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Preview: FC Seoul vs Gangwon FC

Preview: FC Seoul vs Gangwon FC K League 1
Choi Yongsoo's first home match back in charge of FC Seoul will be the visit of Gangwon FC this Saturday. Neither Seoul nor Gangwon will have expected themselves to be in the Relegation Round of the split but, with just six wins in fifteen meetings between them, both sides are embroiled in a relegation battle. More so for FCSeoul who are just five points above 12th, three points above the relegation playoff place. Whilst Gangwon do have a eight-point cushion above the relegation zone, five defeats in their last nine leaves Kim Byungsoo's side in somewhat of a precarious position. 
(image via K League)

Overview

via Soccerway

Last Time Out

Jeju United 1-0 FC Seoul

FC Seoul's win-less run was extended to 10 matches after a 1-0 away loss to Jeju United on Saturday. Tiago Marques capitalised on a mistake from Seoul centre-back and stand-in captain, Kim Namchoon, to find the bottom corner with just seven minutes of normal time remaining. It was a game in which Seoul will feel as though they did not deserve to lose, certainly with the way Choi Yongsoo's side held their shape. However, with a lack of verve and penetration, Seoul didn't do enough to warrant a victory, either.

Set up in a 3-5-2, Seoul looked to sit back and allow Jeju to advance into their defensive third before the likes of Kim Wonsik and Ha Daesung would confront the hosts as they attacked. Once in possession Seoul looked to get long balls in behind for Evandro and Lopes to run onto. With the route one approach bearing no fruit, Seoul began to get the ball down and play midway through the second period. Seoul's better chances came during this period after some patient build-up play.

An eight-pass move eventually allowed Ha Daesung to get a shot on target on 57 minutes which saw the ball shifted from the centre, to the left then right before Ha found space on the edge of the penalty area. A few minutes later Seoul went close again, this time after 21 passes. After which, Anderson was allowed to usher the ball onto his left foot before forcing a decent save from Jeju custodian, Lee Changkeun.

However, it was the hosts who were to go on and break the deadlock and indeed claim all three points. Centre back Kim Namchoon was caught flat-footed when receiving the ball from Kim Dongwoo. Alert, Tiago pounced to steal the ball before finding the bottom corner with a well-taken right-footed effort from just inside the area.

Highlights: here

Ulsan Hyundai 2-0 Gangwon FC

Gangwon fell to a fifth defeat in nine with a 2-0 loss to Ulsan Hyundai at the Munsu Stadium on Saturday. After a goal-less first half, former FC Seoul midfielder, Park Yongwoo, gave the Horangi a 64th minute lead, nodding home a Han Seungkyu corner at the edge of the six-yard box. Kim Dohoon's men doubled their advantage when Junior Negao coolly slotted the ball past Gangwon goalkeeper, Lee Beomyoung, with a left-footed strike fired into the bottom corner, Han Seungkyu with his second assist of the afternoon and fifth of the campaign.

In the 91st minute Junior thought he had given Ulsan a 3-0 lead but a VAR decision saw the goal chalked off after Lee Keunho was deemed to be in an offside position before sending the ball across goal to Junior in the penalty area.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Gangwon's last visit to Sangam proved to be rather fruitful after the Chuncheon-based side came from a goal down to win 2-1 in March this year. Park Chuyoung had given Seoul a half time lead, finding the back of the net with a glancing header just shy of the interval, but a second-half fight back ensured that the points went back to Gangwon province.

A Lee Woonghee own goal restored parity on 51 minutes before former FC Seoul striker, Jung Jogook, found the winner eight minutes later, Uroš Đerić with the assist.

Preview: FC Seoul vs Gangwon FC K League 1 Relegation Round Park Chu-young
Park Chuyoung's (C) only goal in 2018 was the opener against Gangwon in March (image via K League)

Since Seoul's round two defeat to Gangwon the two teams have played out two stalemates, a 1-1 draw on 12th May, when Kwak Taehwi's goal was cancelled out by Uroš Đerić. Then, on 1st September, the two sides played out a goalless bore draw in Chuncheon.

Seoul, then, have to look back to August last year for their most recent victory over Gangwon, a 3-1 win at Sangam in round 24. Dejan broke the deadlock just shy of the hour mark, Yun Illok with the assist, only for Diego to peg Seoul back just three minutes later. With the score level heading into the last five minutes it seemed as though Diego's leveller was going to be enough to earn the visitors a point. That was until Hwang Hyunsoo restored Seoul's lead on 85 minutes before Lee Sangho made it 3-1 in time added on, Dejan with the assist from close range.

From the 17 previous meetings Seoul have 11 victories, five at home and six away whilst Gangwon have just four. Three of Gangwon's wins over FC Seoul have come at Sangam, however.

Team News

FC Seoul will continue to be without club captain Go Yohan following the 31 year-old's red card against Jeonnam Dragons in round 32. Shin Kwanghoon deputised at right-wing back during the 1-0 away defeat to Jeju United and is expected to do so for Saturday's visit of Gangwon. Evandro, Lee Sangho, and Kim Hangil are all just one caution away from serving a one-match ban. Forward Cho Youngwook is also unavailable due to his inclusion in the Korea Republic's AFC U19s Championships squad.

FC Seoul starting XI vs Jeju R33
Saturday's round 34 clash with Gangwon will be Choi Yongsoo's first home game since being re-appointed as manager of FC Seoul during the international break. Before departing for China in mid-2016 Choi Yongsoo was setting his FC Seoul side up in a 3-5-2 formation which was yielding results. Up until Choi's departure Seoul lost just three times in the league and, with nine wins and three draws from 15 matches, racked up 30 points from 45 available. Such a stellar run of form was largely down to Choi's 'two-top" in Dejan and Adriano who were extremely potent, bagging 52 goals between them in just 25 games in all competitions - Adriano with 24 and Dejan with 10.

