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The K League Coach: Suwon Scouting Report

How did the much-hyped Suwon Bluewings vs FC Seoul game turn into a derby that offered little in the way of excitement and left some serious questions hanging over both teams? Suwon were perhaps still hurting from the heavy defeat to Sydney FC and carried that into their approach to the game judging from their performance in the Super Match.
(image via zimbio)

Game Information

Team: Suwon Samsung Bluewings
Opposition: FC Seoul
Date: April 7th 2018
Competition: K League 1 Round 5
Number of report: No. 1

Match Overview

A much-hyped game against long-standing rival FC Seoul turned into a rather non-eventful match. Very few chances created by either side, and even a red card midway through the second half did little to change the flow of the game ending 0-0. Earlier in the week Suwon was beaten 4-1 at home in the AFC Champions League vs Sydney FC, so may have had taken that into account with their tactical approach to this fixture.

Starting Line up

On paper 3-4-3 is and attack-minded strategy, removing one man from the defensive third and moving him into the attacking third. It is also well suited to a high pressing strategy as it offers the ability to overload opposition defenders in possession. However, Suwon used the shape in a much more defensive manner. With wide players dropping back, it played out more as a 5-4-1. Suwon made three substitutions during the game, but altered their shape very little. Even following the red card, when defending the striker, Suwon dropped back to complete the same defensive line.

Attacking Organisation

  • When in possession Suwon's back three spread wide across the field and use their GK to help retain possession if pressed. The two CM's, Choi Sungkeun and Kim Jongwoo, on occasion did drop in to help circulate the ball, but this is not the main focus of the attack. 

  • The wide midfielders, Jang Hoik and Lee Kije, would push high and try to create overloads in wide areas alongside one of the wide strikers, You Jooahn and Yeom Kihun.

  • Restarts from the GK, Shin Hwayong, were often played short to one of the back three.

  • A common pattern of play for the defence was to play the ball out wide then directly up the line, hoping to create a 2vs1 against the Seoul full back and search for flick ons.

  • If the FC Seoul midfield had slid across and out numbered Suwon on the flank, then a cross field diagonal switch ball was hit hoping to find the same overload scenario on the opposite flank.

  • They struggled to find passes into the feet of their wingers, Jang Hoik and Lee Kije, and wide forwards, You Jooahn and Yeom Kihun, and were rarely successful in building any attacks off these long balls

  • The two central midfielders offered little in terms of creating attacks.
  • Though their striker, Dejan, is strong in the air, they preferred to play into the channels, perhaps hoping to play to Dejan once in a more advanced position.

  • Defensive Organisation

    • Suwon would drop to behind the half way line when Seoul had possession.

    • Striker Dejan would stay central and in Seouls half but offered minimal pressure.

    • They would organise into two lines with both sets of the wide players dropping back to create a 5-4-1.

    • Once Seoul crossed the half way line Suwon aggressively pressed the ball.

    • The line of four midfielders focused on denying balls into the Seoul attacks through central channels, often being as tight as the centre circle.

    • As the opposition were forced to play into wide areas the fullbacks would burst forward to press.

    Offensive Corners

    • Suwon ran one planned corner kick in the first half. Four players line up at the far post. They stand tight so opposition defenders can not get in between and man mark them. The furthest player from the ball runs around the front while the second furthest hangs back looking to attack the far post and flick ons.

    • The same routine was used when Suwon had a free kick near the corner flag late in the game.

    Defensive Corners

    • Suwon were very concerned about an opposite corner routine that focused on attacking the near post.

    • Five players were assigned zonal duties, all focusing on the near post area.

    • Four other players were tasked with man marking and blocking runners.

    Key Players

    • 5. Jo Sungjin - Central defender in the back three. Strong 1-on-1 defender and anticipates the game well. Often pulled into wide areas, but quickly dealt with threats and would recover shape.
    • 10. Dejan Damjanovic - Though hardly a stand out game, the Suwon system is designed around Dejan's ability in the box. He has little mobility, so is asked to contribute little in regard to pressing or build up in the middle third, but in front of goal is an excellent finisher. He relies on service into his feet or accurate crosses.


    • Suwon were disciplined in maintaining their defensive shape.
    • They denied central penetration and forced the oppositions build up play out wide.
    • The three central defenders are strong 1-v-1 players.
    • They were happy to spend long periods without possession and maintained focus.


    • Dejan can become isolated and lacks the mobility to win long inaccurate clearances from the defence.
    • The three central defenders quickly resort to long high passes that can be predicted and cleared.
    • The central midfield pair rarely combine to build play centrally.
    • Their full backs can, on occasion, become isolated and caught out when racing to press. With midfielders so determined to defend centrally. One of the rare chances created in open play came in the 21st minute when Seoul flicked the ball around the fullback rushing to press.

    Defensive Recommendations

    • Be aware of Suwon overloading our full backs. Ensuring our central defenders or defensive midfielders are prepared to come into wide areas and help defend is key.
    • Pressing their back three when in possession can result in long panicked clearances and easy turnovers.
    • Dejan will be the target for most set piece deliveries.

    Attacking Recommendations

    • Only play one holding midfielder, 2 central defenders, a goalkeeper and one deep midfielder will be enough to play around the low pressure from Suwon during build up in our half.
    • When switching the ball across the back, play as quickly as possibly.
    • Try to create overload situations on their full back as they step out to press.
    • Be willing to push men forward and  go 5vs5 with their back line when they sit deep in such high numbers.
    • Avoid placing too many players centrally between their defence and midfield as the passing channels into this area are well protected.
    • Play short balls out from the goalkeeper and quickly advance to the half way line.

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