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Preview: Daegu FC vs Jeonnam Drangons

The international breaks gave K League 1 fans some rest, while it gave the teams chances to evaluate their performances thus far and iron out some issues. The time off was particularly important for Daegu’s newly-appointed full-time manager, Andre, as his team have made a slow start and are eager to push on between now and the World cup. Andre’s finetuning efforts will be tested this Saturday at Daegu Stadium when the hosts meet the Jeonnam Dragons, ranked 8th in the table.

(image via Daegu FC Facebook)

Last Time Out

Daegu traveled up to the north to take on Incheon in the hope of getting their first win this season. Unlike the previous two games, there were a few surprising choices made by Andre with a few youngsters included and Jean dropped out of the squad. Daegu went with a back four, abandoning the three-man defense used in the previous match, which conceded five goals. Daegu made numerous mistakes at the back once again, but Cho Hyun-woo saved them on several occasions and kept them in the game until the final whistle was blown. Attacking wise, Daegu failed to break the deadlock, but they showed some improvements and created a few chances to score. Ultimately, Daegu had to settle for a single point but the transformation in tactics and line up partly paid off and gave the visitors their first point of this season.

Meanwhile, Jeonnam invited the newly promoted side, Gyeongnam to Gwangyang to fight for three points. The hosts had lost to Pohang at home 2-3 the week before and they needed to bounce back with a victory, while Kim Jong-bu’s Gyeongnam ship had been cruising smoothly with two wins and an unbeaten record in the top-tier of Korean football. The hosts breathed a sigh of relief thanks to the assistance of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) when the visitors were denied a first penalty decision early in the first half. However, Jeonnam weren’t able to keep the visitors at bay much longer and Gyeongnam scored the first goal of the game in the 22nd minute, courtesy of Negeuba after a one-two with Marcao. And the visitors then doubled their lead on the stroke of half time. In the second half, Jeonnam came back strongly and Lee Gyeong-ryul scored to bring them back into the game. Unfortunately, a few minutes later, the gap became even wider as Gyeongnam were given a penalty, which Marcao converted, and the scoreline stayed the same so the hosts lost 3-1.

Previous Meetings

The last clash between Daegu and Jeonnam dates back to November 2017. It was the last round of the season and Jeonnam were in danger of being dumped into a relegation playoff spot, whereas Daegu were very relaxed with a spot in next year’s newly-branded K League 1 secured. The game was a bit easy for Daegu and the visitors didn't exactly prove their K League 1 credentials. Daegu eventually triumphed 1-0. And fortunately for the visitors, results were kinder elsewhere, so they finished above Sangju on goal difference and secured a place in K League 1 for the 2018 season.

But this year, Jeonnam have changed 180 degrees. New head coach and former Ulsan University manager, Yoo Sang-chul, has made the team completely different to last season as they are far more dynamic and energetic. So this clash between the two teams will be a lot different than the ones from last season.

Team News

During the international breaks, Daegu had two games in the reserve league and recorded one win against Ulsan and a goalless draw against Daejeon. Daegu used the two games to give key players chances to get themselves fit and Jeon Hyun-chul, Jung Sun-ho, and Jung Seung-won were tested up front and in midfield. In the match against Ulsan, especially, Daegu seemed to obtain some confidence. They scored four goals in the game and this will no doubt improve morale as they haven't scored in the league so far this season When Daegu hosted Daejeon, it ended in a goalless draw, and even though it was a disappointing result, the performance wasn't that bad and there were a few changes in line up compared to the previous reserve match. Overall, Daegu have been desperate to get some players match-fit and get them up to speed, tactically, so these reserve games were very welcome.

Meanwhile, Brazilian ace Ceshinha, is expected to make a first appearance of this season as he has been sidelined until now due to injury. Having him back in the squad will be huge boost for Daegu as they’ve lacked a creative spark in the league so far this season. It is still not confirmed whether or not he will be able to play a full 90 minutes, but news of his return is very exciting for Daegu fans and will certainly worry Jeonnam.

