[Recent News][6]

Classic
Challenge
FC Seoul
K-League Classic
Jeonbuk
K League Challenge
Jeonnam
Daejeon
AFC
Suwon
Busan
Daejeon Citizen
Seoul E-Land
Citizen
FA Cup
Abroad
Incheon
Transfers
Preview
Korean National Football Team
K League Classic
Gaming
Jeju
Gyeongnam
Ulsan
Football Manager
Daegu
Interview
Pohang Steelers
Suwon Bluewings
Seongnam FC
Suwon FC
Ansan
Anyang
FM2017
Gangwon
FIFA
Gwangju
Bucheon
Bucheon 1995
Sangju
Asan
FIFA16
Featured
Cup
Chungju
Goyang
World Cup
Club World Cup
K League All Star Game
K3
Russia 2020
TNTFC
playoffs

Preview and Prediction: Seongnam FC vs. FC Seoul

(Adriano scores the winner .last year at the end- from SPOTV via youtube.com)
In a first versus third match-up,  FC Seoul travel to just south of their home city to play Seongnam FC.  This is a premier match-up and with these two teams residing in such close proximity, hopefully there will be a big crowd on Saturday.  I expect a really good game as these two teams have contrasting styles, but feature players who can decide a game individually.  Before looking at Seongnam, I will cover how Seoul did in their FA Cup game on Wednesday.


Recap: FC Seoul vs. Daegu FC

Seoul's mini-crisis may or may not be over.  After losing to Pohang on Sunday, Seoul played Daegu in the FA Cup on Wednesday.  Much to my surprise, Choi Yong-soo named a strong starting 11 and did not rotate his midfield.  After going down 2-0, it appeared that this choice backfired spectacularly.  However, by the grace of God (Adriano), Seoul were able to rally back and win the game 4-2 in added extra time.

I had to work on Wednesday, so I missed all of the first half.  Watching the highlights of the first half, in the beginning Daegu seemed happy to shoot from distance and test Yoo Hyun.  Seoul had some nice build up play, but could not score as they either miss kicked the ball or Daegu's keeper Jo Hyun-woo made some great saves on point blank shots.  Daegu broke the deadlock in the 39th minute with Park Se-jin's cut back picked out Cesinha's run into the box as the defense switched off AGAIN.  Down 1-0 at half-time, what inspiration would Choi Yong-soo give the team for the second half?

Not much it appeared, as Daegu broke quickly from a Seoul corner and Cesinha scored his second in the 52nd minute.  It was at this point that I had found a stream and along with a sense of deja vu, so I began to make dinner rather than be angry, which means I missed the build up for Adriano's first two goals.  I cannot find any information as to when Choi brought on Adriano, but whenever he did, it was an inspired substitution.

Adriano scored Seoul's first goal in the 74th minute.  Osmar, who had moved into the midfield to play as DM, sent a long ball into the box for Sim Woo-yeon (another inspired substitution), who knocked it down for Adriano to finish.  Two minutes later, Seoul had tied the game up from another long ball that Ju Se-jong knocked into Adriano's path.  After a bit of a scuffle with the defenders, Takahagi was able to knock the ball forward and Adriano was quicker than everyone and rifled the ball past the keeper.   Adriano secured a hat trick in the 103rd minute as he did really well to hold off the defender and run onto Takahagi's pass, sweeping it into the net.  Adriano wrapped up the game and got his fourth goal with a well-taken free kick.  

Jesus- nothing more can really be said about the season Adriano is having.  He has scored 20 goals across all competitions for Seoul this year.  He has really stepped it up into another gear and he is the team's MVP.  Superlatives cannot do justice for this player.  He is too good for the K-League right now and I think Choi's biggest task, besides keeping Seoul on top of the league and getting the team past Urawa Reds, is convincing Adriano to stay at least through the summer.  If he leaves to go to the Chinese Super League (possible, although his stint with Dalian Shide wasn't the most successful, and Chinese clubs want a bigger name) or the Middle East (much more probable I think), Seoul are going to be in trouble.  His speed and awareness give Seoul an edge that few clubs possess.

