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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs FC Seoul

Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs FC Seoul
Gyeongnam FC are in a bit of a rut by their lofty standards at the moment and face off against an FC Seoul side who are going through quite an alarming slide of form at present.  Seoul haven't won a game since beating Suwon Bluewings in mid-August - a run of five games without a win. The Reds on the other hand haven't won in three but are still vying for an ACL berth. Meanwhile, FC Seoul are just trying to get into that top six bracket.  
(image via K League)
Game: Gyeongnam FC v FC Seoul
Venue: Changwon Football Center, Changwon
Kick off: Saturday September 22nd 14:00 (KST)

Last Time Out

Jeonnam Dragons 3-3 Gyeongnam FC

This was the early kick off fixture from this past weekend in K League 1 and it didn't disappoint.  Gyeongnam came out of the blocks superbly and put the Dragons on the back foot from the first whistle.  Kunimoto and Kim Hyo-gi, the diminutive duo up front, were pulling the Jeonnam defenders all over the pitch and it was the latter who deservedly put the away side one-nil to the good.  A typical near post run from the striker coming onto a right-wing cross from full back Lee Gwang-jin did the trick and a flicked finish gave the visitors the advantage after 26 minutes.  The lead was soon doubled just 14 minutes later by the unlikely source of 19 year old midfielder Kim Jong-jin who will have Negueba to thank for his goal.  The Brazilian winger teed the youngster up superbly with a delightful cross from the left wing.  Jong-jin didn't even have to break stride as he entered the penalty area and he stroked the ball first time into the bottom corner.

Whatever the Jeonnam gaffer said at half time really seemed to have an instant effect and the forward play of Wanderson and Macedo really sent panic throughout the Gyeongnam backline. With time running out for the home side they were awarded a dubious spot kick that was referred to VAR with just 24 minutes remaining.  Macedo stepped up, but his penalty was pushed around the post by Lee Beom-soo.  With 69 minutes on the clock the home side's pressure finally paid off and super sub Lee Sang-hoon, who had come on at half time, popped up with a strike to give the Yellows hope.

More joy was to follow for Kim In-wan's men just nine minutes later when Lee Sang-heom levelled matters and with a lovely finish across Lee Beom-soo into the bottom corner to send the home fans into raptures.  The Reds' defence were all at sea and just couldn't cope with the onslaught of attacks Jeonnam were putting them under.  Then, literally a minute later, Macedo popped up with what surely would be the winner with a finish at the back post after the defenders just stood and watched each other.  But there was still another twist to come in this remarkable game and it came from the right boot of Gyeongnam striker Marcão with the last kick of the game.  He picked the ball up around 40 yards from goal, and with three Jeonnam players chopping at his feet to just try and foul him or put in a challenge, the Brazilian unleashed a thunderbolt from 25 yards past the despairing dive of Lee Ho-seung in the Jeonnam net.

Highlights: here

FC Seoul 0-2 Daegu FC

The home side went into this game against an improving Daegu team hoping to put to an end their alarming run of form of late.  In truth Daegu fully deserved the three points and made the league table standings look like a bit of a mockery.  On this display it seemed like Daegu were the team pushing for a top six place and that FC Seoul are fighting against relegation.  With the win Daegu actually moved to just one point behind FC Seoul in the table.  The Sky Blues' first goal that came just 10 minutes before the break would have graced any league around the world.  Not only was the finish a classy one from attacking midfielder Kim Dae-won, but the build up play beforehand was a joy to behold also.  It involved two delightful back-heeled passes to totally fool Seoul's defenders, including  Edgar Silva for the assist with a brilliant bit of play.  Edgar was a real menace for the home side all afternoon and he got his just rewards 10 minutes after half time with a great header into the top corner to double the away side's advantage.  Daegu survived a few scares but got over the line to continue their great run of form.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

These two sides have actually met three times already this campaign: twice in the league and once in the Korean FA Cup.  The cup tie was won by FC Seoul 3-1 on penalty kicks after the game ended in a drab 0-0 draw.  In league competition the two teams played out a 0-0 at Changwon Football Center and a 3-2 away win for Gyeongnam with Marcão being the match winner again, bringing the points south with a winner on 86 minutes.  Over the past seven games, bar the 3-2 this season, this fixture has has usually ended in a draw.  Gyeongnam and Seoul have faced off against each other on 30 occasions with Seoul winning 13 of them, Gyeongnam seven times and 10 draws.

