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Preview: Pohang Steelers vs Jeonnam Dragons

8th placed Pohang Steelers take on 10th placed Jeonnam Dragons this Saturday at the Steelyard. Pohang will be looking to put more distance between them and their opponents, and in the process move into the top half of the table. Jeonnam have other concerns as encouraging performances haven't produced many results and an improving Daegu FC right behind them in the table means results are all-important.


Last Time Out

Daegu FC 0-1 Pohang Steelers

Pohang got a much needed win on the road against Daegu FC midweek, and crucially scored their first goal since the World Cup break. In truth, Daegu will feel a little unlucky not to have taken at least a point as they created the far clearer opportunities and were either wasteful or found Kang Hyun-mu in his usual good shot-stopping form. In particular Daegu's Cesinha will look back at this game and wonder how he didn't score as he missed a couple of gilt-edged opportunities in the first half.

Pohang's chances were mostly restricted to long-range efforts with striker Gamalho. In a rare away start, the Brazilian put in a good effort stinging the palms of Asian Games call-up and man of the moment Cho Hyun-woo in the opening period. Daegu failed to see this as a warning and it was left full-back Kang Sang-woo who got the only goal of the game with a 20-yard crisp strike early in the second half. It was Kang's second goal of the season; his first came against this Saturday's opponent. But, in all honestly and given his current form you might have expected Cho to save it, although powerfully struck, he did manage to get two hands on it.

Daegu upped the tempo and peppered the Steelers' goal with shots. But, despite winning their recent speciality, a 90-minute corner, and even sending up Cho, they were unable to breach the Pohang backline. The East coast side made the short journey home with all three points that will ease the pressure on Choi Soon-ho who had been looking rather forlorn at the end of games recently, but looked delighted with this result.

Highlights here

FC Seoul 2-1 Jeonnam Dragons

Jeonnam will also feel slightly aggrieved not to have taken at least a point from a game where they had been the better side in for long spells and indeed had led at half-time. The hosts had Yang Han-bin to thank for the three points and not for the first time this season. The Seoul shot stopper produced a series of top-drawer saves to deny Jeonnam from getting a deserved point in the capital. Yang could do absolutely nothing to prevent the opener from Heo Yong-Joon, who received the ball in lots of space and promptly walloped it into the top corner from 30 yards out. It was the lead that the Dragons' play had deserved.

The second half had only just began when Jeonnam had a favourable three on two break and a great chance to double their lead. Heo this time from inside the box produced a tame finish and Seoul were let off the hook. The lead lasted until the 65th minute when Seoul broke away and a combination between Brazilians Evandro and Anderson produced a good stop from the keeper; the rebound fell to Seoul youngster Cho Young-wook who duly applied the finishing touch.

The game was turned on its head a minute later when FC Seoul were awarded a penalty for handball. Half-time substitute Anderson dispatched it for a 2-1 lead that they would hold onto for a vital three points. The remainder of the game saw both sides create good openings but as a late Choi Jae-hyeon header sailed just past the post Jeonnam knew the game was up and they would be returning home with no points despite the very willing performance.

Highlights here

Previous Meetings

Historically Pohang has edged this encounter with 18 wins to the Dragon's 12, and with 13 draws sandwiched in there it's clear that it's a pretty competitive fixture. Although, Pohang has got the better of it recently. Jeonnam have failed to win any of the last five meetings, two draws the best they have mustered, but both coming away from home.

The first encounter this year was only the second game of the season and the Steelers ran out 3-2 winners at Jeonnam. The worrying thing for the Dragons would be that Pohang have put three past them in three of the last five meeting. But on the flip side both sides have managed to get on the scoresheet in those games.

Team News

The home side should expect the debut of recently signed on loan Brazilian right back Alemao. His arrival should see Choi stick with Gamalho up front in the hope that Alemao can provide the service he is in desperate need of. The midweek game saw only one change from the previous weekend's team so as this is the fourth game in two weeks expect some rotation in Pohang's standard 4-3-3 formation. Perhaps Kim Seung-dae will be given a breather having completed all 360 minutes of football since the League restarted.

For the away side James Donachie is expected to return to the starting lineup having been rested on the bench at Seoul. But there will be no return for midfield workhorse Jugovic, who presumably is still celebrating his country's run to final.

The Adversary


18 matches into the 2018 season Jeonnam find themselves scraping around the bottom of the table. After watching their last match against FC Seoul, there's no reason to believe their league position isn't reflective of their play thus far.  Although the Dragons have been competitive in most games, especially on the road,  giving up late equalizers and game winners have been the Achilles heel for this team.

Coming out of preseason, players remarked about how much fitness and physical play was emphasized. As a result, the Dragons have shown their superior fitness all season, leading one to believe that metal toughness is lacking from the top when it comes to closing out games. Moreover, the style of play emphasized from the manager and lack of rotation in key positions has led to unnecessary injuries, further complicating their drive to be a top six team.

On that note, the Dragons will be taking on a Pohang side that has looked very inconsistent without a few key players. I’d be surprised if we don’t start in a 3-4-3, play behind the ball and look for chances on midfield turnovers. Creativity will be hard to find this weekend and a mistake will determine the outcome. 2 – 1 Dragons

- Alex Meyer

Prediction

A win in midweek may have been much needed and hopefully boosted the confidence of the home team, but I wouldn't bet on Pohang being out the woods yet. Jeonnam used their width in the 3-4-3 well against Seoul, who play the same system as Pohang, and I would expect them to exploit the same space this weekend. Jeonnam will definitely score in this fixture but the confidence gained from the win against Daegu will see Pohang earn a point.

Pohang Steelers 1-1 Jeonnam Dragons



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