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Recap: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-1 Suwon FC

Edu addresses the crowd at half-time during the clash between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Suwon FC (Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)
Edu addresses the crowd at half-time during the clash between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Suwon FC
(Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)
On a match day where the game seemed to play second fiddle to other events and promotions, top-of-the-table Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors laboured to a 2-1 victory over the league’s cellar dwellers Suwon FC. Here are some thoughts on some of the key talking points.

Edu Day

The problem with these kind of promotional days out is it can often lead to the game not matching the hype. For this clash, Jeonbuk opted well in advance to field their returning hero and made sure all marketing promotions let everyone know. Edu’s face adorned the ticket stubs, 5,555 Edu beach balls were given away (none disappointedly finding themselves on the pitch) and the entertainment was provided by popular Korean indie band Guckkasten. The upside being that yesterday’s attendance surpassed the 20,000 mark but it did make the football feel somewhat like an afterthought. With K-League attendances in desperate need of boosting though (although maybe not so much Jeonbuk’s), credit is due to the club for hosting something that drew crowds out on a hot Wednesday evening.

The player himself though was unable to do what Kim Bo-kyung and Kim Shin-wook did on their respective days and that is score. It was probably to be expected given his eight months of lacking match sharpness but he did have three notable chances which he was unable to convert. After the quarter of an hour mark, Edu found himself in space in the box after a delightful one-two with Kim Bo-kyung, but his powerful shot angled upwards ricocheting off the crossbar. A second chance saw him beat/run over two players before shooting straight at the keeper. His third chance seemed to sum up his performance. Collecting the ball around 25 yards from, he turned to beat the defensive line and drove into the box. With just the keeper left in his wake, his delayed reactions proved slow enough to allow Suwon FC defender Leijer to turn and perform a last gasp sliding tackle as Edu finally set up to unleash his shot.

I have questioned this transfer, and to be honest was not always his biggest supporter last season, but he does have a track record of scoring in this league which I cannot ignore and there were glimpses yesterday that he could start finding the net again with some more appearances. I still do not believe he is the best option up front, but he will need minutes if Choi Kang-hee is to insist on using him in some capacity for the more important fixtures.

Lee Jong-ho

I have gushed praise on this player a lot recently, particularly for the way he has filled in during the injuries to both Lee Dong-gook and Kim Shin-wook. I am even concerned that he will see less action now Edu has returned to the club as I do not think his recent performances deserve his exclusion from the line up.

My fears were allayed somewhat to still see his name in the starting eleven, featuring as a central attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 set-up. However, this was also one of my concerns in my preview. Jeonbuk have performed better with a single defensive midfielder (in a 4-1-4-1 shape) that allows both Lee Jae-sung and Kim Bo-kyung to move forward and attack. By placing Lee Jong-ho in front of them, it neutered their threat somewhat as they both took turns to stray forward into attack. Furthermore, Lee Jong-ho did not play well and was correctly subbed for Lee Dong-gook later on. His most effective position this season has been when he has led the line. Unfortunately for the Gwangyang man, it looks like he will to adjust quickly if he is still to warrant inclusion in Choi Kang-hee’s plans.

Defensive Woes

Removing the defensive midfielder which has proved pivotal to our recent formations led once again to inevitable defensive woes. The defence continues to struggle when offered little protection from the midfield. Whilst Jeonbuk dominated the game on the whole, hitting the crossbar three times, Suwon FC had the better chances to score. Three times they broke away from the defenders to find themselves in space with just the keeper to beat. They may have shot tamely on the first two occasions, but when a long ball towards the Jeonbuk defence was not properly dealt with, Kim Byung-oh was played through and slotted between the keeper’s legs to equalise. 

Positional Experimentation

Choi Kang-hee offered up some insight into what options he has when it comes to tactical rearrangements. Unfortunately, his first experiment just seemed ill-thought through.

With Jeonbuk leading 1-0, the manager opted to remove the ineffective Lee Jong-ho for Lee Dong-gook (a decision I agreed with) and then, more questionably, left back Park Won-jae for attacking left midfielder Ko Moo-Yeol. Perhaps there was an injury to Park I was unaware of, but it seemed like the manager was trying out potential tactics for future matches. Ko Moo-yeol displaced Leonardo who was brought back into defence. One of Jeonbuk’s most creative and consistent players was turned into a defender for ten minutes. This raises a number of questions, the most prominent being, what has happened to Jeonbuk’s left backs? Jeonbuk have two reported injuries at present: Kim Chang-soo and Choi Jung-woo. Choi Jae-soo, a player who was mainstay at left back for a large portion of this season, is fit to play and not suspended, yet he was not even included in the match day squad. Instead, he was signing autographs an hour before kick-off as part of the Edu day events.

After the equaliser was conceded, Choi Kang-hee decided to remove Edu from the pitch and replace him with Kim Shin-wook. In doing so, Leonardo was moved back to the left wing with Choi Chul-soon moving from right-back to left back. Han Kyo-won moved to right back (a position he has played in before) and Ko Moo-Yell across to the right wing. Notice that Kim Shin-wook’s inclusion had no affect on this more sensible positional rearrangement. If this was always possible, why was it not implemented when Ko Moo-Yeol was first introduced into play? Han Kyo-won was hardly a major threat down that right channel so Ko Moo-yeol should have been considered for that position as soon as the substitution board was raised. It leads me to believe that Choi Kang-hee was toying with potential formations, whilst only holding onto a one goal lead. Arrogance which was quickly punished by the opposition.

Jeonbuk Goals

Like death and taxes, Jeonbuk inevitably found the net. It sits as a footnote though because of this inevitability. The first goal on ten minutes was admittedly very well taken. A Kim Bo-kyung corner was met by the head of centre-back Cho Sung-hwan at the near post, whose glancing header saw the ball across the net and into the far corner.

The second, was a long range effort from Choi Chul-soon. Rather than a 25 yard stunner though, his shot was weak and took a fortuitous deflection of a Suwon defender to leave the keeper with little chance. Jeonbuk did deserve the win based on the balance of play, but it was hardly a goal worth of it’s match-winning status.

Full highlights can be viewed here.

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