Team News

Saturday's hosts were buoyed by the returning Marcão last week after he missed the previous two games through suspension.  But, even though Marcão back and raring to go, Gyeongnam won't be able to call upon the services of left back Choi-Jae-soo and, perhaps more importantly attacking midfielder Kunimoto.  Jae-soo picked up his third yellow card of the season last time out and must serve a one game suspension whilst Kunimoto picked up his sixth caution of the campaign and must watch this one from the stands. Winger Baek-Ki-jeong made a substitute appearance against Jeonnam last weekend and looked very bright.  He may be called upon to replace Kunimoto on either flank.  Centre back mainstay Park Ji-soo was serving a one game suspension against Jeonnam and will surely slot right back in as the Reds' defence looked alarmingly shaky against the Dragons last time out. The rest of the squad are all with a full bill of health.

FC Seoul will have both Go Yo-han and Shin Jin-ho back from suspension.  The pair were forced to sit out the 2-0 home defeat to Daegu after picking up their sixth bookings of the campaign.  Long term absentee Kim Seong-jun will remain sidelined with the ACL injury picked up against Daegu in July but Ha Dae-sung is said to be nearing a return and played 45 minutes for the reserves on Tuesday.  Fellow veteran Park Chu-young is also close to a return to first team action.  The former Arsenal striker has featured for the reserves in recent weeks and could be in line for a place in the squad. Hwang Hyun-soo, back from Asian Games but sat out the Daegu loss, also played for the reserves win over Bucheon and  may be called upon to help plug Seoul's leaky defence.

The Adversary

FC Seoul’s season is going from bad to worse with each passing week.  Heading into this weekend’s clash with Gyeongnam, Seoul have four defeats out of their last five and have scored just once during that time.  Hopes of qualifying for the ACL are essentially over with the gap between Lee Eulyong’s team and third placed Ulsan Hyundai as wide as 15 points.  Frankly, merely finishing in the top half appears to be something that could be just that little bit beyond this current FC Seoul team.

FC Seoul could well suffer the indignity of finishing outside of the top six for the first time in over a decade and just the second time in the club’s history.  What, or rather who, could save them however is the rest of the teams who don’t seem to be able to find consistency.  The likes of Gangwon, Jeju, and Pohang  have also dropped points recently, leaving the gap between Seoul and sixth place at just a point.  A win come Saturday and all of a sudden Seoul’s target of a top six finish could seem a bit more realistic.  Right now, though, Seoul are only one point above Sangju and Daegu and could be in danger of being dragged into a relegation battle should Jeonnam and Incheon continue to pick up results as they have done of late.

In the wake of the 2-0 home defeat to Daegu last Sunday, Seoul Manager Lee Eul-yong hinted that was considering making wholesale changes to the side that will make the trip to Changwon. Anderson Lopes could make way for Yun Ju-tae after the forward’s return from Sangju Sangmu. Anderson hasn’t found the net since the Super Match on August 15th and may have make do with a place amongst the substitutes. Jung Won-jin, Kim Han-gil, Hwang Ki-wook, and Jung Hyeon-cheol have all found playing time limited of late whilst Kim Nam-choon and goalkeeper Yoo Sang-hoon have just returned from military service and may be called upon to steer Seoul’s season back on course.


Who To Watch

Marcão


The big man just can't be overlooked here.  With FC Seoul going through a mini slump in form and Marcão well rested and scoring his 22nd of the season last time out.  Marcão will be champing at the bit to get this game underway.  He can terrorise any defence on his day and he loves playing against Seoul, already scoring two past them this season.  Last year's K League Challenge (K League 2) MVP will have that golden boot award firmly on his mind and will be fit and raring to go this Saturday.  The Brazilian came off the bench on his return from suspension, but with Kunimoto out of this one, he will form a forward two with Kim Hyo-gi running off him.  This duo can hurt teams and with Negueba also providing ammunition from the wing, it could be a fun game to be at this weekend.

Prediction

These games over the past few seasons, as history has shown have been quite cagey affairs.  But with Gyeongnam's home form being very strong and with Marcão back and firing on all cylinders, expect a home win. Albeit a slender one.

Gyeongnam 2-1 FC Seoul.


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