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K League Coach: Pohang Steelers Analysis

With three wins on the bounce, Pohang saw themselves sitting comfortably in the top half approach the split and will go on to finish in the Championship Round for the first time since 2015. The K League Coach makes his return by taking a look at Choi Soonho's side have achieved this with a closer look at the Steelers' trip to Gangwon in round 32. 

Game Information

Team: Pohang Steelers
Opposition: Gangwon FC
Date: October 6th 2018
Competition: K League 1 Round 32
Number of report: 1

Match Overview

A close game that saw both teams pick up a point from the 1-1 draw. Each team created a reasonable number of opportunities and would argue that they perhaps deserved more, but neither side can feel too aggrieved.

Line Up

On paper, Pohang lined up in their favoured 4-3-3.


Defensive Structure

When out of possession Pohang would retreat to the halfway line and set up a mid-level block. They would adjust their shape, with Lee Jin-hyun dropping back to form a traditional 4-4-2.


This block allowed Gangwon to advance up-field but pushed them into wide areas, with the centre of the field being well protected. Once the ball moved out wide in their own defensive half, Pohang would press across and confront the player in possession.


This approach was relatively successful as Pohang limited the number of chances Gangwon were able to create. However, there were issues once the press was broken.

Balls into the Box

In the first half, Gangwon were able to create three opportunities from wide areas. There were two decent headed attempts as well as the opening goal of the game. Once the wide press of Pohang was either beat, or Gangwon were able to switch play away from the press to the far open side quickly, Pohang struggled to deal with the ball into the box. Poor marking, indecision and, at times, panic saw Gangwon have the chance to take a bigger lead than 1-0 into half time.  

Offensive Shape

Part of the reason for playing a mid-level block was to encourage Gangwon to advance their back line forward and leave space in behind, giving Pohang the opportunity to counter. This was certainly Pohang's main attacking focus. When winning the ball, they would look to play forward quickly with minimal touches before trying to play a ball in behind Gangwon's back line. 

It was a well-executed counter-attack that was started by their goalkeeper, Kang Hyun-moo, that saw Pohang level the game a 1-1. After claiming a long direct free-kick into the box, Kang released Alemão Teixeira on the right-hand side who drove into space before slipping Kim Seung-dae. in to score.

On the few occasions that Pohang were able to establish possession in Gangwon's half they would push their full backs high and wide, and allow one of the central midfielders to push up and join the attacking line. However, they were unable to use these opportunities to create any more quality chances.


Transition Issue

Though Pohang looked most dangerous when counter-attacking, rather than patiently building play, they did at times face some issues when trying to transition to attack. They often rushed the first pass and would hit inaccurate balls that Gangwon were able to easily collect and maintain their pressure. If Pohang want to be able to challenge the teams above them they will have to execute these transitional passes better, not only to provide themselves with more attacking opportunities, but to also reduce the amount of time the opponent spends on the ball,

Conclusions

  • Pohang have a clear style of play and system in place 
  • They are well drilled defensively and have a solid platform to build from
  • Chapman is a good screen and links play well
  • They are a threat when the opportunity to break arises
  • To push further up the table they need more quality when in possession and with final balls when the opponents are organised defensively
  • At halftime number 77 Lee Jin-hyun dropped into midfield in the place of  number 9 Lee Hoo-kwon and Pohang's ability to maintain possession improved
  • Pohang deserve their position in the table, but this game shows that there not that much of a gap between teams finishing between 8th and 4th
Copyright Disclaimer: under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research.

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