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Preview: Sangju Sangmu vs Jeonnam Dragons

Fresh from a 1-1 draw away to Ulsan Hyundai, the Jeonnam Dragons will attempt to extend their unbeaten run to three games when they travel to Sangju this Wednesday evening at 7:30 to face Sangju Sangmu FC in Round 11 of K League 1. However, the visitors will have to be on their toes as the home side are unbeaten in four and currently lie five places above them in the table in fifth place. Can the Dragons add to their points total or will Sangju prevail? Aodan Halligan previews this Wednesday's big game.

The Dragons Last Time Out

Despite a slow start, the Jeonnam Dragons maintained their impressive away form last Saturday as they claimed another valuable point in Ulsan. The deadlock was broken in the 38th minute after Dragons' right back Lee Seul-chan was penalized for a nudge on ex Dragons' star Mislav Orsic while he was attempting to head in a cross at the edge of the six yard box. And even though Ulsan's Croatian winger angered the away team and supporters with his theatrical reaction to the contact, he stepped up himself and sidefooted the penalty into the top-right hand corner of the net.

The Dragons responded almost immediately, however, through their 21-year-old attacker Kim Kyung-min. The young striker restored parity after reacting quickest to a wayward shot from Jeonnam's Brazilian striker Macedo inside the six yard box. It was Kim's first ever goal in only his fourth appearance as a professional footballer. And the young striker grew in confidence after that and almost scored a goal of the season contender on the stroke of half time after chesting the ball down around 30 yards from goal. The striker turned quickly and left two Ulsan defenders for dead before beating Ulsan keeper Kim Yong-dae with his left foot strike. However, the ball struck the right hand post and Ulsan escaped.

There were a few more chances for both sides in the second half, but no more goals in the game so the Dragons earned another away point.

Full Time: Ulsan Hyundai 1 Jeonnam Dragons 1
Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Sangju Sangmu and the Dragons last met on October 28th 2017 in Sangju. Both teams were stuck in a relegation battle at the time and played out a tense 0-0 draw.

The sides met each other five times in the league last season, with Jeonnam edging things overall. The Dragons won two of those games, whereas Sangju only won one. Interestingly, Sangju failed to beat Jeonnam in any of their home games.

And Jeonnam lead the head-to-head battle overall, having won 22 of the 39 games played between the teams. The military side have only recorded eight victories in those games.

Team News

Jeonnam will be without influential midfielder Vedran Jugović on Wednesday. The Croatian, who's received more game time than any other Jeonnam player this season, tore a muscle in the draw against Ulsan last Saturday and is expected to be out for two to three weeks. He joins left back and top goalscorer Choi Jae-hyun on the injury list. Choi's recovering from knee surgery and will be absent for the next two or three months.

So Dragons' head coach Yoo Sang-chul will have to shuffle his pack once again. And Yoo could find it hard to replace box-to-box midfielder Jugovic as the Dragons don't really possess a similar player. Nevertheless, Han Chan-hee may be asked to take the Croatian's place. Wanderson has been deputizing well for Choi Jae-hyun at left back so the Brazilian may be used there again.

However, with the Dragons due to play their fifth match in 14 days this Saturday against champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in Suncheon, Yoo needs to rotate carefully. Jugovic's injury may have been avoided if he were used sparingly as suggested here last weekend. Professional players - particularly midfielders - in the modern game can't be expected to play so many games in such a short period of time.

The Adversary

Despite being forced to play all of their first ten matches away from home and being one of the favorites for relegation preseason, Sangju Sangmu have surprised most people with their start to the season and currently find themselves fifth in K League 1. And with the military side now set to play their next six matches at home, they may even find themselves further up the table this summer.

Considering the fact that Sangju have yet to play a home match this season, their statistics aren't really comparable to other teams in K League 1. Nevertheless, 14 points from ten away games works out as 1.4 points per away game - an excellent return on the road. Sangju have scored 10 goals so far (an average of one per game) and have conceded nine (0.9 per game).

Last Saturday they played out a 0-0 draw in Seoul - a game which proved to be the final nail in the coffin for ex FC Seoul manager Hwang Sun-hong. The visitors had to soak up a lot of pressure in the second half, but held on for an impressive point.

Highlights: here.

Who To Watch 

After his debut goal in the K League, Dragons' striker Kim Kyoung-min is probably the player most people have their eyes on this week. The 21-year-old attacker will surely keep his place in the side after last weekend's performance and will no doubt be hoping to add to his goal tally for the season. Kim has a great first touch, quick feet and a sweet left foot. What's more, he possesses the X-factor to do something special and worry most defenders in K League 1. Will Sangju be able to deal with him on Wednesday?


Strangely enough, the Jeonnam Dragons have looked at home, away from home, this season and will be looking forward to their trip to Sangju. Jeonnam have only been beaten once on their travels this season - a 3-0 defeat against champions Jeonbuk - and even then were in contention until Lee Seul-chan's red card late in the game. The Dragons have frustrated some big sides on the road already such as Suwon and Ulsan, so Sangju will probably have their work cut out. Indeed, if Yoo Sang-chul can achieve a better balance to his side at home, the Dragons will finish the season far higher up in the table. Nevertheless, as already mentioned, Sangju Sangmu are in fine form and thus this one could go either way.

Ultimately, though, I think both teams will probably end up sharing the spoils.

Sangju Sangmu  1 Jeonnam Dragons 1

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