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Pohang Steelers vs FC Seoul Writer's Chat

Big match with many questions looming for each team. Can Pohang repeat past success vs Seoul even with a mediocre season so far? Can Seoul brush off past results vs Pohang and bounce back from a tough loss to Jeonbuk last weekend?

John Asks, Josh answers

JE: With 10 goals, Yang Dong-hyun seems on pace to match his career high of 13 goals in 2013.  How likely do you think it is that he will score more than 14 goals for the team and how important is he to Pohang's set up?

JB: I think it is very likely he scores more than 14, only 4 goals behind Jung Jo-gook it's possible Yang Dong-hyun could be top scorer this season. He averages just above .5 goal every match, he has 47 shots on goal, he's been Man of the Match 5 times, Best XI 6 times, and just last week he was Round MVP. I'd think he's pretty important (lol). In all seriousness he's a key player in the offense this year and if he continues this path he could be one of the best players in K-League in the years to come.

JE: Considering they lost last year's best player Song Jun-ho to a season ending injury, do you think Pohang have overachieved to and finishing in the top six finish?

JB: I honestly think the team has been underachieving especially 3 games prior to last weekend's game. Last week things seemed to finally click with the new transfers and veterans playing together and I think that was the hump Pohang needed to get over in order to move forward in the right direction. If you compare the line-up from last game and the line-up in Round 1 you'd notice a 7 player difference. Now the differences have changed slowly throughout the season but the biggest transitions have occurred within the last 5 games within those games were 3 losses in a row and all those losses could've have been prevented. I think as the season comes to a close Pohang is just where they want to be and finishing in the top 6 should not be a problem.

JE: Pohang have had the best of Seoul in this fixture for the last three years.  Why have they dominated Seoul this year (and in the past) and what can Seoul do to win on Sunday? 

JB: I wouldn't say dominated, we've just played better when given the opportunity and I think it comes down to a few factors. Rest, in the latest match Seoul only had 3 days between matches and Pohang had 7 days of rest and the match prior to that Seoul played and lost to Hiroshima who was playing at home in the AFC then played Pohang 4 days later. The match prior to the last 2 was in last season's Championship Group and was the last game for each team and it decided the final team included in the latest AFC, now I don't see any other factors in this game other than Pohang's will to win and play in the AFC.    :)  :P

JE: With 11 games left, what is the likelihood of Pohang finishing in the top six and/or qualifying for the AFC Champions League? 

JB: Honestly, every team still has a chance to make top six. Other than Jeonbuk who has a substantial lead in points and very unlikely that they lose their top spot. Between Seoul and Suwon City there is only a 15 point gap. If I had to put a percentage on Pohang finishing in the top six I'd say.... 80% that they finish in the top 3 (hehehe) and 99.99% that they finish top six and when considering qualifying for AFC that may take a little finesse but I think it's possible to skip qualifying round and get the full promotion into next year's AFC.

Final Score?

FC Seoul  2 - Pohang  2

Josh Asks, John answers

JB:What are your thoughts on K-League teams having more than 4 international players per team?

JE: That is an interesting question.  On the one hand, I think it would be good for the league and the teams themselves to have a wider array of talent to choose from.  With only three international players plus one from Asia, it can be really hurt a team if one of these four members is a bust or suffers an injury.  I have noticed the Chinese Super League teams have more than three or four foreigners on their roster with their 4 + 1 rule, but only three foreigners and one Asian player can take the field at the same time, so there is precedent if the K-League wanted to include another international spot.

On the other hand though, I do not think it is a good idea.  I think most teams struggle to turn a profit and that the K-League is there to develop Korean players and advance the prospects of the national team.  It is good for young players to train with international players and learn new things, but they might not get a chance if there are too many international players blocking their way.  I like the way things are now- it reminds me off when I lived in England in the mid-nineties before the Bosman rule took effect. 

JB: I've noticed week in and week out K-League teams use different formations. Do you think a team would do better or worse playing 1 formation all year?

JE: It is difficult to say, but I personally like it when coaches change formations.  I think it makes a game much more interesting and unpredictable, which could lead to goals.  When I watch Seoul play other teams, I enjoy watching the players figure out how they are going to break down the other team’s formation and vice versa.  For example, even though the game between Seoul and Ulsan earlier this month ended 0-0, I liked watching the wing play from Kovacec and Kim Tae-hwan in the first half.  Variety is the spice of life and I have a prejudice against three-back systems, so I am always happy when Seoul’s coach Hwang Sun-hong changes his formation to a back four. 

However, I could see the advantage of choosing a system and sticking with it.  Sure, that makes a team more predictable to their opponent with regards to how they play, but it also allows for an understanding between the team members with regards to positioning and movement. 

JB: Last question, where do you see your team at the end of round 33?

JE: This has been a rough season as a Seoul supporter.  Things started out with such a bang and there was an optimism that had been missing for a long time.  Now though, there is no such optimism and every miss-kick is followed by an apprehension that something terrible is about to occur.  Therefore, it is difficult to say where Seoul will end up after round 33. 

Even though Seoul have faltered these last eight weeks, other teams have not taken advantage like they should.  Before Tiago left, I felt Seongnam were Seoul’s biggest threat, but I think they will struggle without their talisman.  Ulsan, Sangju Sangmu, and Jeju United are all threat, but they also have weaknesses and the propensity to shoot themselves in the foot, so I think things will stay as they are.   Maybe Seoul falls to fourth or fifth place, but I cannot see them falling out of the top six. 

Final Score?

JE: Pohang have owned Seoul, especially at World Cup Stadium, these last three years and I cannot see things changing.  This Seoul team is bereft of confidence and tired.  I think Pohang sets up in a counter attacking formation, Yang Dong-hyun gets a goal, and Seoul go to pieces.  However, since this is my final game in Korea this year, I am going to be optimistic and predict that Seoul find a way to win in the end.   

FC Seoul 3-2 Pohang Steelers

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