FC Seoul starting XI vs Suwon Bluewings 22nd June 2016
Away to Jeju, Choi went for two upfront, switching from the 4-3-3 that Lee Eulyong had been using during his spell as caretaker manager, perhaps to try and emulate the FC Seoul side of 2016. Evandro and Anderson were the front two before the former was hooked midway through the second half and replaced by Park Heeseong. Whilst Evandro worked hard, the former Daegu forward didn't pose much of a threat. To try and replicate the Dejan/Adriano partnership, Choi could bring Bojan Matić back in from the cold to play alongside Anderson Lopes. Matić's into-feet-style and willingness to drop deep, coupled with Anderson's tendency to play off the shoulder could be seen as the key to survival.

Gangwon ought to have a relatively full squad available to them ahead of the trip to Seoul. Kim Byungsoo doesn't have any suspensions of which to be concerned with but does have a number of his playing staff who are just one booking away from a one-match ban; namely Park Jongsoo who has eight bookings, Kim Ohkyu and Jung Seungyong who both have five, as well as Lee Taeho, Dylan McGowan, Lee Jaeik, Jung Seokhwa, Diego, and Jung Jogook who all have two cautions to their names.


The Adversary

There have been troubles on and off the pitch for Gangwon FC recently. On October 15th, Yonhap News Agency reported that Gangwon’s CEO had been suspended from football-related activities for two years for allegedly abusing his position at the club for personal gain. On the pitch, it looks like Gangwon have already bought a season ski-pass at High One Resort and headed off on their winter vacations. They’ve picked up one win and six points in their last nine games, and Kim Byungsoo will be counting his lucky stars that they’ve probably done enough to avoid relegation as it looks like they might not win again this season. The goals from top scorer Uroš Ðerić hid Gangwon’s flaws for much of this season, but he has only scored once in the last eight games and is struggling to even get in the team at the moment. Without his goals, Gangwon’s form has fallen apart.

Too be fair, their last four games have been against four of the top five teams, but against Ulsan in their last game, Gangwon looked like a side that had given up. Ulsan dominated throughout and could’ve won by far more. Gangwon’s defending for Ulsan’s second goal was just embarrassing. A lazy pass allowed Ulsan to counter attack but at no point did Gangwon put Ulsan under pressure and only one player even broke into anything more than a jog. Ulsan won two-nil and had a third goal ruled out through VAR. Gangwon have had decent results against Seoul recently, but they’ll have to up their form if they want to return to Chuncheon with anything more than a worse goal difference than they already have.

Gangown FC Starting XI vs Ulsan R33
by Steve Price 

Who To Watch

Gangwon FC - Jung Jogook

Preview: FC Seoul vs Gangwon FC K League 1 Jung Jo-gook goal
Jung Jogook (R) celebrates scoring against Seoul in March (image via K League)

Whilst the League's second-top scorer Uroš Đerić may be gunning for the golden boot, the Serbian hasn't started for Gangwon since the end of September. In his place, veteran striker Jung Jogook has been tasked with leading the line. In 2016 Jung bagged 20 league goals on the way to picking up the K League Classic (K League 1) MVP award whilst with Gwangju, earning him a move to an ambitious Gangwon outfit determined to make waves on the continent in the not-so-distant future. However, injuries have hampered his last two seasons meaning that the former FC Seoul striker has made just 24 starts in two seasons but, having already scored against Seoul once this season, will be one to keep an eye on.

Jung is no stranger to Sangam both as a visitor and in the red and black of FC Seoul having had three separate spells with FC Seoul during his career, winning two K League titles. 'The Patriot" scored goals in Gangwon wins against Seoul both this season and last season, and scored for Gwangju at Seoul World Cup Stadium in 2016 whilst with Gwangju. Jung may only have four goals to his name this term but has a track record of scoring against FC Seoul.

FC Seoul - Kim Wonsik

Preview: FC Seoul vs Gangwon FC K League 1 Relegation Round Kim Won-sik
FC Seoul's Kim Wonsik (L) (Image via K League)

Kim Wonsik is a player who Choi Yongsoo is vastly familiar with having signed the midfielder from Incheon United in 2015. In Choi's last stint at manager of FC Seoul, Kim featured heavily up until Choi eventually departed for China in June 2016. On Saturday Kim Wonsik was deployed as the holding midfielder in a 3-5-2, tasked with linking up the defence with the midfield. In the first half Seoul largely resorted to hitting longballs in behind for Evandro and Anderson to run onto.

However, when Seoul did start to get the ball down and pass it, Kim Wonsik was key in recycling possession and keeping the ball moving. Seoul's two best chances came in the second half, in the 57th and 61st minute respectively, and both stemmed from Kim Wonsik. No player in the Seoul team made more passes than Kim Wonsik last Saturday with 62 completed passes, a percentage of 78%. Seoul showed enough in that short spell that they can get the ball down and work themselves into areas to have a shot on goal. If selected, Kim Wonsik will be important for them to do so.

Prediction

Only nine points separate the bottom half of the table meaning that, with five matches left, no team is mathematically safe from relegation. Whilst Gangwon have lacked urgency and seem to be going through the motions, they do have match winners in the likes of Đerić, Diego as well as Jung Jogook, who has form for scoring against Seoul. The hosts, whilst lacking any sort of real match winners, are in a desperate situation whereby anything less than a win might see them drop into the relegation zone. If Choi Yongsoo can right the wrongs of Jeju away and get his players fired up then they might just have enough to get the result that they need.

FC Seoul 1-0 Gangwon FC


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