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Preview: FC Seoul vs Pohang Steelers

Preview: FC Seoul vs Pohang Steelers K League 1
Two teams that are battling it out for AFC Champions League qualification meet on Wednesday night when FC Seoul host Pohang Steelers. Both teams will be looking to get back to winning ways having suffered defeats at the weekend. With just a point separating them, a win for FC Seoul would be enough to ensure Lee Eulyong's men leapfrog the Steelers and into the top half whilst a Pohang victory could see the Steelers move up to fifth.
(image via K League)

Overview

from Soccerway

Last Time Out

FC Seoul 0-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

FC Seoul fell to a 2-0 home defeat to a familar foe in Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on Sunday night. After a frantic start, which saw both teams hit the post in the opening exchanges, Jeonbuk eventually took the lead just past the hour hour mark. Towering centre forward Kim Shinwook's flick-on landed to the feet of Choi Bokyung a yard out who then had the simplest of tasks of tapping home. Initially, the referee's assistant on the far side raised his flag for offside but, after consulting VAR, Seoul striker Bojan Matić was playing Choi Bokyung on and the goal rightly stood. Jeonbuk doubled their lead in the second half when Son Junho let loose with superbly struck long range effort right into the top corner of Yang Hanbin's goal. Ricardo Lopes' initial attempt on goal was blocked but no one picked up former Pohang Steeler Son Junho on the edge of the box. The goal capped off a professional performance for the reigning champions who had previously lost three from their last four in all competitions.

Highlights: here

Pohang Steelers 0-3 Gyeongnam FC

Despite putting five past Jeonbuk in midweek, Pohang Steelers were left reeling from a 3-0 home defeat to Gyeongnam FC. One the leading contenders for the K League 1 MVP award, Marcão, bagged a hat-trick, his second three-goal haul of the campaign. The Brazilian's first came in the 24th minute when Steelers defender Bae Seulki was caught out by the bounce of the ball, allowing Paulinho to glide past and square to his compatriot in the penalty area. The Reds doubled their advantage on 72 minutes when Lee Sangki and Lee Seokhyun stood off of Negueba, allowing the 26-year-old winger to play in Choi Jaesoo who sent in a teasing cross to the edge of the six-yard box towards Marcão. Last season's K League Challenge MVP showed great movement to get past both Woo Chanyang and Bae Seulki before firing home from point blank range. The victory was sealed six minutes from time when Pohang's left back failed to pick up Kunimoto on the right flank, the Japanese's cross met Marcão whose movement bewildered the Steelers backline once again before prodding home.

Previous Meetings

For Pohang's post recent trip to Seoul World Cup Stadium, Kim Seungdae put the visitors ahead on nine minutes after slotting the ball into the bottom left-hand corner. Leo Gamalho played the 2014 Asian Games gold medallist through with a cute flick in behind before Kim created an angle to fire past Yang Hanbin. However, Seoul got themselves back on level terms on 32 minutes, Go Yohan netting his first of two with a close range cushion volley from Anderson's left-footed cross. The game was eventually turned on its head when Go Yohan pounced on a loose ball in and around the penalty spot before steering his effort into the bottom corner. Pohang thought they had levelled soon after through Getterson but the Brazilian's effort was chalked off when the referee, with the help of VAR, ruled that Lee Keunho was in an offside position in the goalkeeper's line of vision when the ball was struck.

The second meeting between these two sides was just last month when Lee Eulyong's men picked up a comprehensive 3-0 win at the Steelyard. Go Yohan, Kim Wonkyun, and Evandro with the goals that gave Seoul their first away victory of the campaign.

The Steelers' last win at Sangam dates back to May 2016 when goals from Yang Donghyun, Shim Dongwoon, and Veselinović gave the Steelers a 3-1 win, Dejan on target for FC Seoul.

There have been 53 previous meetings, of which FC Seoul can boast of the most victories with 24 compared to Pohang's 17 and 12 draws.

