possibly bought to replace; Lee Dong-gook. The manager may feel that a game against Sangju could provide the perfect opportunity to break his barren run in front of goal. The towering striker has not scored since his winner in the league opener to FC Seoul.

The only other change I could potentially envisage is the inclusion of Ko Moo-yeol for Lopes. Whilst the former did score the third against FC Tokyo, Lopes played well against both Seongnam FC and FC Tokyo. It would therefore be strange to drop him for this game, but the manager may wish to rest him.

I do also feel Erik Paartalu could potentially find his way back into the match day squad for this game, maybe featuring amongst the substitutes. The ex-Melbourne City midfielder has not been in the manager's plans since being removed at half time in Vietnam when Jeonbuk lost 3-2 to Becamex Binh Duong. Perhaps it may not have been his best game for Motors, but to exile him and arguably make him the scapegoat does seem harsh on Choi Kang-hee's part. There were, after all, many players who cannot say they played to their best in that particular game.

Overall, the manager should be careful not to damage this winning formula he has found. Jeonbuk only won away for the first time this year on Wednesday night, they therefore should not underestimate their opponents going into this clash.

Sangju Sangmu

Sangju Sangmu FC celebrate their 2-0 win over Pohang Steelers last weekend  (Photo Credit: Sangju Sangmu FC Official Twitter Page)
Sangju Sangmu FC celebrate their 2-0 win over Pohang Steelers last weekend
(Photo Credit: Sangju Sangmu FC Official Twitter Page)
It has been a mixed start for the newly promoted military team. After claiming an impressive scalp in their opening fixture, a convincing 2-0 victory over Ulsan, they have only picked up four points since, with three of these coming in yet another impressive 2-0 victory over a struggling Pohang side.

The military club will not yet be able to call upon their latest recruits such as FC Seoul's Shin Jin-ho, who are set to first complete their five weeks basic military training before being eligible to play. They will look to some promising talent within their ranks however to pose a threat to the K-League champions.

Sangju have managed to find the net eight times this year, the same as Jeonbuk, and on each occasion it has been a different name on the scoresheet. Of these names, there is midfielder Kim Seong-jun, who is one of two team members to feature in all six games this season. Kim was a regular in the match day squad at Seongnam last season, also making 21 starting line-ups throughout the year. While he did not feature too much in 2014, going on loan to Cerezo Osaka, he was also a regular in Seongnam's 2012 and 2013 campaigns.

Defender Yong Lee has also started every game this campaign, as well of all of their promotion winning season last year. The 29 year-old is among the oldest recruits in the squad, plying his trade at an AFC-winning Ulsan for his whole career before receiving the call up for national service. The wealth of experience and eighteen national team caps he brings to the squad was vital in Sangju's Challenge title win last season, and the military team will hope it can continue to be in what is sure to be a tricky season for them.

Comparably speaking, when Sangju faced Jeonbuk's fellow title competitor FC Seoul in their second fixture, they folded quite spectacularly, setting up to defend and ultimately losing 4-0. They later fell to Suwon Bluewings 2-1 before only managing a draw against other promotees Suwon FC.

The 2-0 win over Pohang Steelers saw them get back on track, providing them with four points of breathing space over the bottom two. This is not the Pohang team of previous years gone though, with now only six points on the board, injuries to key stars and even out of the Champions League.

Still, Sangju can only beat who is put in front of them and they took their opportunity. Lining up in the often used 4-1-4-1 formation,with Park Gi-dong spearheading the attack, Sangju went about putting Pohang to task. A Park Sun-jo own goal in the first minute opened the scoring before an ex-Pohang man Shin Young-jun doubled the lead on the stroke of half time. Sangju also had a penalty when Kim Seong-jun was pulled down in the box. They missed the subsequent spot kick, but arguably the Pohang keeper had come quite a way forward off his line when it was struck. In fairness, the referee should have called for it to be retaken.

Their defensive frailties, as evidenced against Seoul and Suwon Bluewings, did threaten to rear their ugly head though when a through ball to Pohang's Moon Chang-jin found the attacking midfielder in space behind most of the defensive line, yet still played onside. The 22 year old's shot bounced under the keeper, losing its pace, with the keeper managing to recover and clear it before it reached the goal line.

Overall though, Pohang were comfortably beaten. Sangju often broke with pace and looked particularly dangerous down either wing, opting to take the ball to line and cut it back in behind the Pohang defence. A similar attacking display against Jeonbuk could see them in with a chance of causing an upset.

Predictions

It will depend which Jeonbuk decide to turn up against Sangju. Something similar in terms of style, shape and selection to that of the FC Tokyo and Seongnam games should prove more than enough to record their first league away win of the year. While the manager may use this as an opportunity to rest key players with bigger games on the horizon, I hope he can keep his changes to a minimum to allow Jeonbuk to build up some consistency in their play.

Given that Sangju struggled greatly with FC Seoul and Suwon, before defeating an ACL participant in Pohang last weekend, I expect them also to have a difficult time with keeping the champions under control due to the gap in quality of their individual talent. They will not make it easy for Motors though, but if Jeonbuk's defensive line can repeat their Tokyo performance, then I think they will come through unscathed.

Predicted Score: Sangju Sangmu 0-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

4 comments

  1. Jeonbuk should win,but I think this is the best military team in a long time. That being said, I still think the will be relegated. Against Seoul, I think Sangju psyched themselves out. Their plan in theory wasn't bad, but conceding in the first five minutes, shot it to hell. Same will happen if Jeonbuk score early I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was quietly impressed with their latest game, and they do find a way of scoring in most matches, excluding Seoul

      I don't know about the relegation prediction, especially with the likes of Shin Jin-Ho heading their way. I also think that currently there's worse teams in the league who, if they can't turn their form around, will more likely go down. They will probably be in contention though. It's a long way to go yet.

      Delete
  2. Jeonbuk should win,but I think this is the best military team in a long time. That being said, I still think the will be relegated. Against Seoul, I think Sangju psyched themselves out. Their plan in theory wasn't bad, but conceding in the first five minutes, shot it to hell. Same will happen if Jeonbuk score early I think.

    ReplyDelete
  3. what a fucking horrible league..just 6 games and every round there are 3 to 4 draws. horse shit

    ReplyDelete

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