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Writers Chat: FC Seoul vs. Jeonbuk

In the battle for global supremacy first there was Good versus Evil and next came the Autobots versus the Decepticons.  Now the irradiated men who are backed by the financial might of the Hyundai conglomeration travel to the nation's capital to take on the plucky underdogs FC Seoul.  Will the might of Jeonbok prevail over the right of FC Seoul?  Jeonbuk columnist Matthew Binns and FC Seoul columnist John Emanuelson discuss the upcoming match below and decide which member of the opposing team they would most like.

John Asks, Matthew answers

John Emanuelson: With Luiz having departed, who will replace him?

Matthew Binns: In terms of position, when sticking to the much-used 4-2-3-1 formation, Choi Kang-hee will often opt to play either Lee Jae-sung or Lee Jong-ho behind Lee Dong-gook. However, with Lee Dong-gook still out with a hamstring injury, Lee Jong-ho has been pushed into the striker role with great effect. In doing so, Choi Kang-hee has changed to a 4-1-4-1 arrangement, pushing both Lee Jae-sung and Kim Bo-kyung slightly further forward to support the striker, with Lee Ho returning to the fold to act as the defensive midfielder. With the added addition of Lopes and Leonardo manning the channels, the front five have been indulging in some attractive passing play that has seen Jeonbuk now achieve victories in their last two tricky league fixtures against a resurgent Pohang and an attacking Jeju. As much as I enjoyed Luiz’s contributions and tireless effort, there was already too much competition for space in attacking midfield in addition to his pace slowing down the attacks. In terms of who will replace him in the foreign slot, well the rumours of Edu have been very strong for a while and I would now be more surprised if he did not return.

JE: There have been rumors recently of Leonardo decamping to the Middle East.  How strongly do you rate those rumors and if he goes, how will the team function without him?

MB: The rumour mill has definitely been getting stronger in regards to this, but word was first going around the supporter groups after the Suwon FC away game. You could argue the player’s contract is also up in the winter so this could all be a bargaining chip to increase his pay. Given that Jeonbuk’s fate regarding the bribery scandal is still uncertain though (although it is most likely a fine and points docking at the start of next season), in addition to the player putting up with decreased league starts and increased competition despite leading Jeonbuk’s goalscoring charts, it would not surprise me if he leaves. In the K-League, there is only Seongnam’s Tiago who could even begin to adequately replace him and there is no way he is coming. Within the club, we purchased Ko Moo-yeol in the winter who is yet to get a decent run of games. Ko has failed to impress this season, but with a regular run in the team who knows. He was a promising young talent not so long ago, he could very well be again.

JB: Even though you have stated in the past that there have  been issues with the center backs, somehow Jeonbuk have the best defensive record with 22 goals conceded.  How have they done that?

MB: Jeonbuk admittedly do not concede many goals, but they always seem to concede one goal in every game which somehow makes it feel worse. They are rarely dominated though, which accounts for the low number conceded. Most teams set up to defend against Jeonbuk with the intention to earn a draw or a counter attacking goal. However, if you look at Jeonbuk’s nine draws this season, seven are from winning positions (i.e. two points lost) and the other two are goalless. Jeonbuk have also only won twice this year by more than the single goal. When you are often only a goal clear, oppositions will still feel they have a stake in the game’s outcome and will come forward to attack. It’s during these moments where Jeonbuk has often came unstuck and this is where my criticism is founded. Jeonbuk have constant lapses of concentration when the lead is only narrow in addition to their attack being rarely unable to finish anyone off. They should be a lot more than eight points clear.

JB: If you could choose any player from this Seoul side, who would you choose and why?

MB: We are lacking in the striker department bizarrely so I should choose Adriano, but the current set-up with the striker linking up with the midfield has more than compensated and has stopped us relying on one man for the goals. Therefore I would probably look to your defence as Jeonbuk are lacking a leader there, although going by FC Seoul’s recent form I’m not sure I should. I would probably choose between Osmar or Kim Won-sik, but most likely the Spaniard as Jeonbuk need a bit more experience to ensure they can get the clean sheet. It would definitely be interesting to do a mix of these two teams and see what a combined eleven would look like.