Team News

FC Seoul will have leading scorer Anderson Lopes available again after the former Sanfrecce Hiroshima forward was ruled out of the 2-0 home defeat to Jeonbuk Hyundai through suspension. However, centre back Kim Wonkyun, who netted his first FC Seoul goal in the away win over Pohang, will miss out having picked up his third yellow of the campaign on Sunday. Striker Park Chuyoung and defensive midfielder Hwang Kiwook remain a doubt through injury, centre back Hwang Hyunsoo is unavailable due to his participation in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. Former Pohang Steeler Jung Wonjin made his FC Seoul debut coming on as a substitute for Shin Jinho on Sunday, but may have to settle for a place on the bench once again after being hooked just 20 minutes after coming on.

For Pohang, it wouldn't be all too surprising to see major changes to the side in order to address the weekend’s failings. Captain Kim Kwangseok, who was rested on the bench at the weekend, should return alongside his improving centre back partner Alemão, who has been nursing a bit of injury but was fit enough to join Kim on the bench against Gyeongnam. Right back Kang Sangwoo served a suspension in that game and should be back to make up a completely different looking backline this Wednesday.

Though, there will undoubtedly be changes Choi Soonho isn't likely to deviate from his favoured 4-3-3 system especially given the fact that Connor Chapman, sorely missed at the weekend, also returns from suspension and holds the anchor position to that formation. In other team news, joint top scorer Brazilian striker Gamalho returned from injury against Gyeongnam coming off the bench. Fellow Brazilian Teixeira is on the mend too and might take up a surprise substitute position when the East Coast side visit the capital this Wednesday. However, Lee Jinhyun is not available; much like Seoul's Hwang Hyunsoo, Lee is currently with the South Korea Asian Games squad in Jakarta. Lee Seokhyun is line to make his first appearance against FC Seoul since making the move to Pohang during the summer transfer window.

Pohang Team News by Ross Davis

The Adversary

The emphatic victory over champions elect Jeonbuk in last Wednesday’s midweek game was well and truly forgotten by the end of this weekend’s 3-0 humbling at home to Gyeongnam. In truth it could have been more; second choice defensive partnership of Bae Seul-gi and Ha Chang-rae were both highly culpable for the first two goals at the weekend and were generally outfought and outmatched for the entirety of the game. On the whole the entire team put in a characteristically inconsistent performance and gave the ball away countless time against a ruthless opponent.

The defeat was the team’s joint worst of the season tied with another disastrous home performance against this Wednesday’s opponent FC Seoul. Coach Choi Soon-ho shouldn’t escape the blame for both of those defeats, especially given his choice of lineup provided no defensive minded midfielder in the latter defeat. However following that Seoul defeat he did ring the changes and the Steelers then went on to keep two clean sheets in the next two fixtures, and even won the subsequent away game. 

by Ross Davis

Who To Watch

Lee Keunho

Lee Keunho (R) celebrates scoring against Jeonbuk in R22 (Image via K League)

Not to be confused with the current Ulsan Hyundai striker and Korean International, Pohang Steelers' Lee Keunho arrived on the professional scene this season having joined from Yonsei University over the winter. The 22 year-old possesses excellent technique, poise and balance and has taken the step up to the K League in his stride. From 10 starts Lee Keunho has three goals and three assists and, judging from his strike against Jeonbuk, Lee isn't not afraid to shoot from distance. His first professional goal came in the East Sea Derby defeat to Ulsan but has since followed that strike up with goals in wins over Jeonnam Dragons and the aforementioned wondergoal against Jeonbuk. Lee was involved in the U23 Asian Championships in January, scoring three times as Korea went onto finish in fourth place.

Prediction

Both FC Seoul and Pohang Steelers will be looking to make amends for their respective defeats at the weekend and both will have key players back in contention. Anderson Lopes will add some much-needed penetration up front whilst Connor Chapman will help shore up the Steelers' back four. Pohang looked uneasy with players running at them against Gyeongnam and so if Seoul's more direct players like Evandro and Cho Youngwook start and can get the Steelers on the back foot, Lee Eulyong's men might just get the result they need. However, it was only a week ago since Pohang put five past Jeonbuk and will be determined to keep their place in the top half of the table.

FC Seoul 1-1 Pohang Steelers




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