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Writers' Chat: Suwon Bluewings vs FC Seoul

K League 1 Super Match Preview: Suwon Samsung Bluewings vs FC Seoul

Suwon Bluewings host FC Seoul for the third installment of K League 1's Super Match, on Wednesday evening and you can expect the regular fireworks. Both teams come into this in desperate need of improving their place in the table and a win is a must for both blue and red sides of this derby. Here, our Suwon columnist, Scott Whitelock, and Seoul columnist, Paul Neat, take a look at what to expect from the biggest game in Korean football. 

Scott Asks, Paul Answers

Scott: Seoul’s win on Saturday gave them their first league win since mid-July? How has the capital team’s form been as of late and does that victory paper over some cracks? 

Paul: Seoul’s form has been very hit and miss since the World Cup. Whilst Lee Eulyong’s team have picked up a decent number of victories, and put the likes of Pohang and Jeju to the sword with convincing 3-0 wins, points were dropped to relegation-threatened Incheon and then Seoul were dumped out of the FA Cup to a poor-looking Jeju side just last week. Those 3-0 wins aside, some of the victories have been a bit laboured and haven’t been all that convincing. That said, Seoul have only lost twice in the league in eight outings and have got themselves back into the race for the top six and perhaps even ACL qualification. After the win over Jeju it was imperative that Seoul followed it up with another victory, they did that against Sangju. There have been too many occasions over the last couple of seasons where Seoul have begun to appear as if they are turning the corner but then fall flat with a poor result; a win in this Wednesday’s Super Match would be the kind of victory that could really show that Seoul are back on track.

SW: The last Super Match was decided by the troublesome pair of Anderson and Evandro, with their pace and aggression being too much for the Suwon backline. Do you envisage that both of them will be in the starting lineup on Wednesday? 

PN: Anderson seems undroppable and will almost certainly start down the middle. I can only speculate but there must be a clause in his contract whereby he must start because he has often started games ahead of Evandro or Cho Youngwook. He may lack a bit of grace and his finishing can lack precision but he has contributed. Thus far, the 24 year-old has five goals and four assists in the league, Go Yohan has five goals and three assists for reference.

Evandro has his qualities and is very direct which is something that Seoul can lack; all too often Seoul try to walk the ball in or they don’t know how to carry the ball towards goal. Evandro does that and was beginning to strike up a good understanding with Anderson before the World Cup break but can’t get in the team at the moment. Instead, the former Daegu forward has been coming off the bench and trying to influence games late into the second half. With Matic suspended for the win over Sangju and indeed the Super Match it might have been a good time for Evandro to come back into the team and remind the manager what he's capable of. But, on Saturday, Cho Youngwook was moved to the wing from central midfield and Anderson into the centre from the wing.

SW: Seoul have only kept two clean sheets in their eight league games since the return of K League following the World Cup. Is the Seoul defence to blame for Seoul’s deficiencies this season?  

PN: I think that an unsettled team hasn’t helped. Lee Eulyong has rotated players a bit too much, especially in the back four. Granted, some of the changes have been forced with injuries to the likes of Lee Woonghee and also due to Hwang Hyunsoo’s involvement in the Asian Games. Also, there have been injuries in midfield to the likes of Kim Seongjun and Hwang Kiwook but continuity has improved of late and Seoul do need to be more resolute at the back.

SW: It’s three seasons and since Suwon’s last league win against Seoul. Do you think that could change in this game? 

PN: It’s quite remarkable that Seoul, despite their problems in the last couple of years, have still been able to beat their most fiercest rival and have remained unbeaten in the league against the Bluewings for the last 12 meetings. However, that could quite easily come to and end on Wednesday. Suwon are due a win and will be determined not to lose any more ground in their tilt at ACL qualification. I’m sure the players and indeed Seo Jungwon will be looking for a reaction after the defeat to Ulsan on Sunday and will need no extra motivation heading into the Super Match.

SW: Score Prediction?

PN: Super Matches are like cup finals: form goes out the window and they are difficult to predict. Back-to-back wins will have given Seoul a huge boost before Wednesday’s game, and the fact that they are now within sight of the top six could also make Lee Eulyong’s men more determined to get a result. But, surely it must be time for Suwon to win.

Suwon Bluewings 2-1 FC Seoul

Paul Asks, Scott Answers

Paul: Suwon’s form since the World Cup has been a bit inconsistent, a win has usually been followed by a draw and then, on Sunday, the loss to Ulsan has left the Bluewings six points behind Gyeongnam in second and just a point above Ulsan who seem to be catching up. What’s the issue there?