I think Adriano will stay through the summer however.  He wants to break the ACL scoring record and playing with Seoul gives him that chance.  Likewise, before coming to Korea, his career was middling at best.  I hope he remembers it was the K-League that helped bring him to prominence and maybe, fingers crossed, he will play for Seoul in 2017.

Anyways, it was a great win for Seoul and they showed a lot of heart to come back.  After Sunday's game, I was quite down on them.  It felt as though the players did not show up, expected to roll over Pohang quite easily, and were shocked to be down 2-0.  From there, it was a matter of too little too late as they could not find the back of the net until Dejan's brilliant free kick.

I think my friend who knows a lot about Seoul and football said it best- the team looked too comfortable, like they had already achieved the title. and that the team lacked vision and ambition.  It was very harsh, but I think he was spot on with his assessment after Sunday's game as all of the players, besides Dejan and Adriano, were poor.  There so many missed tackles and a general lack of hustle from the midfield and failure by the wingbacks to put in a defensive shift.  The CBs, likewise, were switched off for far too many parts of the game and it cost Seoul a chance to gain three points.  I thought it was from fatigue, but that should not be the case since everyone besides Adriano had a week off prior to playing Pohang.

I speculated that they missed Shin Jin-ho and the energy that he brought to the team.  His departure has had a knock-on effect of weakening the team.  Lee Seok-hyun and Park Yong-woo are great squad players, but I do not think they are first team players.  Now, they have to play major minutes and they seem unable to do the things that Shin did for the team and it is causing mistakes (ex: Park Yong-woo and his missed tackles) to be made.

In their last game, Seoul's opponents scored the first goal and Seoul had to play on the back foot and chase the game.  Prior to that, besides the first game at Jeonbuk, Seoul always scored first and I think this was a big reason why they won six games in a row.  Shin, with his range of passing and energy to press, gave Seoul an edge and I would say were the league's best midfield (Scott Whitelock would disagree) but with his departure, they are just decent now.  However, this really should be no excuse.  The players are professionals who desire to achieve greatness and they need to seize the opportunity (I am looking at you Lee Seok-hyun).

Finally, I want to end this on a positive note.  I have often been critical of the manager Choi Yong-soo tactically, but his substitutions were the difference.  Bringing Adriano off the bench was an easy decision, but brave nonetheless, since Seoul have a game in Seongnam (2nd place) and travel to Japan to play Wednesday.  A different manager might have opted to rest him and hope his current 11 players could get a result (that was not likely to be).

More importantly, I think it was the introduction of Sim Woo-hyun to, as my friend who knows a lot about Seoul and football said, that helped break the dense defense by using the old school tactic of kick-and-rush.  His heading ability is great- it led to Seoul's first goal.  Also, just his presence in the box was a nuisance all night for the Daegu defenders.  By signing Sim and using him as a battering ram, it give Seoul a way to alter their attack and another focal point to use.  In the future, if Choi decides to move Osmar back into the DM role or utilize Go Yo-han as a CM, I will write about those.  Until then, these moves might have been one-offs, but it shows that Choi is trying to be innovative rather than the definition of insanity.

So, critics will say that Seoul should have beaten Daegu FC, a team in a lower division, in regulation.  They are right, Seoul should have taken care of business in the first 90 minutes.  Unfortunately, they did not but Seoul kept fighting and this could be a big win for them.  It might even be the catalyst to awake them from their slumber.


(Back when Molina played for Seongnam- from en.people.cn)

Seongnam FC: A Brief History

Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma are the most successful club in the K-League.  They have won 7 titles and been runners up 3 times.  Also, they have won the FA Cup three times and the AFC Champions League twice.  Having accumulated a such a prestigious history, it leads me to ask, what the hell happened?

At the start of the millennium, Seongnam won the league title three times in a row (2001, 2002, 2003) and in 2006.  After finishing first in 2007, Seongnam made it to the championship game but lost to Pohang, which is why it shows them in second place that year.   From there, I would say a slow rot started to set in with the returns gradually starting to decrease as each year passed by until 2014.  Here is a chart of how they finished and performed in each competition.

