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playoffs

Preview: Daegu FC vs. Ulsan Hyundai

Ulsan will head up the motorway to Daegu on Wednesday night full of confidence after beating Gangwon FC last Sunday.  That victory sent Daegu FC bottom of the K League 1 table, still without a win to their name.  Will the Horangi get back-to-back victories, or will Daegu leapfrog Mislav Orsic and co.? Daniel Croydon previews this intriguing encounter for us.
(image via uhfc.tv)


Game: Daegu FC vs. Ulsan Hyundai
Venue: Daegu Stadium
Kick off: 19.30 KST

Last Time Out

Ulsan finally got points on the board in K League 1 with a 3-1 win over Gangwon FC last weekend. It was a tricky tie on paper for the Horangi, coming so soon after the crucial ACL game against Melbourne and with Gangwon having made such a bright start to the season. But a steady first-half performance saw Kim Do-hoon's side lead 1-0 at the break; a delightful flicked finish from in-form striker Junior separating the teams.

Both sides started the second half well, but once Diego had been sent off for his clumsy contact with Orsic in the box, and the Croat slammed the resulting penalty home, Ulsan never really looked in danger. Gangwon kept plugging away but substitute Kim In-sung got a goal just after the hour to ensure Ulsan would finally climb off the bottom of the table.

Ulsan's win means it is now Daegu who are propping up K League 1 with three points from five games.  Last Saturday they travelled to high-flying Gyeongnam and left with a credible point, although having led for much of the game through a towering header from defender Hong Jeong-woon, they were perhaps disappointed not to take home all three.

Saturday's result means Daegu are still winless this year, having lost their opening two fixtures then drawing three games in a row. The Skyblues have failed to score more than a single goal in any of those games, something they will have to change as soon as possible if they want to avoid a prolonged relegation battle.

Previous Meetings

The last meeting between these two sides was in September last year when it ended 3-2 to Ulsan at Munsu. Junior Negrao got two for the visitors that day, which must have caught the eye of Ulsan manager Kim Do-hoon, as he promptly snatched up the Brazilan forward when he became a free agent in the winter.

Daegu fans have to go back to June 2013 for their last victory over the Tigers - a goalfest during which another current Ulsan striker, Hwang Il-soo, scored twice to help his former employers to a 5-3 win.

Ulsan wideman Hwang Il-soo winning MOTM steaks while playing for Daegu 


Who To Watch

The current toast of the town in Ulsan is Junior Negrao. All eyes will be on the ex-Daegu favourite on Wednesday night to see if he comes back to haunt his former club. The 31-year-old Brazilian has scored in successive K League 1 games and has delighted fans with audacious chips and flicks along the way.  Junior made a slow start to his Ulsan career, often coming off the bench to try to rescue points from losing positions.  But he is now very much a first team player and has seemingly relegated Japanese international Yohei Toyoda to the bench.

Prediction

Ulsan looked comfortable and classy against Gangwon and ran out deserved winners. But one win does not a recovery make.  Kim Do-hoon will have to be careful his side does not slip back into losing ways, especially since Ulsan's next two games are against the only two teams below them: Daegu and Seoul.  Any return to the performances of the opening weeks and the question marks over Kim's tenure could be back with a vengeance.

Having said that, Daegu have been struggling to create much going forward this year, having lost so many of the attacking players who made them one of the surprise packages of last year (Junior Negrao being the case in point).

Ulsan's attack will probably be too much for Daegu to cope with. I'm predicting another comfortable Ulsan win.

Daegu FC 1-4 Ulsan Hyundai

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