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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons v Jeju United

The Jeonnam Dragons welcome Jeju United to Gwangyang Football Stadium this Wednesday evening at 7.30 pm in round six of K-League 1. Can the Dragons add to their points total for the third game in succession or will Jeju leave Gwangyang with all three points? 
(image via http://image.besteleven.com)

The Dragons Last Time Out

The Jeonnam Dragons maintained their unbeaten away record in 2018 after a 2-2 draw against Incheon United last Saturday. It was a spirited performance by the visitors as  they were reduced to ten men after 55 minutes and had to come from behind twice to claim a share of the spoils. In fact, the Dragons were a goal down after just nine minutes when Mugosa side-footed the ball into the bottom-right corner of the net from around eight yards out. But they got back into the game in the 30th minute when Wanderson's left-foot strike deflected off Park Jong-jin and went into the bottom-left corner of the goal. Han Chan-hee's controversial dismissal after 55 minutes put the home side back in control and it looked like they'd snatched victory in the 90th minute when Mugosa beat Dragon's keeper Jang Dae-hee again - this time with a wonderful glancing header. However, the ten-man Dragons had other ideas and Choi Jae-hyun stroked the ball home into an empty net in the 95th minute to restore parity once more after Lee Seul-chan's brilliant left-foot strike had hit the post. It proved to be the last goal of the game and the Dragons continued their impressive run on the road. (Highlights can be seen here.) 
The Dragons celebrating after the final whistle at Incheon last Saturday
(image via www.facebook.com/dragonsfc/photos)




Dragons' Team News

Dragons' midfielder Han Chan-hee will be suspended for the game after his red card against Incheon last Saturday; therefore, head coach Yoo Sang-chul will have to shuffle his pack once more. But Yoo's changed his starting eleven regularly this season and has experimented with different formations so finding a replacement for Han shouldn't prove too difficult.

Last weekend, Yoo employed a 3-4-3 formation for the first time this season and decided to go without a recognized striker, with Park Joon-tae operating as a false nine, and the Dragons got another good result. Thus, will he opt for the same?

Perhaps, but since the Dragons are at home this time many would expect Yoo to be more adventurous so Macedo may be drafted in.

On the other hand, the Dragons have shipped a lot of goals at home so far this season (six goals in two games) so Yoo will want to tighten them up at the back and consequently he could adopt a cautious approach once again. Australian center back Tomislav Mrcela ('Tommy') might help him here as he's a few training games under his belt now and could be used in a back three.

Nevertheless, the Dragons have to play champions Jeonbuk away this Saturday (their third match in seven days) so if I were a betting man, I'd wage that Yoo will rotate his team once again and the Dragons will revert to a back four, with Tommy having to settle for a place on the bench.
Jeju United
(image via jeju-utd.com)

The Adversary (by Branko Belan)

Jeju are coming off a draw against Sangju, and it didn't look good.  They were lucky to get a point.  Sangju had the better of the chances throughout the match, while Jeju are still looking for a combination up front that could bag them a few goals.

It's hard to imagine that a team which has been a spark for goals the past few seasons could be struggling this badly as Jeju are so far this season.  This team has talent, but they can't seem to put it together right now.

The performance of the club thus far has been nothing short of uninspiring, and it begs the question of when things are going to take a turn for the better.

Cho Sung-hwan is very much an embattled manager right now, and it's unlikely that he is the man to guide Jeju through the season, even if it is only early days.  The players don't seem to be responding to his tactics, and it's only a matter of time before a change at the helm is to be made at this point.

Falling out of the Champions League as they did to Cerezo Osaka only compounds matters further.  This team has not played with a sense of urgency likened to the Jeju teams of recent years.  Change could be on the horizon soon enough, and it could be the thing the team needs, as they struggle to cope with early season woes.  It very well could be another long night on the pitch for the islanders.

Previous Meetings Between the Sides

Jeju United enjoyed playing the Jeonnam Dragons last season as they took seven points out of a possible nine in the three meetings between the sides. The islanders, who were imperious at home last year, won both home ties by two goals (2-0 and 3-1). However, Jeonnam earned a point from their only home game, drawing 2-2 last July in one of the standout games of the season at Gwangyang. Can the Dragons hurt United again?

Prediction

Boasting just one victory apiece, Jeonnam and Jeju haven't made the best of starts and  are neck and neck in the table - sitting seventh and eight respectably. The Dragons have struggled at home so far and have the shakiest defense in the league, having conceded 10 goals in five games (an average of two per game), whereas Jeju have only scored one goal this season (an average of 0.2 goals per game). So have the islanders got the firepower to take advantage of the Dragons' dodgy defense?

I have my doubts and feel that Dragons' head coach Yoo Sang-chul will finally get his team's balance right at home.

[Jeonnam Dragons] 2-1 [Jeju United]





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