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Recap: Jeonnam Dragons 1-2 FC Seoul

The Dragons remained winless on the season after losing a heartbreaker in the 93rd to a controversial penalty kick drawn by FC Seoul's Kim Chi-woo fantastic acting skills. Was the call justified? Read on to hear my two cents and the considerable amount of Good to come out of this match as well as plenty of Bad and Ugly.

The Good

Vedran Jugović: Finally moved into the center of the pitch, Jugović showed why he should be starting every game there. Calm and collected on the ball, a great facilitator, and capable of taking on the defense when necessary. Highlights on the day were his 10th minute run into the box past two defenders after muscling a third off the ball, and a lovely pass to set up the lone goal.

Stevo off the bench: I wasn't exactly sure how to feel about this at first, but I'd have to admit it's one of manager Noh Sang-rae's better ideas of late. Stevo's been close, but hasn't yet bagged his first of the season and going the full 90 seems a bit of a struggle for the 33-year-old, so starting the younger and faster Cho Suk-jae in his place made a lot of sense. This allowed Stevo to enter the game as an impact sub in the 66th minute and try to put his mark on the match with much fresher legs than usual.

Substitutions: Maybe the man reads this site a little more than I would've expected, but Noh Sang-rae finally turned it around and made some intelligent substitutions this week. Not only was Stevo off the bench a wise choice, but Noh actually made a like-for-like swap with two forwards (Stevo and Bae Chun-suk) replacing two forwards (Cho Suk-jae and Ahn Yong-woo). Add in Ko Tae-won replacing the injured Hong Jin-gi and you have a 3-for-3 day on subs. Obviously like for like isn't always the best option, but for a manager who's customarily substitutes in an overly defensive nature regardless of the score, this is a refreshing change. Here's hoping it's not an abortion and we see more sensible subs on Wednesday.

Bae Chun-suk: Get a goal, get a mention. Bae has only seen 48 minutes of field time thus far for the Dragons, but has looked good in limited time. While half of the work of his goal came from a lovely Jugović pass, the 25-year-old made a great run to find the space and slotted home the goal cool as you like. For someone that only netted once for Busan IPark last year, Bae was playing with an impressive level of calm and composure.

Starting XI: Smaller and faster made a lot of sense when considering Seoul was the opponent. The Dragons came into this knowing they'd need to chase a lot and wouldn't see much of the ball. Starting the speedy combo of Ahn Yong-woo and Cho Suk-jae not only gave Seoul defenders something to consider, but also kept pressure on the ball at all times. Also, it was nice to see Cho get rewarded for his play against Ulsan. It would've been preferable to have him stay in that game and attempt to equalize... but that's another story. Kim Min-sik returning to mind the posts was a common sense, but still very welcome move, and as already mentioned Jugović playing in the center was a game changer and hopefully where we see him moving forward.



The Bad

Starting XI: Yup, it's both. This was the 4th game of the season and the 4th variation of a four-man backline we've seen. Swapping an outside back here or there is common enough, but we've yet to even see the same center back pairing this year. For an area that's an obvious weakness on the team, robbing the backline of any chance at cohesion is only going to exacerbate the issue and lead to more concessions.

Offensive Tactics: Though the smaller, faster attack was a wise choice on paper they only managed to put 1 shot on target (Bae Chun-suk's 76th minute equalizer). It was always going to be a tall order to score against Seoul because Jeonnam pretty much conceded possession before kickoff, but what's amazingly frustrating is how the team was clearly instructed to play when they had the ball. Time after time the midfielders hoofed the ball up top as if their hold-up target forward Stevo was in there instead of the poacher Cho Suk-jae. What's worse, when the offense maintained possession and was able to put something together, the play went its usual route out to the wings with lobbed crosses into the middle where the 180cm Cho had less than no chance against Seoul's 192cm Osmar. Keeping Stevo fresh until the second half was indeed a wise decision, but playing the same offensive tactics in his absence was foolish, inefficient, and wasteful of the precious little possession Jeonnam managed to get.

Ahn Yong-woo: After a relatively strong showing in 2015 this is an important season for Ahn Yong-woo if he hopes to break the starting XI with any regularity and Sunday's showing didn't help his stock. Put in the lineup for his speed and stamina, he didn't disappoint in those regards, but his first touch was appalling (skip to 1:11 in this video for an example) and directly led to turnovers multiple times. He looked panicked when he did have the ball and rarely made intelligent runs off the ball. His pace makes him a great wide option in the 4-2-3-1 Noh Sang-rae seems tied to this season, but Ahn will have to shake off a lot more rust if he's going to start over Heo Yong-joon or Cho Suk-jae.

The Ugly

The Penalty: It was the 92nd minute and the Dragons looked close to securing a tricky and wholly unlikely draw against one of the league's better teams... then it happened. When I saw it live I was furious. When I first watched the replay I was still pissed. And then I made a GIF. First and foremost, yes, this is a dive of the highest order. That can't be questioned. However... the PK was the right call. After watching a few times in slow-mo you can see Choi Hyo-jin throw his left leg into Kim Chi-woo after the ball's gone and there's definitely contact. Foolhardy and completely unnecessary contact. Lee Ji-nam was there to provide help defensively and Kim's momentum was only going to take him further towards the touchline and give him an even worse angle to shoot from. Additionally, the only open net Kim would've had to shoot at was well covered by Min-sik. It's a tough decision to make in the moment for Choi to be sure, and Kim Chi-woo may have a career in acting according to the match official, but the simple point is Choi shouldn't have put the ref in a position to decide the game like that. The veteran defender needs to leave his left foot out of that fray, push the responsibility onto Ji-nam and get himself back in position. Instead Kim Chi-woo made the most out of an opportunity and FC Seoul walked away with all three points.

League Table: That's four winless for the Dragons to start the year. They're currently on 2 points and in 11th place barely above the hapless Incheon United. Obviously it's not too late to turn the season around, but holding for a draw or pushing for the win against Seoul over the weekend would've made a statement to move forward from for the rest of the year. Instead they've suffered their second defeat in a row and now have to travel up North to face league leaders Seongnam on short rest this Wednesday. If they're going to crawl out of the relegation scrap this season, they need to start picking up points immediately if not sooner.

5 comments

  1. Totally agree with your reporting except for the penalty that was a complete dive never should have been called he created the contact no question about it the referee should be suspended

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    1. I wrote it, so I'll stand by it being a penalty... but at the same time a yellow for simulation would've also been completely warranted. Truly love Choi Hyo-jin at the back and I wouldn't even truly call this a mistake, but if you're going to kick as the ball in the box in stoppage time you HAVE to get the ball and not make contact. Simulated, shitty contact is still contact and that fool of a ref bought it.

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  2. I agree with you. It was a blatant dive, but Choi shouldn't have stuck his keg out. That being said, I'm surprised Seoul got the call on the roads. Hopefully there won't be some sort of karmic retribution later bon in the season.

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  3. Missed most of the game but Adriano's work on Seoul's was pretty impressive. The touch to kill the ball and the pass. Thought Choi Yong-soo's team selection wasn't tops either. Seoul was lucky to get a point.

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