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Preview: FC Seoul vs Daegu FC


Having snapped a four game winless skid in dramatic fashion with a Super Match win over archrival Suwon on Sunday, FC Seoul welcomes a struggling Daegu FC side to Sangam Wednesday night. Can the hosts keep the momentum going or will this prove to be a trap game for a suddenly confident side?
(image via interfootball.heraldcorp.com)

Overview

(soccerway.com)

Super Match

Winner of just two of their last ten league matches, Seoul desperately needed a win when they returned to K League action after a two week hiatus, and that's just what they got. Any win would have done the trick, but capping off an exciting back and forth Super Match with all three points may be the motivational spark this team needs to turn the corner on an otherwise underwhelming season. The three points saw them leapfrog Suwon and get back into the top six with some favorable home matches coming up next. A big reason for the win was manager Hwang Sun-hong finally trotting out a four man back line with Osmar shielding them in an inverted 4-3-3 that stifled the Bluewings attack. Suwon struggling to score at home was something Scott Whitelock and I spoke about pregame, but limiting the damage to just a single goal was still impressive for a Seoul defense that has been shaky this year. 21-year-old Hwang Hyun-soo got his ninth start of the season and looked confident anchoring the backline with the veteran presences of Osmar in front and Kwak to his side. The fullback pairing of Lee Gyu-ro and Kim Chi-woo was a bit tenuous at times, but held together overall and neither seemed to feel the need to run the overlap nearly as much as usual with a more active midfield.

Midfield Boost

A large reason the midfield was more active on the ball and allowed the defense to focus on their responsibilities was the return of Ha Dae-sung. After three disappointing seasons abroad in the Chinese Super League and J League, Ha returned to the club that made him famous looking to get his career back on track... and then got injured. Coming off of the two week international break proved the perfect time to slot the 32 year old vet into the starting lineup and he didn't disappoint. His headed goal to take the lead in the 33rd minute was not only the perfect way to come back, it showed what's been missing in the midfield as well. Someone unafraid to get into the scrapheap in the box and make something out of nothing. It shouldn't be expected that Ha will find his name on the scoresheet often this year, but the fact that he's willing to get in there and mix it up gives opposition defenses something to think about beyond "mark Dejan." As impressive as the goal was, it should also be noted the vet went the full 90 in his first match back from injury. He'll no doubt take a rest for this Wednesday's clash vs Daegu, but it's an impressive feat nonetheless.

Another prominent Korean midfielder making his way back to K League is former Pohang Steeler Lee Myung-joo. The Korea Herald reported a few weeks ago that the 27-year-old wouldn't be re-signing with 2016 ACL Runners Up Al Ain of the Arabian Gulf League, and Seoul was able to complete the transfer. The combination of his former Pohang manager, Hwang, being in charge and needing to complete his military duty proved to be too much for Lee and he's back on Korean shores. Unfortunately for Seoul this is more of a short term loan spell than anything else. Due to KFA rules, a player must be a part of a K League team before they can transfer to Sangju Sangmu to complete their military duty. So, Lee will finish out the season with Seoul and will most likely play the 2018 season in Sangju. Though the signing has already been made official, the transfer window doesn't officially open until next week, so he won't be able to play until the July 2nd showdown with Jeonbuk. A match that may well take on much more significance if Seoul can put together a string of good form.

With 15 caps for the Korean National Team and plenty of Champions League experience from his time in the Middle East, Myung-joo will undoubtedly up the level of play in the midfield. A three man midfield comprised of him, Ha, and Osmar should allow Lee to move forward with some frequency knowing Ha and Osmar will have runners coming in behind him covered. Additionally, Lee's signing should have a knock on effect for the other midfielders on the team who will now have to earn the minutes that were previously being handed to them. With both Ha and Lee likely Starting XI regulars, younger players like Ju Se-jong and Lee Seok-hyun are going to need to prove they're worthy of getting those minutes. A little healthy competition should go a long way to improve one of Seoul's weak points.

The Adversary

With only one clean sheet and no away league wins this season, things don't look too promising for the recently promoted Daegu FC heading into Wednesday night. Daegu came into this season with the main goal being simply to stay up and they're clinging to that hope at the moment with Gwangju and Incheon both struggling mightily. To achieve this goal, Daegu's been doing what teams in a relegation battle need to do: win at home. Only league leaders Jeonbuk and Jeju United have been able to claim all three points at Daegu Stadium. In fact, 85% of Daegu FC's points have been earned at home. However, they have lost their last four away matches and have two tremendously tough ones in front of them with Seoul and Jeonbuk up next.

Though Daegu's losing more often than they're not, they're not losing by a lot. They have only had two games this year where they've lost by two goals and that (again) was against the league's first and second placed teams Jeonbuk and Jeju. This team may not be good enough to fully pull themselves clear of the relegation heap just yet, but they've proved they can go toe to toe with almost anyone and will certainly keep it close. This should be a good test for Seoul's midfield to see if they can control the tempo of a closely contested match.

Who To Watch

Our Daegu columnist Jung Muyeol has tagged the Brazilian Cesinha as the man to keep an eye on. The 27-year-old striker was a bit out of form after returning from a prolonged injury, but netted over the weekend and may prove to be the spark the team needs up top. After finishing second in team goals for Daegu in 2016 with 11, Cesinha is hoping to round into form as the summer heats up and prove that he belongs in Korea's top flight.

Prediction

Hwang Sun-hong was smart with his starting choices in the Super Match and left himself an unused Maurinho and Lee Sang-ho to man the wings and only played Park Chu-young for a half. Look for those three to start up top and ultimately be too much for Daegu in a closely contested affair.

FC Seoul 1-0 Daegu FC

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