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Preview: Gangwon FC vs Ulsan Hyundai

Gangwon haven't got going after the summer break with three draws from three games. Their next two games are at home so it's the perfect chance to get that first win of July. First up is 5th place Ulsan who picked up a draw against Seoul at the weekend. Both sides will be looking for a win to close the gap on the Champions' League places. Steve Price previews Gangwon's match against Ulsan on Wednesday.


Last Time Out

Gangwon have only had two goalless draws all season, but they have both come against Pohang. The first of those was quite entertaining; the second, not so much. Gangwon tried to make it interesting by throwing in a few of their trademark defensive calamities. Lee Jae-ik had a complete lapse in concentration on ten minutes and was forced to bring down Gamalho in the box for a penalty. Gamalho sent Lee Beom-young the wrong way with his run-up, but then put his spot kick past the post. Gangwon nearly won the game at the death when Diego hit the post from a free kick in the 89th minute, and Uroš Ðerić had a shot saved from close range in the 95th minute, but the game finished nil-nil for Gangwon's third draw in a row.

Ulsan Hyundai continued their good away form last weekend with a draw against FC Seoul.  The result made it six games unbeaten on the road for the Horangi.  They took the lead with a goal from youngster Han Seung-kyu who rounded the keeper after a superb one-two with Lee Young-jae.  Ulsan seemed to be cruising into the interval when they suddenly gave away a needless freekick on the edge of the box. Seoul debutant Yun Suk-young’s cross-cum-shot sneaked in on the back post and the teams went in all-square at half-time.  And so it finished, despite some good chances for both teams in the second half, most notably for Ulsan’s Escudero who was facing his former employers.

Before the game Ulsan manager Kim Do-hoon asked his players to play with more aggression than they did in that lackluster defeat to Jeonbuk last week, and his players certainly delivered.  But they will have to be a bit more intelligent about where and when they put in the stronger challenges with set pieces being such a dangerous part of the modern game.   

Previous Meetings

Last time these two sides met, Gangwon came out at Ulsan and attacked them from the off but got caught out on the counter attack several times after their full backs pushed too far forward. Early in the second half, Ulsan hit Gangwon on the counter attack and Diego took one for the team, giving away a penalty and getting a red card for his troubles. Uroš Ðerić pulled one back for Gangwon but conceded another to lose three-one.

Team News

Gangwon have been experimenting with different formations recently, with Valentinos and McGowan in central midfield in some games. And with two games a week, its likely that there could be some rotation either on Wednesday or at the weekend. Diego is slowly forcing himself back into the side with some good performances off the bench so might get a start. 

The Adversary

The success of Ulsan’s season hangs on just one thing – qualification for the Asian Champions League.  And things are looking okay at the moment with just four points separating them from the all-important top four. However, Kim Do-hoon will be aware that the teams below are starting to catch up.

We all know Ulsan have struggled for goals during Kim Do-hoon’s reign, but there were signs in the second half against Seoul that Kim now has the options upfront to play with more urgency and intensity in the final third.  The club have made it clear they are backing their manager by signing the attacking talents of Sergio Escudero and Lee Keun-ho to play alongside a fit again Lee Jong-ho and the club’s top scorer this season, Junior.  If they can add goals to their notoriously stingy defence, the Horangi may well be in the ACL draw for the third year running.

All this makes this Wednesday’s trip to Gangwon a vital test of Ulsan’s top four credentials. Kim Do-hoon’s men must continue to take points off the teams below them if they are to avoid getting into a mid-table quagmire.  The good news for Ulsan fans is their excellent record against Gangwon in recent years. The Horangi have won seven of the last eight encounters, including the last five in Gangwon. So with the form book clearly on their side Ulsan will be confident they can take maximum points from this match and put some daylight between themselves and the chasing pack.

One To Watch



Jeong Seok-hwa joined Gangwon from Busan in the summer and has cemented himself into a Gangwon attacking line full of talent. He scored a cracking free kick against Jeonnam earlier in the season, but his passing and tricky runs are one of the main creative outlets for Gangwon. Without Lee Geun-ho to create chances for Gangwon, far more responsibility will fall on Jeong Seok-hwa for creating chances for Gangwon.


Prediction

Gangwon need a win, but their attacking style will suit Ulsan who are always tough to break down. I feel Ulsan will be a bit too much for Gangwon on Wednesday.



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