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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons v Jeonbuk Motors

The Jeonnam Dragons host K-League leaders Jeonbuk Motors in Gwangyang this weekend for the second Jeolla derby of the 2017 season. Jeonnam columnists Alex Meyer and Aodan Halligan assess the Dragons' chances of pulling off an upset and avenging the injury-time defeat in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season. It's eighth versus first in what's sure to be another fiercely competitive game.
(image via dragons.co.kr)

Last Time Out (Aodan Halligan)

Bottom club Incheon United were the visitors to Gwanyang on a blustery evening last time out in week 13 of the K-League Classic. And coach Noh-Sang-rae sprang a surprise just before kickoff with his team selection. 

Jeonnam Dragons Hungarian Striker Róbert Feczesin
(image via yonhap.co.kr)

Róbert Feczesin (pictured above) was restored to the lineup and made his first home K-League start since the Pohang defeat in week four and played a full 90 minutes for only the fourth time this season. The 31-year-old Hungarian striker, who has primarily been used away from home, presumably for his ability to hold up the ball, was tasked with spearheading Noh's attack in a 4-2-3-1 formation. 

                                                   (image via dragons.co.kr)

But yet again it was Brazilian number 10, Jair (above), who got the Dragons off to a dream start after just 12 minutes. The 29-year-old timed his leap perfectly to meet Kim Young-wook's inswinging free-kick and then glanced a glorious header into the top corner of the net.

The goal, which was remarkably similar to the one he scored against Gwangju in week nine, demonstrated the predator's prowess in front of goal once more, and seemed to suggest that he can score with his head from wherever he pleases.

That strike stirred Incheon into action, however, and Han Suk-jong missed a great opportunity to restore parity moments later- blazing a left foot effort, from barely ten yards out, over the bar. The midfielder's poorly controlled effort brought sarcastic cheers from a relieved home crowd.

Kim Do-hyuk was next to go close for Incheon with a lovely left-foot curler from 25 yards out - forcing Dragons' keeper Lee Ho-seung into a fine save. Moon Seon-min then tried his luck from outside the box and his brilliant dipping effort was heading for the top left corner of the net until Lee Ho-seung somehow managed to tip it over the bar - a sensational save!

On the counter, Jair then went for the juggler by beating two defenders and drawing a good save from Incheon's keeper, Lee Tae-hee. But Jeonnam's number 10 was determined to wreak havoc and after his next foray forward, the ball dropped kindly for Korean midfielder Choi Je-hyun to make it two nil.

Croatian midfielder Vedran Jugović's beautifully weighted cross-field ball in the 45th minute then set Jair on his way once again, but the Brazilian still had a lot to do.

Nevertheless, a fine bit of chest control took him past the last defender and even though Incheon's keeper Lee Tae-hee stopped the initial effort, Jair was on hand to blast in his second goal of the game (and his ninth goal in 12 K-League games).

Thus, Jeonnam went into the halftime break three goals to the good.

But Incheon upped the ante in the second half and only the underside of the crossbar denied ex Jeonnam favorite Weslley an early reply, but with Kim Do-hyuk inexplicably missing the rebound, it looked like it wasn't going to be Incheon's day.

However, Incheon were then gifted the goal their play deserved in the 61st minute, when a high ball over the top caught out Jeonnam's defense. And Lee Hoseung, who was well off his line, was beaten by Lee Hyo-gyun's near-post effort.

                                            (image via eng.kleague.com)

Lee Ho-seung (above) made up for his poor positioning just minutes later, though, with another super save - pushing Moon Seun-min's powerfully struck volley, which was heading straight for the bottom left corner of the net, outside the post.

Moments later Song Si-woo's clinical half-volley from seven yards out made the score 3-2 and brought Incheon right back into the game. 

Yet it was the Dragons who came closest next as a post denied Jair another hat-trick, and Feczesin should have sealed victory with a free header from six yards out, failing to even hit the target (if only it had fallen to Jair).

Incheon enjoyed 61% of hte possession overall, but Jeonnam - thanks to another five star show from the K_league's top scorer, Jair, and some scintillating saves from Lee Ho-seung, held on to record a desperately needed win.

Final score: Jeonnam 3 Incheon 2.

A Look at the Opposition: Jeonbuk Motors (Alex Meyer)

                                       (image via hyundai-motorsfc.com)

Jeonbuk Motors come down south with impressive road statistics. They’ve conceded 0.33 goals per match and scored at 0.83. Although they only have 2 wins on the road, they only have one loss. Combined with 3 draws, they are a tough team to score against and beat when they come to town. Their defense has been big all season posting seven clean sheets making it no wonder why theyre top of the table.

However, with just 5 goals in 6 away games, they are missing that home advantage that comes with their always enthusiastic crowd and obnoxious song and dance that has buoyed their average to 1.71  home goals scored per game. Or it could be their cozy history with refs at home! Either way they aren't scoring much on the road but more importantly for them, they are conceding less. The Dragons, who can turn it on at home, need to somehow break through and score a deuce.

                                                 (image via hyundai-motorsfc.com)
The man to keep an eye on is # 99 Kim Shin-wook (above).  With 6 K-League goals already this season, he is a dangerous forward. If the Motors find the back of the net twice, they most likely will be leaving with 3 points and marching on to another title.  Fortunately, I don't see that happening. Jeonbuk look pedestrian at best on the road in the offensive third, with a lack of creativity making it easy for any coach to figure them out and shut them down.  

Lets just hope they haven't gotten to the refs like they seemed to do in week one when Alex Ferguson-style stoppage time ('Fergie Time') allowed them to steal the winning goal!


Aodan: Our defense needs to protect Lee Ho-seung's goal a lot more than it has been at home all season and Jair needs to have another blinder. Unfortunately, I can't see the former happening and thus I predict a relatively comfortable win for Jeonbuk.

Jeonnam 1 Jeonnbuk 3.

Alex: Dragons 2   Jeonbuk 1. 

1 comment

  1. I try very hard to be a gracious winner because I know what it's like to lose. More than that, I know what it's like setting records for losing. So when one of my teams pulls out a win, it is important for me to remember that the nickname for soccer is "The beautiful game." Game. A child's thing.

    I actually didn't read this preview until Monday afternoon at the suggestion of someone else. My first thought was, "Banter in a piece? No harm no foul I suppose." I assumed this was posted before the 16th.

    Mate, how dare you casually drop a reference Jeonbuk's bribery scandal the day after he overpaid for his sins? There is a man who felt so humiliated for cheating at an ultimately meaningless activity that he took his own life. I wonder how his family is doing tonight?

    My hope is is that this preview was, indeed, written early last week and that you were so overly careless in your proofreading that you missed it before the "publish" button was clicked.


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