And Cho Hyun-woo, who has just arrived at Korea after his international duties, will be back between the posts. During the break, he didn't get a chance to prove his ability for the international team. However, because of that, and since the World Cup is fast approaching, he’ll probably feel even more compelled to show off his skills to the nation.

The Adversary

The Jeonnam Dragons take a much-needed road trip to Daegu this weekend after their struggles at home this season. In fact, the Dragons home and away records couldn’t be more different - having won their solitary away game and lost both of their home games. The 2-1 away victory at Suwon, came as far back as March 1st - on the opening day of the season - and the Dragons have struggled since, losing 3-2 at home to Pohang and 3-1 at home to Gyeongnam. So, can the Dragons return to winning ways in Daegu?
A lot will depend on the defense. Ka Sol-hyeon, who was exemplary in central defence at Suwon and even voted into the K-League 1 Team of the Week 1, was given a two-match suspension after an off-the-ball incident versus Pohang and will be forced to miss his second game in a row. And with their other first-choice centre-back, Tomislav Mrcela (‘Tommy’), still struggling with injury, the centre of defence is a real concern once more.
Of course, new head coach, Yoo Sang-chul, didn’t really help Jeonnam’s cause last time out by making so many changes, especially in defence. The Dragons made six changes in total, with four of those coming at the back. True, Lee Kyung-ryul was an enforced change at centre-back after Ka’s aforementioned suspension but Go Tae-won was preferred to Yang Jun-ah as centre-back, Lee Yoo-hyeon came in for Lee Seul-chan at right back, and, even more surprisingly, Lee Ho-seung was replaced in goals by new-signing Jang Dae-hee.
Though it’s easy to say with the benefit of hindsight, changing four of the back five is simply madness, particularly since some players were making their first appearances of the season. Besides, although Lee Ho-seung didn’t have one of his best days in goals against Pohang, he was excellent against Suwon and thus probably deserved another chance. But Yoo signed Jang from Ulsan for the new season for a reason and perhaps he wishes to make him his new number one.
The Dragons need a big performance against Daegu and it’ll be interesting to see what formation and line-up Yoo goes with this weekend. The head coach used 4-2-3-1 and 4-5-1 formations in previous games, but will he be tempted to try something different this time? Ha Tae-goon, who was benched last time out after his penalty miss against Pohang, could be in line for a recall as the Dragons need someone to hold the ball up top. The six-foot-two Korean striker impressed away in Suwon and his replacement against Gyeongnam, Macedo, may have to play deeper, further advanced or even on one of the wings. However, the Brazilian should get a starting spot as he’s far too good to leave on the bench. Thus, 4-4-2 is a distinct possibility, although I think Yoo will go with three forwards: Wanderson, Ha and Macedo. And new club captain Kim Young-uk could make the bench for the first time this season.
Nevertheless, despite recent struggles, and no matter how Yoo decides to set his team up, the Dragons will be quietly confident of bringing home at least a point as Daegu have only one point to their name thus far this season.

by Jeonnam Dragons Columnist Aodan Halligan

Who To Watch

No other player in our side will be more threatening and troublesome to the visitors than Cesinha. Daegu’s fans, players and even head coach Andre have no doubt been ardently awaiting his return to the pitch as he was sidelined for a couple of weeks due to a knee injury (watching his team lose twice in the process). Last season, he scored seven goals and seven assists from a total of 27 appearances. His presence on the pitch gives us more sharpness and creativity and helps us create more chances. Given the fact that he is very competitive, he will be chomping at the bit to be involved and trying harder than most to secure the hosts their first three points of the season.


Muyeol: This match won't be as easy as the one against Jeonnam in last season, but Daegu are overdue a good result and with Cesinha and the youngsters involved I think they’ll get one.

[Daegu FC] 2-1 [Jeonnam Dragons]

Aodan: I haven’t called any of the Dragons’ games correctly so far, so I’m not feeling too confident about this week’s prediction! Nevertheless, I think it’ll be a very close one.

[Daegu FC] 2-2 [Jeonnam Dragons]

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