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Writer's Chat: Daegu FC vs Suwon Bluewings

Both Daegu and Suwon head into this week's round of Kleague Classic fixtures coming off morale boosting wins. Daegu dealt with Pohang, beating them 2-1, whilst Suwon dismantled Jeonnam at home by 3 goals to nil. But with both teams still in desperate need of points and with the end of season split just around the corner, this game promises to be a shootout against two teams that have rediscovered their goal scoring touch in recent games. Here, our regular Daegu columnist, Muyeol Jung, and regular Suwon columnist, Scott Whitelock, discuss the implications on both ends of the table that the result of this game may have. 

Here, Scott Asks, Muyeol Answers

SW: After appointing Andre as full time manager it appears that Daegu have turned a real corner and are beginning to pull themselves away from the relegation battle which they found themselves mired in at the beginning of the season. What exactly has the manager done to produce such a dramatic shift in results?

MJ: Before I get started, I must say, I was amazed by Daegu's recent improved form. First of all, it seems he finished testing all his preferred formations and combination of players he has at his disposal. A quick look through the squads he chose will reveal a big contrast among them. After several tests, he seems to have finally found out the best formation suitable to his playing style, which is 3-4-3. Until this summer's international break, Daegu used to switch both flat 3 and 4 systems frequently. However, now it seems the flat 3 system is now well rooted and the harmony with both wing backs is great.

Another thing he did was discover his preferred combination of players and playing them in positions that they feel comfortable with. Especially, the three Brazilians at top end of the pitch have been given free roles regardless of the position they are assigned. In addition, integrating new faces into the squad gave him more cards he can take out and put other players into competition.

SW: In a season with few high points and few standout players in the Daegu squad, who would you say has been the most consistent performer for Daegu this year? And who will carry Daegu to safety if they are to avoid relegation this year?

MJ: In terms of the consistency, the top three players are interim captain Han Hee-hoon, South Korean national team goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo, nicknamed Dae Gea (combination of Daegu and David de Gea), and Playmaker Kim Sun-min. They have been regular starters unless they are injured.

Han Hee-hoon, central defender, has made 26 appearances so far, ranked in the first among Kleague squads. He is not that skillful, but is loved by Daegu supporters because he always does more than his job on the pitch. The GK has been wearing the gloves for Daegu since 2013. He has recorded 6 clean sheets this season. The last player is Kim Sun-min with 6 assists from 25 games. He is more of a diligent and energetic midfielder. His through pass to Junior last game was absolutely beautiful.

In order to move further away from the bottom of the table, what we all need is enough goals. So, I believe Junior may be the player to enable Daegu to move higher in the table and navigate their way to safety. Some fans, including me, were skeptical of the decision that Junior would join us instead of Leo, currently playing at Busan I’Park. But those views have clearly gone now after he scored 4 goals from 5 games. If he does as much as he has done thus far, that will pay off at the end of the season.

SW: What is your prediction for this game? Where do you think this game will be won and lost?

MJ: On paper, this looks like a game that Daegu should lose. However, if we take advantage of a Johnathan-less Suwon, we could seal seal a vitally important victory.

The problem is actually the attacking. The fact that Cesinha was sent off last game and will not be able to play is significant for Daegu but Kim Sun-min will be available to replace him and harmonize with the other two Brazilians well as usual. Besides, who will be positioned at right wing-back is another variable that could cause danger in the defensive line as Hong Seung-hyun, played at right flank was also sent off. One thing clear is that Ivan Franic is not available for the time being due to an unconfirmed medical problem.

SW: Score Prediction?

MJ: Daegu FC 1-1 Suwon Bluewings

Muyeol Asks, Scott Answers

MJ: Suwon put in a sublime performance over Jeonnam FC and sealed the victory when Bluewings hosted the Dragons last Sunday. It seems like a perfect result for Suwon considering the hosts poor home form. How important was the win over Jeonnam as there are only 5 games left until the split?

SW: In terms of their standing in the table, last week's victory wasn't exactly season defining as they remain in 4th place. However, when you take into account Suwon's terrible home form and Jeju's dropped points then it would be fair to class it as a huge win.

Moreover, what is perhaps more satisfying is that the squad showed that it is capable of producing champagne football even without the presence of star striker Johnathan. Suwon didn't just win that game, they well and truly destroyed a lackluster Jeonnam side and the scoreline could have been atleast double what it was. I had commented recently that Suwon will suffer without the presence of Johnathan but last week's performance was enough to suggest that I, along with many other people, may have overlooked the immense quality in other areas of the squad.

MJ: Suwon have been operating all season with a back 3 which is a big change compared to the flat 4 they used to have. Who do you think is best defender in the Suwon squad? And what combination of players do you think is the best for the flat 3?

SW: I personally feel that there isn't much difference in quality between Koo Ja-ryong and Matthew Jurman, and they are the two best defenders at the club. They both differ in the defensive styles but both are quality defenders who should be more involved with their national team set ups.

Matthew Jurman has been an important addition to the squad since his winter arrival from Australia. Every casual fan of the Kleague can see that he brings a lot of passion and aggression to a team that can often be soft centered. Whereas Jurman is a strong, aggressive defender, Koo Ja-ryong is more of a cultured defender. He is not known for his strength but his asset is his pace and his ability to recover after making a mistake. His pace sets him apart from most other defenders in Korea and it is because of that strength why Suwon can operate with such a high backline in most games.

Interestingly enough, neither of those players made the starting 11 last weekend as Seo Jung-won opted for an experimental starting 11 but with the injury to Yang Sang-min in that game it is likely that there will be changes for this upcoming game.

MJ: If Johnathan doesn't play this weekend it will be a huge shame for many Daegu fans hoping to see Johnathan return to his former club. However, there is another big record for you and K League. What is the possibility that captain, Yeom Ki-hun, will accomplish either his assists record or 60 goals in total this Saturday?

SW: Well, with the quality that he possesses, I would say that it's likely that he will score or create an assist every time he is on the pitch. And giving that he was a 2nd half substitute in last weekend's game it is more than likely that he will start this game having had a little rest.

He is 34 now, but his fitness is still extremely impressive and he shows no signs of slowing down. Given his current condition it wouldn't be beyond the realms of reality to see him playing when he is 38 and with another 4 years who knows what types of records he may continue to smash.

MJ: Score Prediction?

SW: Daegu FC 0-1 Suwon Bluewings

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