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Preview: Daegu FC vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

K League 1 Preview: Daegu FC vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

With both sides coming into this match on the back of comfortable FA Cup victories against lower league opposition, Daegu FC and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors return to K League 1 action this Sunday, each without one of their World Cup stars. Will the home side's backup goalkeeper be a match for the visitors who must now adjust to life without their star midfielder?
(image via K League)

Last Time Out

Both Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Daegu FC were in FA Cup action this week, each recording comfortable victories and avoiding the possibility of an upset. Jeonbuk traveled down to Busan where they faced National League outfit Busan Transportation Corporation FC. Manager Choi Kang-hee, who claimed earlier in the season of targeting a triple haul of trophies, made significant changes to his backline and goalkeeper, yet selected a midfield and attack that would strike fear into most of their fellow K League 1 contenders, featuring Adriano, Tiago, Lopes and last season's top assist maker Son Jun-ho.

Surprisingly, Jeonbuk mostly laboured after an early Tiago goal opened proceedings with a header spilled into the net by the 'keeper. The North Jeolla side seemed content with staying in second gear throughout and conserving their energy in Korea's recent unprecedented heatwave. The visitors doubled their lead midway through the second half through the efforts of Adriano and a lovely Lee Dong-gook assist, before the hosts were rightly awarded a penalty and a subsequent lifeline after the spot kick was converted by Ahn Su-min. Jeonbuk quickly poured cold water on any hopes of a comeback though with Son Jun-ho scoring the visitors' third, thereby ensuring their progression to the next round.

Highlights can be found here.

Later that evening, Daegu FC played host to Yongin University, and ran out comfortable 4-1 victors. After a goalless first half, recent signing Ze Roberto scored twice in succession to give the home side the lead, before the student outfit pulled one back from the penalty spot. Like Jeonbuk, Daegu promptly quashed any hopes of a comeback with Cesinha also bagging himself a brace and ensuring the K League 1 side were not embarrassed.

Highlights can be found here.

Previous Meetings

These two sides last met in Round 11 in Jeonju, with Jeonbuk on an impressive run of nine clean sheets in a row across all competitions. While the home side did eventually clock up the win, it came at a heavy price, with centre-back Kim Min-jae being injured and ruled out of the World Cup weeks laters. With Jeonbuk struggling for defenders at the time, they called upon benched striker Kim Shin-wook to fill in at centre-back, in which he did an admiral job at keeping the Daegu attack at bay.

In their 34 meetings, Jeonbuk unsurprisingly have the upper hand with 19 wins to Daegu's seven. The last time Daegu enjoyed victory over their counterparts on Sunday was back in 2012, when they claimed an unlikely 3-2 victory away in Jeonju.

Team News

Both teams have significant team news coming into this one, yet it feels only right to start with the one related to perhaps the biggest K League story this week. Jeonbuk midfielder and reigning league MVP Lee Jae-sung has finally made his long anticipated move to Europe, where he is set to play for 2.Bundesliga side Holstien Kiel. Since making his professional debut, Lee has held a pivotal role in nearly all of Jeonbuk's recent successes and will certainly leave a void in the middle of the field.

You can read our extended thoughts on the transfer here.

Jeonbuk manager Choi Kang-hee has long been preparing for this departure though, and the likes of Son Jun-ho, Lim Sun-young and Lee Seung-gi will be more than serviceable replacements for the departed Lee Jae-sung, even if none can fully match him for talent.

There are no players suspended for Jeonbuk ahead of this fixture, but left back Kim Jin-su still remains doubtful as he struggles to overcome a long-term injury picked up back in March.

Daegu FC are suffering with suspensions however, with their superstar goalkeeper Jo Hyun-woo set to watch from the stands after receiving a red card for handling the ball outside of the penalty area. They are however set to welcome back Hwang Soon-min and Cesinha from their recent bans.

The Adversary

Due to a very busy fixture schedule and a nationwide heatwave, the Daegu players have looked exhausted, forcing Andre to rest burnt-out players for the midweek FA Cup game against Yongin University. Frankly speaking, I expected a higher extent of rotation, but Andre’s selection was a bit conservative. I can tell the line-up was presumably intended to give some players more minutes and restore confidence by scoring goals.

The first half did not go to how Daegu planned, but in the second half, Ze Roberto’s early two goals put Daegu 2-0 up and made the game easy for the hosts. Afterwards the visitors pulled one goal back with a penalty, but Cesinha’s brilliant finishes near the end gave Daegu fans a sizeable amount of comfort. Even though it was a lopsided win against a university team who is apparently much lower side, it was definitely worthwhile in terms of seeing Ze Roberto score twice and bouncing back with a victory at home.

In the coming match against Jeonbuk, Hwang Soon-min is expected to return from suspension. So too is Cesinha, but there is also a very narrow chance that he might be sidelined as he was stretchered off in the cup with what it looks like a concerning injury. Among other options in attack, Edgar, a big headache for Jeonbuk in ACL, and Cho Suk-jae, a former Jeonbuk player, will be ready and I really hope they will make some more memorable history in Daegu shirts on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the World Cup rising star Jo Hyun-woo is unavailable due to the dismissal in the previous game, where he denied Junior’s goal scoring opportunity with a handball outside the penalty area. His place will be handed over to Choi Young-eun, who is about to make his first K League debut for Daegu. For the 22-year-old GK, it is going to be a very huge challenge playing against league leading side. Park Han-bin, who stopped Jeonbuk’s nine game clean sheet record earlier this year, is also expected to make the squad. For the hosts who are struggling with lack of creativity and diverse options in attack, having him back in the team will certainly shore up things in the midfield area.

- Jung Muyeol

Prediction

While Jeonbuk are undoubtedly going to miss Lee Jae-sung, there's no denying the depth they possess in order to adequately replace him (on the domestic front at least). Daegu on the other hand could really rue the loss of goalkeeper Jo Hyun-woo who has been riding on a high since his eye-catching World Cup displays.

With an inexperienced goalkeeper in Jo's place, in a team that is second from bottom facing the runaway league leaders, does make the result seem a forgone conclusion in the visitors' favour. Daegu may find some joy in their attack though, and could at least come away with a consolation in what should ultimately be a comfortable Jeonbuk victory.

Predicted Score: Daegu FC 1-3 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

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