Year
Finish (w/PO)
Playoff
FA Cup
ACL
2008
3rd (5th)
1st Round
QF
2009
4th (2nd)
Finals
QF
2010
5th (4th)
2nd Round
QF
Winners
2011
10th
Winners
2012
12th
16 R
            16 R
2013
8th
16 R
2014
9th
Winners
2015
5th (4th)
QF
16 R

 In 2011, even though they finished in 10th place, Seongnam won the FA Cup and made it to the AFC Champions League.  From there, they were abysmal in the league, struggling to score goals, properly defend, and often viewed as an easy three points.  I had been to Tancheon a couple of times and I can say that it was not a great place to watch a game. I think, and I hope that I will not burn in hell for that, that the best thing to happen to Seongnam was the death of Reverend Sun Myung-moon.  With his passing, the Unification church decided to get rid of the club and were going to sell it to Ansan.

Instead, the city of Seongnam bought the club (changing the name to Senognam FC) and the team struggled for much of 2014 until they fired Park Jong-hwan.  From there, Kim Hak-bum was appointed as the manager, Seongnam avoided relegation, and won the FA Cup via penalties.  Since then, Seongnam have been on an upward trajectory.  They made it to the knockout round in the ACL (which surprised many, myself included) and finished in 5th place last year (the best any citizen club has done).

(Is he even old enough to drink?  Tiago signs with Seongnam FC- from seongnamfc.com)
Seongnam FC: 2016

I was often derisive about them last year, calling them the "Master of the Frustrating Draw" (they won 15, drew 15, and lost 8 games).  However, Seongnam really did overachieve last year considering how much money they spent on salary.  Here is my favorite chart once again.

  The Money League

        League Table (Pre-split)                                                               Money League
Rank
Team
Points
Rank
Team
Wages (approx.)
(KRW in billions)
1
Jeonbuk
68
1
Jeonbuk
9.17
2
Suwon
60
2
Ulsan
6.93
3
Pohang
56
3
Suwon
6.77
4
Seongnam
54
4
FC Seoul
6.06
5
FC Seoul
54
5
Pohang
4.21
6
Jeju Utd.
46
6
Jeju Utd.
4.19
7
Incheon
45
6
Jeonnam
4.19
8
Jeonnam
42
8
Seongnam
3.8
9
Ulsan
40
9
Busan
2.72
10
Gwangju
35
10
Incheon
2.39
11
Busan
24
11
Gwangju
1.95
12
Daejeon
13
12
Daejeon
1.79
Table from Jae Hyeok-lee's article Money, Money, Money! (Update 2.0)

They were in the lower half of the league spending wise (8th), but finished in the upper half of the table.  That is pretty impressive, especially since Ulsan spent twice as much but were significantly worse.  Is it like Money Ball?  I do not know, but whatever it is, I feel as though it demonstrates that if you have a competent manager and a good youth system, then it is not essential to spend your way to the top of the league.

Last year, Seongnam set up much like Leicester City did.  They were compact defensively, with a solid back four, and looked to get the ball to striker Hwang Eui-jo quickly.  Hwang had a break out season, scoring 13 goals, but it helped that Kim Do-heon was adept at distributing the ball and Nam Jun-jae could stretch defenses with his speed.  Being defensively stout (0.76 goals against) and quick counter attacking propelled them to finish in the top six, but Seongnam still had faults, especially on offense (0.97 goals for).

I expected them to lose their star striker Hwang in the off-season, but somehow they have managed to keep him for one more year.  Nam Jun-jae left the team to join Ansan Mugunghwa FC,but he has been more than adequately replaced by Tiago, who is tied with Adriano for the league lead in goals.  If anything, Seongnam are better this year than last, turning what would be draws into wins.  They sit in second place currently and it would not surprise me if Seongnam won the league this year.  I think they are that good.

Clubs such as the Jeonnam Dragons should take note.  Jeonnam have talent, especially in attack, but are woefully underachieving.  Maybe with the right person at the helm, they could become a top six club, even with defensive issues.

