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Preview: FC Seoul vs Ulsan Hyundai

Go Yohan FC Seoul
After two games on the road FC Seoul return to home comforts for the visit of Ulsan Hyundai this Sunday. Seoul endured a less than flattering start to the campaign, struggling to break out of the bottom half, but have four points from six from their first two games back following the World Cup break. Ulsan Hyundai, meanwhile, can boast of a clear sight of the ACL places and head to Sangam having lost just once 11 before falling to Jeonbuk in midweek and so will be looking to get back on firmer footing come Sunday.
(image via K League)


From Soccerway

Last Time Out

FC Seoul picked up an extremely valuable away win at the Steelyard on Wednesday night, comfortably dispatching Pohang Steelers in a 3-0 victory. Caretaker manager Lee Eulyong made several adjustments to the starting lineup, including to opt for a back four and to push new captain Go Yohan to the wing along side Anderson and Lee Sangho, who came in for Evandro.

It didn't take long before Seoul got their noses in front, Anderson Lopes found space in the box and, on the turn, played the ball across the 18-yard box to Go Yohan who slotted the ball past Steelers stopper Kang Hyunmoo in the 16th minute. A second followed seven minutes before half time, centre back Kim Wonkyu rising at the edge of the six-yard area to nod home a corner.

Seoul thought they had a third when Evandro tapped home from close range at the second attempt after seeing his initial effort saved but replays confirmed that Hwang Kiwook was marginally offside. Evandro did get on the scoresheet eventually though, putting the gloss on a spirited Seoul performance in the 90th minute after putting away Cho Youngwook's rebounded strike from off the post. The much-deserved win moved Seoul up to eighth and just three points off the top six.

Highlights: here

Ulsan Hyundai were involved in the K League Worldwide Live match for round 16, hosting current champions and league leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai at the Munsu. With the score level at 0-0 at the interval, and with both teams going for broke, it looked as though the result could have gone either way. Eventually, just after the hour mark, it was Jeonbuk who drew first blood when attacking midfielder Lee Jaesung put the visitors in front with a diving header. Lee Donggook put daylight between the two sides on 77 minutes, finding space in the box with a trademark finish. The defeat means that Ulsan are still three points away from the ACL places but 15 behind Jeonbuk who maintained their 10 point lead at the top.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

For the first meeting between FC Seoul and Ulsan Hyundai in 2018 it was the Horangi who clawed away all three points. A 1-0 win at the Munsu thanks to a Junior penalty was enough to separate the two sides back in April this year. Said victory was Ulsan's first over Seoul in three years with the most recent win over the capital club dating back to 8th March 2015 when then-Yoon Junghwan's side ran out 2-0 winners. Yang Donghyun and Server Djeparov with the goals.

However, Seoul haven't tasted defeat at home to Ulsan in four years, a Kim Shinwook strike on 59 minutes in round 19 of the 2014 season remains the last goal to beat Seoul on their own patch. FC Seoul's last win over Ulsan was at the tail-end of last season, a 3-0 win at the end of October kept their slim ACL hopes alive thanks to goals from Lee Myeongju, Osmar, and Dejan.

Overall, these two sides have met on 51 occasions and have a fairly even record - Seoul have 16 wins, Ulsan 14, and 21 draws.

Team News

For FC Seoul, long term absentees Ha Daesung and Song Jinhyung will continue to be sidelined. Caretaker gaffer Lee Eulyong was quizzed about the midfield pair in a press conference earlier this week and revealed that Ha Daesung is still recovering from a calf problem and isn't expected to be back any time soon. Song Jinhyung should be ready for a return in a couple of weeks, however. Fellow midfielder Kim Seongjun was stretchered off during the 3-0 win over Pohang with an apparent calf problem but should be available for the visit of Ulsan. Coach Lee also hinted that Shin Jinho could also make a return to add to his midfield options. Seoul have no suspensions to worry about but Shin Jinho, Kim Jeongcheol, and Lee Sangho are all just one more yellow away from suspension.

Positive news for Ulsan fans as striker Lee Jong-ho continued his long journey back from injury with another cameo appearance on Wednesday. However, Junior's good form is likely to mean Lee will start on the bench for this game too. Korean National Team stars Park Jooho and Lee Keunho are still on the injury list. Elsewhere, Lee Changyong will most likely keep his place in midfield. The 27-year-old returned from military service at Asan Mugunghwa last week and went straight into the Horangi starting lineup against Jeonbuk. Meanwhile, Kim Dohoon could hand a debut to new loan-signing Sergio Escudero against his former club. The naturalized Japanese winger made more than 100 appearances for the capital club between 2012 and 2015.
-Dan Croydon

The Adversary

Ulsan's eleven game unbeaten run finally came to an end on Wednesday night with a strangely routine defeat to league leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Ulsan did create openings in the first half, but the result was never really in doubt as the Champions controlled the game in relative comfort.

With attacking options like Junior, Hwang Ilsoo and Lee Jongho, Ulsan have the personnel to trouble any defence in the league. But not for the first time this season Kim Dohoon's men seemed to be holding back against a team above them, scared to bare their claws in case they winded up on the wrong end of a mauling.  This softly-softly approach against their top half rivals is clearly not working, but positive results against the teams below seem to be enough to keep manager Kim Dohoon in a job. This makes this weekend's trip to the capital a litmus test of Kim's ambitions. FC Seoul are traditionally one of those rivals, but they continue to blow hot and cold this season. It will be fascinating, therefore, to see how much respect Kim pays to his hosts. A full-strength, full-blooded attack from Ulsan would probably be enough to take home all three points. But with their risk-averse Poindexter Kim holding tight to the leash, we may be lucky to see anything more a glimpse of the Tigers' teeth.
-Dan Croydon

Ulsan Hyundai Starting XI Vs Jeonbuk R16

Who To Watch

Junior Negao

Junior Negao (L) is Ulsan's top scorer this season (Image via K League)
Having made the switch from Daegu to Ulsan over the winter Brazilian forward Junior Negao has become an important player for the Horangi this term. The 30-year-old is Ulsan's top scorer and, had it not have been for an injury layoff, might have added more to his tally of six. Those six goals have proven to be extremely valuable for Kim Dohoon's men as they make up for at least six points having scored a brace in a 3-2 win over Sangju Sangmu and the winner against FC Seoul the last time these two sides met, not to mention goals in wins over Daegu and Gangwon. Pace and unpredictability are qualities that Junior adds to Ulsan's game, something that the team were perhaps missing last season. Junior was part of that dynamic front three which helped Daegu finish eighth last season along with Evandro, now of FC Seoul, and Cesinha.


Seoul welcome Ulsan on the back of four points picked up from two away games and so will be full of confidence. That said, Seoul have endured a stop start season and just when it appears as though those donning the red and black stripes are about to turn the corner, a disappointing result follows. Also, 21 out of 51 meetings have ended in draws and it would not be at all surprising if, after Sunday, it becomes 22 from 52. Ulsan may look to play it safe on the road and Seoul find it difficult to break teams down. The first half will be pivotal; if Seoul get off to a bright start then, as they have done on a number of occasions this season, go on to get as result.

FC Seoul 1-0 Ulsan Hyundai

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