JE: Prediction?

MB :Despite everything I have said about the defence, Jeonbuk’s more recent formation has looked stronger and I am still unconvinced by FC Seoul. I am heading down the optimistic route.

FC Seoul 1-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Matthew Asks, John Answers

Matthew Binns: You finally have your first league win under Hwang Sun-hong, defeating Incheon 2-1 in the process. Briefly, how did you rate the performance of FC Seoul?

John Emanuelson: Whenever I think of an away trip to Incheon John Carpenter's Escape from New York immediately springs to mind.  Both locales engender a bleakness of spirit and the populations are comprised of lowlifes and sociopathic thugs that lack any appreciation for the necessity of moral standards and instead embrace the instant gratification of anarchy.  That being said, I love that movie and eating jo-gae gui, so it is usually a good day out in Incheon. 

I felt as though Seoul's victory on Sunday was comparable to Snake Plissken's journey in Escape from New York and Park Chu-young was the hero with his amazing goal.  There were still too many defensive miscues with Osmar's missed tackle making him culpable for Incheon's first.  Kim Chi-woo deserves to have his arm torn off and be beaten about his body and shoulders for his handball.  Maybe it was inadvertent, but as a professional he needs to know better. Nonetheless, Dejan and Park Chu-young rocked it up front, Yu Sang-hun had another solid game between the sticks, and the defense held.  Even though they are in the relegation spot, Incheon have been a tough team as of late, so I will not be too critical.  Sure there were mistakes, but the team showed great spirit to overcome them.

MB: Hwang Sun-hong played an interesting line-up against Incheon. Do you see him reverting to something more conservative for the visit of Jeonbuk?

JE: You cannot get any more conservative than Sunday's lineup with three of center backs, two defensive midfielders, and two fullbacks.  When I saw that lineup I thought that Hwang was surely jesting.  Age and Sunday's libations have ravaged my hippocampus, so I can't remember why Kim Won-sik went off, but obviously Hang realized his mistake and brought on Takahagi.   I think the reason why Hwang picked this lineup was towards resting key starters such as Go Yo-han, Ko Kwang-min, and Takahagi, but it could have backfired spectacularly.  I do not expect to see this 11 again and that Hwang will come to his senses and not play Kim Chi-woo on the right. 

MB: How much will FC Seoul be missing Adriano for this clash, especially with Jeonbuk's questionable defence?

JE: Of course the team will miss Adriano and how his movements open up opportunities for others, but for whatever reason the men in green are his kryptonite.  If Wednesday's opponents were the Suwon Bluewings, then I would say that Seoul would miss him acutely.  Rather than worrying about goals, I think Seoul need to focus on defending and being the more successful team in the midfield battles.  A draw is not a great result, but a loss is nothing short of a disaster, so I expect Seoul to worry more about keeping a clean sheet and somehow a goal will materialize for them.  If it is even after 80 minutes, I like Seoul's chances of stealing it at the end.

MB: If you could have any player from this Jeonbuk side at FC Seoul, who would you choose and why?

JE:  Lopes is my favorite in Jeonbuk's side, but the team is set up front.  I would take either Kim Bo-kyung or LeenJae-sung.  I like Kim Bo-kyung's versatility, but I think Lee Jae-sung's talent trumps all.  A midfield with Ju Se-jong, Takahagi, and Lee Jae-sung is pretty damn good. 

MB: Finally, what is your predicted scoreline?

JE: Jeonbuk are the better team right now form wise, but when Hang managed Pohang he usually got a result against Choi Kang-hee's teams.  I have been less than enthused with Hwang's lineup choices, but I think he comes up with a good plan and Seoul give Jeonbuk their first loss of the season.  Just like in the first matchup, it will be a tight game with little space to work with and one team's mistake will be punished.  Hopefully, it is Jeonbuk's this time. 

FC Seoul 1-0 Jeonbuk

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