Scott: I personally have no complaints about the player's form coming into this game. Convincing and dominating wins against Jeonnam, Incheon and Gangwon left Suwon in a comfortable position to challenge for second place in the league. And with upturns in form for the likes of Dejan and Yeom Ki-hun, Suwon looked to be in a resurgent mood. However, Seo Jung-won's questionable tactics against Ulsan appear to have left Suwon in a hole.

Seo unexpectedly rested both Yeom K-hun and Dejan in their last game against Ulsan, and despite having a number of regular first team players on the field, the team looked to be a shadow of itself. Suwon appeared to be content with a 0-0 draw from the kickoff and didn't trouble the Ulsan defence until late in the second half, when, incidentally, both Ki-hun and Dejan had entered the fray.

The squad as whole has performed well since the turn of July and should be commended. With better managerial decisions they would be sitting pretty in second place. However, they are feeling the heat from the teams pushing behind them. Seo Jung-won must realise that this season will be the one that defines him. If he does not at least attain ACL qualification, then he may well receive the marching orders that some believe he should have had a couple of years ago.

PN: Wagininho’s injury was a huge blow for the team, has his absence been felt do you think? What has Seo done to compensate for the loss?

SW: At first, his absence had seemed to galvanize the squad. But the disappointing draw to Sangju and defeat to Ulsan have left question marks over whether his absence is being felt or not. Losing a regular first team player will always hurt a team but, in truth, Suwon have enough options in attacking areas to be able to cope with the loss. However, Seo Jung-won is showing a real reluctance to give younger players a regular run in the team and, as such, he is merely relying on senior players to carry the load that Waguininho was carrying. With double game weeks piling up, that burden is seemingly reaching intolerable heights.

Seo has a wealth of young talent at his finger tips but he is hesitant to give any of them a real try in the first team. 18 year old Jeon Se-jin burst onto the K League radar in late April, scoring on his debut and adding a few more goals in the proceeding matches. However, he has not been trusted with a real extended run in the team and has never played more than two consecutive games. The same goes for energetic forward Yoo Ju-an. Yoo has only been trusted in the recent FA Cup games, against lower league opposition, despite having already proven that he has what it takes to compete at the top level.

Yoon Yong-ho, who Dejan pointed to as one of the most talented players in the Suwon squad when he sat down with Kleagueunited this year, has only played 141 minutes of football in 2018 and Kim Jun-hyung has not seen a single minute of action since he scored a brace in the FA Cup last month.

With old legs tiring, now may be the time for Seo to take off the training wheels and let his young starlets shine.

PN: Tactically, we all know that Seo Jungwon likes the 3-4-3 and so there’ll be few surprises in that respect but since the last Super Match the Bluewings have brought in Saric and Han Euikwon. Whilst Saric is new to the K League, the latter seems to have made the step up to K1 relatively easily. What do these two add to the side?

SW: Elvis Saric has been a top quality addition and is exactly the type of player that Suwon needed in this summer transfer window. For far too long Suwon have lacked quality in the middle of the park and fortunately for them, Saric is top quality at K League level. The current Bosnian and Herzegovina international has everything you need from a central midfielder; energy, passing ability, enthusiasm and an eye for a goal. His willingness to get forward, coupled with his ingenuity in tight areas has been one of the driving factors in the teams recent good form and it should come as no surprise that Dejan's current run of goals has coincided with the addition of Saric.

Han Eui-kwon, on the other had has flattered deceive. Despite beginning his Suwon career well and receiving a few plaudits for his efforts, the wide man has stuttered recently. He has blinding pace and superb dribbling skills but Han has really struggled to mark his stamp on games over the last couple of weeks. Seo's reluctance to give youth a chance means that Han will continue in the starting line-up for the foreseeable future but he needs to start producing more meaningful contributions or he may risk going the way of Lim Sang-hyub.

PN: The first Super Match of the season was a drab affair, the second was rather controversial with Dejan’s goal being chalked off, how do you see this Wednesday’s match playing out? Dejan was rested for the trip to Ulsan, was that purely with the Super Match in mind? 

SWSeo clearly had one eye on the Super Match when he left both Dejan and Yeom Ki-hun out of the starting lineup on Sunday evening, a move that could yet come back to bite him. The two veterans have been in scintillating form recently and have been the main source of attack for Suwon this summer. Dejan looks to have finally broken free from the shackles that were holding him down and he now has seven goals in his last six games.

But Suwon have a terrible recent record against Seoul and I can't see that changing in this game. Seo's tactics in these big games have too often been negative and if Suwon look to only limit Seoul then they probably shouldn't expect that form to change.

PN: Score Prediction?

SW: Suwon 1-1 Seoul

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