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Preview: Ulsan Hyundai vs Daegu FC

K League 1 Preview: Ulsan Hyundai vs Daegu FC

After two games on the road, Ulsan Hyundai return to Munsu on Sunday evening to host an improving Daegu FC.  The Horangi have struggled to find consistency since the World Cup break, whereas the visitors have won their last two away from home. Can Daegu make it a hattrick? Ulsan columnist Dan Croydon previews this one, with help from Muyeol Jung
(image via kleague.com)

Overview

Game: Ulsan Hyundai vs. Daegu FC
Date: Sunday, July 22nd, Kick-off 7.00pm KST
Venue: Munsu Football Stadium, Ulsan

Last Time Out

Gangwon FC 3-3 Ulsan Hyundai

For 80 minutes this was a thoroughly dull affair with neither team really showing any quality in the final third.  However, as defensive legs tired and the sticky summer night's air clouded the players' minds, the game exploded into life.  First came headed goals from Uros Đerić and Lee Keun-ho in the 83rd and 85th minutes respectively. K League's top scorer Đerić then looked to have won it in the 90th minute with a cracking 30-yard strike, but in fact, things were only just getting started. Just a minute later Ulsan substitute Lee Young-jae curled home an even better equalizer, before Lee Keun-ho popped up on the back post to bag his second on the night against his former employers.

With the scoreline at 2-3 going into the third of four added minutes, an all mighty ruck broke loose in the Ulsan area. As the ball surfaced, fullback Lee Myeong-jae went shoulder to shoulder with Gangwon's Lee Hyun-sik and the latter went to ground. Ulsan then broke away and Hwang Il-soo looked to have clinched the tie with Ulsan's fourth, but his smile quickly disappeared as the referee signaled for VAR. After a full five minutes of review, Gangwon were awarded a penalty for Lee Myeong-jae's barge. Diego stepped up and missed, but the rebound fell kindly Moon Chang-jin who leveled the score with the last kick of the game.

And thus ended one of the most sublimely ridiculous but utterly enthralling ten minutes of K League football ever. At the final whistle, the players trudged off dumbfounded by what had just happened. With six goals in the blink of an eye, a point apiece hardly seemed to do either side justice.  It must have felt like three games packed into just a fraction of one.

Video Highlights here

Previous Meetings

Daegu have never won a game at Munsu Stadium. In fact, the Sky Blues have managed to take just four points from their trips to Ulsan in their entire sixteen-year history.  They came closest to victory on the opening day of the 2013 season, but 89th and 90th minutes goals from Kim Chi-gon and then Kim Shin-wook meant it finished 2-1, breaking Daegu hearts once again.

The most notable recent encounter came in September last year. Ulsan came out on top yet again in a see-saw tie that ended 3-2.  A certain Brazilian marksman, Junior Negrao netted twice for Daegu that evening, which must have caught the eye of the Horangi leadership, as now, less than 12 months later, Junior is Ulsan's leading scorer and is one of the first names on Kim Do-hoon's teamsheet. 

Team News

With temperatures in Ulsan consistently over 30 degrees centigrade, even in the evenings, Kim Do-hoon has been forced to make full use of his squad. Lanky centreback Hong Jun-ho, signed from Gwangju just a few weeks ago, played as a makeshift frontman against Gangwon, as Junior was rested until the hour mark when Kim sent him on in search of goals.  Expect the Brazilian to lead the line in this game, however, as Ulsan are often more adventurous at home.

Fans' favourite Lee Young-jae will be hoping to start in midfield (Image via K League)
Lee Young-jae will be hoping his glorious goal on Wednesday evening will be enough to earn himself a place in the starting lineup, although he may miss out to new signing Mix Diskerud. Meanwhile, Lee Jong-ho was a surprise omission from the squad that drew with Gangwon. The striker is yet to start a game since his return from injury, but the fact he did not even make the bench left a lot of Ulsan fans scratching their heads.

The Adversary

With a very busy fixture list and the sizzling weather, Daegu players looked very tired in their last match against Pohang, which saw them eventually lose 1-0. Since the World Cup break, Daegu have used the same eleven players in a 3-4-3 formation. Compared to the first half of the season, their performances have improved thanks to the addition of some decent new players. However, there are still some problems to iron out. Attacking is heavily dependent on Brazilian trio Edgar, Ze Roberto, and Cesinha who seem isolated upfront as a result of the team being outnumbered in the midfield area. In a post-match interview, Daegu manager Andre implied that there would be some changes in his selection for the Ulsan game due to fatigue. And the extent of those changes could be pretty big as some are inevitable.

Due to disciplinary actions, Cesinha and Hwang Soon-min will not be able to play at Munsu. They are key players in this squad and missing them at the same time is a huge loss for the visitors. Instead, Cho Suk-jae and Jung Sun-ho are likely to start. In the back three line, captain Han Hee-hoon is expected to return and Hong Jung-woon could be deployed as a defensive midfielder. Elsewhere, the youngster, Jung Seung-won,  could replace Ko Jae-hyun on the right wing. The other places will be taken by regular players as usual.

- Muyeol Jung

Prediction

History alone says an Ulsan win is the most likely result. Add to that the fact Daegu are missing some key players and it becomes an even easier one to predict.  It may not be as simple as they would hope, but Ulsan will come out on top

Dan's Prediction: Ulsan 2-1 Daegu

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