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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Gangwon FC

Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Gangwon FC in K League 1
The Jeonnam Dragons welcome Gangwon FC to Gwangyang Football Stadium this Saturday afternoon at 2 pm in round eight of K League 1. The bottom-of-the-table hosts, who find themselves in the unenviable position of having more red cards than victories in 2018, need a big performance this weekend to rebuild confidence for the season. Meanwhile, visitors Gangwon FC are in dire straits themselves and need to stop the rot after a run of four successive defeats. Will the Dragons reignite their season with a moral-boosting win or will Gangwon be the latest team to leave Gwangyang in good spirits? Aodan Halligan previews this weekend's big game.
(image via KLeague])

Last Time Out

The Jeonnam Dragons crashed to their second consecutive 3-0 defeat after another disappointing afternoon in Jeonju against champions Jeonbuk Hyundai. And even though the scoreline was harsh on the Dragons, they only have themselves to blame after indiscipline cost them once again.

Dragons' right-back Choi Jae-hyun was the first player to lose his head, conceding a needless penalty after climbing all over ageless Korean star Lee Dong-gook in the box. And Lee stepped up himself to convert the penalty - sending Dragons' keeper Park Dae-han the wrong way in the process.

Then, an inexplicable lapse of judgement from Dragons player Lee Seul-chan in the 87th minute effectively ended the visitors' hopes of getting something from the game. The right-back swung his left elbow at Jeonbuk defender Choi Bo-kyung in the Dragons' penalty box, giving the referee no option but to pull out his red card and award the hosts another penalty kick.

Lee's second penalty was saved by Dragons' keeper Park Dae-han, but the striker helped himself to his second goal of the game a few minutes later - heading the ball into the top-left corner of the net from 12 yards out. Lee Jae-sung added a third in the 95th minute after waltzing through some tired legs in the Dragons' defense.

Full Time: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 3-0 Jeonnam Dragons
(Highlights: here.)

Vedran Jugović Post Match Interview

Meanwhile, Gangwon FC slumped to their fourth consecutive defeat last weekend, away to Daegu United. The visitors fell behind in the 26th minute of the game after a brilliant counter-attack from the hosts - Brazilian star Cesinha heavily involved once again. The brilliant attacker chested the ball down in midfield and then split the Gangwon defense wide open with a through ball for teammate Kim Kyeong-joon. And even though Kim still had quite a lot to do, he outpaced three Gangwon defenders before finishing low into the left corner of the net.

Gangwon improved after the break and were presented with a golden opportunity to get back into the game when Daegu forward Jung Chi-in was sent off for a reckless two-footed sliding tackle on Gangwon defender Park Sun-ju. Thankfully, the Gangwon defender recovered from that tackle and one of his free kicks shortly after resulted in the equalizer. Daegu defender Han Hee-hoon received credit for the goal, however, as his attempted headed clearance of the free kick looped over everybody in the Daegu defense and nestled in the top-right corner of the net.

Gangwon then sought to make the most of their numerical advantage in the last few minutes, but some appalling marking from them while defending a corner kick gifted the home side the lead in the 86th minute - Kim Jin-hyeok applying the finish. And ten-man Daegu held onto that lead for the rest of the game so the visitors suffered another very painful defeat.

Full Time: Daegu FC 2-1 Gangwon FC

Previous Meetings

The Jeonnam Dragons have a great head-to-head record against Gangwon FC. Of the 22 games played between the two sides, the Dragons have won eleven, while Gangwon have only won two. The remaining nine games between the sides resulted in draws.

Both of the games played between the sides in Gangwon last year finished as draws. Last September, the teams drew 3-3 and in July they drew 2-2.

The Dragons won the only game between the two teams in Gwangyang last April and, even more encouragingly, have yet to taste defeat against Gangwon on their own turf.

Can the home side preserve this impressive record this weekend?

Dragons' Team News

Once again suspensions dominate the Dragons' team news this week, with Lee Seul-chan becoming the fourth Dragons' player this season to receive a three-match ban.  Two of the other three will also miss this weekend's game - Han Chan-hee and Wanderson. Surprisingly, Australian center-back Tomislav Mrcela has been fit and raring to go for the last two weeks, but Dragons' coach Yoo Sang-chul has yet to make use of his services. With the suspensions stacking up and the Dragons leaking goals - left, right and center - surely Tommy will get some game time this week. 

The Adversary 

Gangwon FC in action versus Daegu last weekend
(image via K League)
After a great start to the season, Gangwon have lost four games on the bounce. The thing is though, apart from in their match against Gyeongnam, Gangwon have been probably the better team in those games. They produce plenty of chances, and have one of the best forward lines in the league in Đerić New signing Uros Đerić has four goals and three assists already this season, Lee Geun-ho is going to Russia 2018, Jo Jong-gook was the K-League’s top scorer in 2016, Diego scored 13 goals last season and two already this season and he can’t even get in the Gangwon team.

Gangwon’s problems come at the other end of the pitch; only Jeonnam have conceded more goals than Gangwon so far this season. Gangwon are particularly susceptible to counterattacks from the wings, conceding in this way against Ulsan and Daegu recently. A cross into a big target man also causes their central defenders problems, and then there are times when the defenders make mistakes all by themselves, like the mishit clearance that led to Daegu’s winner last week, or Dylan McGowan’s own-goal against Suwon.

Gangwon try to defend from the front, pressing their opponents into making mistakes (Đerić especially is good at this), and they like to attack quickly when they have the chance. Being able to score and concede at will, Gangwon won’t give their fans too many goalless draws this season.

by Steve Price


Dragons' head coach Yoo Sang-chul
(Image via K League)
Both sides are in free-fall and need to get something from this weekend's game. I can't see either team keeping a clean sheet and so I think that it could be a very exciting game. Of course, it goes without saying that the Dragons need to keep all their players on the pitch for the first time in four matches - head coach Yoo Sang-chul has to take some responsibility here, but the players also need to show more maturity out on the field. For instance, right back Lee Seul Chan has struggled for game time this season so why on earth did he decide to lash out with his elbow last week? I mean, he's hardly going to endear himself to his head coach doing that.

Nevertheless, if Yoo can control his players this Saturday and the Dragons manage to finish with eleven men, I think they'll be able to match the visitors on the day.

Jeonnam Dragons  3-3 Gangwon FC

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