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Preview: Suwon Bluewings vs Pohang Steelers


Suwon Bluewings and Pohang Steelers meet for the first time this season on Sunday afternoon in what is set to be a high scoring and interesting battle between two of Kleague's most successful teams. Pohang will look to continue their fine start to the season, which has seen them score 6 goals in just 2 games, and Suwon will be looking to make it 3 wins in a row. Can Suwon break their home duck or will Pohang win the midfield battle and continue their superb start to the season?
(image via www.the-afc.com/competitions/afc-champions-league)

Last Time Out

Suwon moved a step closer to the knockout stages of the Champions League on Wednesday with a convincing win in Shanghai. A dominant display from the Korean team saw them run out 2-0 winners courtesy of goals from Dejan Damjanovic and Choi Sung-keun. And despite some late pressure from the home side Suwon were never really troubled by a weak Shanghai Shenhua team.

Pohang, meanwhile, were involved in the most entertaining game of the season thus far when they picked up maximum points in Jeonnam last weekend. In a topsy-turvy game full of goal scoring opportunities, both teams were level at the break but with Jeonnam looking the most likely to score and take the lead. However, the dynamic of the game shifted when Kang Hyeon-mu, in goal for Pohang, saved Ha Tae-goon's penalty and almost immediately after Kang Sang-woo put Pohang ahead with a wonderful 30 yard strike. Pohang furthered that lead with a goal from Getterson and although Jeonnam scored a consolation goal late on Pohang comfortably held on for the win which took them to the top of the table.

Previous Meetings

Suwon had the better of the encounters between these teams last season notching two wins and a draw in their head to heads. Infact, Suwon have had the better of these encounters for the past couple of years and you need to go back to the opening game of the 2015 season for Pohang's last win against Suwon.

Suwon had to wait until early May to pick up their first home win in the league in 2017 when a late Santos goal gave them a 1-0 win at home to Pohang. That win was followed up with an entertaining 3-2 away victory at the Steelyard with a Johnathan brace helping Suwon to climb the table. And the final league game between these two teams ended as 1-1 draw as Suwon stuttered their way to a disappointing end of the season.

Team News

Seo Jung-won heads into this game with the same squad available to him as he has had over the past week. However, after having dropped completely out of the squad, despite not having an injury, there may be a recall for right wing-back Cristovam following Jang Ho-ik's poor performance during the Shanghai game.

Although he picked up a slight knock on Tuesday night, midfielder, Kim Jong-woo should be fit enough to continue his fine form in the centre of the pitch. The midfielder has provided a much needed central attacking threat since his arrival back in the starting 11 and was involved heavily in the good play that Suwon produced in China and it was only when he was substituted off the pitch that Shanghai began to grow into the game. If the injury that forced him out of that game is worse than expected then Suwon will have lost a key piece of their midfield.

The Adversary

Pohang weren't tipped by many to do well this season but after two games they sit top of the Kleague pile after two exciting victories. Their home opener saw them win 3-0 and last week they scored a further 3 goals on their way to victory over Jeonnam.

Their new foreign signings seem to have made the difference with Connor Chapman successfully steering the team from the holding midfield slot and up front Leo Gamalho is having a successful start to his Kleague career bagging a brace and an assist in his two games so far. The latter's form will be of vital significance for Pohang this season if they are to get over the loss of star man Yang Dong-hyun, and so far, it has to be said, Pohang have not looked like a team that miss him.

Who To Watch

Given Suwon's lack of attacking threat recently and their inability to get players in and around Dejan the player who could be the game winner for Pohang on Saturday may well be Connor Chapman. The Australian isn't going to create any assists and probably won't get on the score sheet, but because Suwon have been so lifeless through the centre at the start of this season his role infront of the back 4 will be vital. If he can successfully shied the centre backs, Suwon will be forced to play down the flanks, where they have lacked imagination and creativity so far.

If, and it is a big 'if', Kim Jong-woo does start the game then I expect the duel between Chapman and him will be the key battle of the game. If Chapman can monitor his breaks from midfield then Pohang, with their brutal attack, will be well in the game. If, however, Kim Jong-woo continues to play as he had these last few weeks then Pohang could well concede more than the 2 goals they let in last weekend.

Prediction

Suwon have been terrible at home for as long as memory serves but the one constant source of pleasure during that miserable time has been Pohang and I don't think that will change in this game. Pohang have shown that they have an eye for a goal, but they have only played against Daegu and Jeonnam (teams expected to struggle this term) thus far and will face a real test in the form of Suwon. Furthermore, despite Pohang scoring goals, they look very vulnerable in defence. This is the type of game that Suwon desperately need to win and I expect them to do as such.

Suwon Bluewings 2-1 Pohang Steelers

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