(Seoul vs. Suwon, photo courtesy of Jae.)
By the Numbers

Via K-League.com, here are the numbers for FC Seoul this year.

Possession
Result

Shooting
Result

Opponents
Result
Season
52%

Season (avg.)
14.88

Possession
48%
Home
55%

On goal (avg.)
7.88

Range
36-55%
Away
50%

Away (avg.)
12.6

Shots (avg.)
9.67
Range
45-64%

On goal (A) (avg.)
6.2

On goal (avg.)
4.56

Seoul have been fairly consistent in terms of possession, shots created, and shots allowed all season.  Here are the numbers for Seongnam FC.  

Possession
Result

Shooting
Result

Opponents
Result
Season
47%

Season (avg.)
9.77

Possession
53%
Home
46%

On goal (avg.)
5.44

Range
50-59%
Away
47%

Home (avg.)
11.75

Shots (avg.)
17.56
Range
41-52%

On goal (H) (avg.)
6.5

On goal (avg.)
7

They have average less possession and shots than their opponents, but somehow are still in second place.  I was curious about that, so here is a chart detailing the differences between Seongnam and their opponent each week with regards to possession, shots, shots on goal, when the first goal was scored, and the result of the game.  

Week
Difference in Possession
Difference in Shots/On Goal
Time of First Goal
Result
1
-16%
9/2
48 M (S)
2-0 (W)
2
-2%
8/6
60 M (S)
1-1 (D)
3
-2%
8/6
68 M (S)
1-0 (W)
4
-10%
5/2
5 M (S)
3-2 (W)
5
4%
7/0
0-0
0-0 (D)
6
0%
10/-1
13 M (J)
3-2 (L)
7
-4%
11/2
36 M (S)
2-2 (D)
8
-8%
6/1
60 M (S)
2-0 (W)
9
-14%
6/-4
30 M (S)
3-0 (W)

In seven of the nine games that Seongnam have played, they have had the ball less than their opponent, and six of those games have been wins so it shows that Seongnam are quite happy to eschew possession.  This could be a result of them netting the first goal, which is a common occurrence (7 out of 9 games), and then sitting back and playing on the counter.  

However, what caught my eye was how many more shots Seongnam's opponents have had. Seongnam average 11.75 shots per game, while their opponents average 17.56, which is a large gap.  Their opponents have had 70 more shots (7.8 per game) than Seongnam, but only 14 more shots on goal (1.6 per game).  

At first glance, it would seem Seongnam  have been the beneficiaries of luck this season and that they have had difficulties creating opportunities while their opponents are dominating them.  I do not think that is true at all since the difference between shots on goal for Seongnam and their opponent are minimal.  I think it means that Seongnam are a defensively sound team, so their opponents are settling for shots outside the box.  

Furthermore, I think it shows how much more lethal Seongnam have become counter attacking this year (I think their game against Jeonbuk is a good example.  They were out shot by Jeonbuk (18/4 to 8/5) but still managed to score twice).  In the games when Seongnam have had equal or more possession and shots on goal, they have drawn or loss, so neither of these is a factor.  

Finally, I recorded the time of the first goal in each game they have played.  Seongnam have scored first in seven of the nine games, leading to five wins.  In the game they did not score first, against Jeonbuk, it was the only one they lost this year.  Also, over half of the first goals they scored in games have been in the second half, around the 60 minute mark.  I think this demonstrates how patient Seongnam are and their belief that they will break through eventually.  

Taking a cursory look at the statitstics on kleague.com for the weekly games, it seems like teams are trying to get up and down the field and shoot the ball a lot in games.  I think this is especially true for Seoul, Ulsan, Suwon Bluewings, Suwon FC, Jeju United, and Gwangju FC, which is half the league.  It makes for exciting football, but is it effective?  

Based on Seongnam's league position and how well the Magpies are doing this year, I would say not particularly.  Getting up and down the field shows a desire to have good attacking play, but unfortunately, too many teams are ineffective at it right now.  As recent results have shown, getting a lead and conceding possession is a more solid guarantee of gaining a point or three.

(Hoepfully Seoul players will be happier-  photo courtesy of Jae.)

Prediction

Just as with my Pohang preview, I will try and explain my rationale for my prediction.  Seongnam are a damn good team and they should win this game, but I do not think they will.  Before saying why, I am going to highlight their strengths.

First of all, the team is smart and quick.  They will set up in a 4-2-3-1, which allows for them to be compact defensively and break quickly on the counter.  When they have the ball, they quite clever with their passing, can play some nice one-touch stuff, and do well to vary their attacking play. This move seems to be a big part of their repertoire- a quick attack down the line, one-touch pass, and a late run into the box for the Seongam player to score.  It seems like a lot of their goals have come from the failure of defenders to track a late runner into the box.

Last year, Hwang Eui-jo carried them, scoring almost a third of the teams goals (13 of the team's 37 goals).  If a team could key on him and shut him down, then Seongnam usually would struggle to get a result.  This year, with the addition of Tiago, teams cannot just key on Hwang.  After a slow start, he has picked it up and now has four goals to his name, but it is Tiago with six goals who has helped key Seongnam's run and he seems to be able to do it all.  He can deliver set pieces, gets into good scoring positions, and can create opportunities from nothing.

Their keeper is very competent and their defense is sound.  The majority of the goals that Seongnam have allowed have come from misfortune- a PK (Incheon), corner kicks (Jeonbuk, Jeju),and  a deflected free kick (Jeonbuk).  It is hard to break their defense down, which is why Seongnam often score the first goal in a game.

However, teams that utilize quick switches when the defenders bunch up by sending the ball from side to side and attacking wide seem to have some success.  Also, countering quickly and pressing hard have opened up their defense from time to time.  If that fails, maybe a player can make an intelligent run.

Therefore, I think it is essential that Seoul come out on the front foot.  In their last two games, against Suwon Bluewings and the Pohang Steelers, Seoul have conceded in the first 20 minutes.  I think this shows a team not ready to start the game, so somehow, Choi has to overcome this.  Even in Wednesday's FA Cup game, Seoul allowed too much time and space for Daegu players, leading to a couple of open shots in the first 10 minutes.  The defense and midfield need to be switched on when the whistle blows, gun shoots, and the fireworks go off this Saturday.

Seoul pressed so well in the beginning of the season, effectively hurrying and harassing other teams into making mistakes, which led to early goals.  Instead of being intimidated and worried about Seongnam's counter attack, they should press the Magpies aggressively.  However, that means that players cannot afford to put in lazy tackles that are easily evaded by anyone with a modicum of skill on the ball.  In other words, no more missed tackles (again, I am looking at you Park Yong-woo).

Finally, and I do not think he will, but if there was ever a time to change the shape this would be it.  As I mentioned above, Seongnam are compact and where teams have gained opportunities is playing the ball out wide and attacking from there.  This would be a good time to switch to a back four, push Osmar forward into the DM role, and introduce Yun Il-lok into the starting line-up.  Of course, that will never happen.

Whomever Choi chooses to send out as Seoul's wing-backs will be critical in this fixture.  They will probably be the only players with any space to work with offensively and on defense, especially whoever mans Seoul's left side (Ko Kwang-min most likely), will have to be cognizant of Seongnam's right-back Kwak Hae-seong.  He likes to play quick 1-2's and run into space and cross going down the line.

Earlier, I said that I do not think Seongnam will win the game.  Seoul have, in the past, down well in Tancheon Stadium.  Last year, they won a great game there, scoring two goals in the last 10 minutes.  I think, or I really hope, that Seoul have the strength to dig deep and take another one from the Magpies.

This is naive optimism since Seongnam are at home, have the momentum, and are set up to be at team like Seoul, but I am still going to pick Seoul to win another tough game.  If Adriano plays, I think he somehow bests his fellow countryman Tiago.

Final Score: Seongnam 1-2 FC Seoul


No comments:

Post a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search

Featured