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Preview: Jeju United vs FC Seoul

Preview: Jeju United vs FC Seoul K League 1
Jeju United head into Saturday afternoon's K League 1 clash with FC Seoul knowing that only a win will secure them a spot in the top six, unless Gangwon draw or lose away to Ulsan.  FC Seoul already have been guaranteed to finish in the relegation bracket, but will definitely do their utmost to spoil the islanders' chances of remaining where they sit in the table with the split just around the corner.  KLU's Branko Belan and Paul Neat look ahead to what is certain to be a very tense encounter.

Match: Jeju United vs FC Seoul
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday October 20th, 2018; 14:00 KST

Last Time Out

Gyeongnam FC 0-1 Jeju United

Jeju came away with what can be considered an improbable victory away to second-placed Gyeongnam.  The hosts controlled most of the match and it easily could have gone to them if not for the goalkeeping exploits of Lee Chang-keun, who made the critical stops when necessary to preserve yet another clean sheet.

The first noticeable thing about how Jeju came out was the formation, as they lined up in a 4-5-1, with only Tiago up top and Magno Cruz on the left wing, while Aleks Jovanović got a rare start in center of defence.  

Even though the home side controlled the tempo for much of the first half, the best chance fell to Jeju, when Lee Chan-dong found space just outside the area to fire on goal with a good effort, but Lee Bum-soo was equal to the task and parried the ball out of danger.

The first fifteen minutes of the second half did not produce much from either side, until Lee Kwang-jin tested the Jeju 'keeper two minutes before the hour mark, but Lee was able to punch clear for a corner.  Gyeongnam kept pushing forward in search of a goal to put them in the lead, and Negueba, who had been a presence all match, came close in the 72nd minute, but Lee was alert again and refused to concede.

It was Jeju who would snatch the opportunity to go in front late when Lee Dong-soo finally managed to solve the Gyeongnam custodian between the sticks, beating him with a low shot in the third minute of injury time for United's first win of the season over the Reds.

Highlights: here 

Previous Meetings

The two sides have met three times this season - twice in the league and once in the cup.  They opened the season on the island with a scoreless draw in a match where neither was able to stake a foothold in the match.  

When they met again in the summer, Seoul were convincing 3-0 winners, as the wheels fell off after Kweon Han-jin scored an own goal in the 35th minute.  Bojan Matic added a second in the 52nd minute, and Sin Jin-ho counted a third in injury time.

The meeting between the two in the Round of 16 of the FA Cup was also a back and forth affair, as Lee Dong-soo scored early, but Anderson Lopes levelled the match ten minutes into the second half.  Tiago would provide some late match heroics, netting the winner in injury time.

Team News

Jeju's task ahead just got a bit more difficult, having been eliminated from the FA Cup on penalties Wednesday night.  The question is how well the team will be able to rebound following the dramatic defeat.

Jin Seong-wook was replaced by Magno early in the second half of the match, and may be questionable for the lineup sheet come Saturday.  The same might be said for Kim Ho-nam, who seemed to pull up late on in extra time, but the hope is that he will be match fit and ready to go.  Lee Dong-soo returns from suspension, and is a likely candidate for the starting eleven.  

FC Seoul will be without club captain, Go Yohan, following the utility man’s straight red card picked up during the away defeat to Jeonnam Dragons in round 31.  Right-back Shin Kwanghoon is available again, however, after sitting out the Jeonnam defeat.  The former Pohang defender had picked up his third yellow of the season against Sangju the week prior.  Central defender Hwang Hyunsoo could return to the fold after a short injury layoff, the Asian Games gold medalist has featured for the reserves in recent weeks.

The Adversary

FC Seoul Manager Choi Yongsoo K League 1

FC Seoul are just five points above Incheon United who sit bottom of the K League 1 table, and just three points above Jeonnam Dragons who occupy the relegation playoff place. Make no mistake, FC Seoul are in a relegation battle. A defeat to Jeju United and the pressure will really be on heading into the post-split season.

Saturday’s match at Seogwipo has huge implications for both teams, not just the hosts who have their sights set on a top half finish.  Seoul, of course, were mathematically condemned to a bottom half finish after the 2-1 reverse to Jeonnam in round 32 and so, instead of looking up, the beleaguered capital club will be nervously looking over their shoulders.  FC Seoul’s run of form has been dire, there is no other way to describe it.

Seoul's last victory was on 15th August, the 2-1 away win over Suwon Bluewings in what has transpired to be the final Super Match of the season.  Nine games down the line and FC Seoul have lost six and drawn three.  Seoul went 10 games without a win in 2007 but only lost twice in that time meaning that winless streak the club currently finds themselves in the midst of is the worst in their history.

The trip to Jeju, then, will be seen as a must win as Choi Yong-soo’s takes charge for the first since rejoining last week.  After the Jeonnam loss, the FC Seoul board took action by bringing back Choi Yong-soo as manager, despite appointing Lee Eul-yong as caretaker manager until the end of the season back in May.  Choi may not be the man who brought Seoul’s most recent K League triumph to Sangam in 2016 but he certainly laid the foundations with the squad that he built.  Whilst a lot of Seoul’s once-potent attacking options have since departed, there are still a good number of individuals who have worked under Choi that remain with the club.  Yoo Sang-hoon, Lee Woong-hee, Kim Nam-choon, Park Chu-young, Go Yo-han, Kim Won-sik, Ha Dae-sung, Yun Ju-tae and Park Hee-seong have all played under Choi Yong-soo and so will be familiar with his methods and footballing philosophy, something that can only be seen as a positive as Seoul enter a relegation battle for the first time in their history.

But, whilst the manager they call 'doksuri' (the Eagle), Choi has brought success to Seoul before, the former striker, who ended his playing career with FC Seoul in 2006, hasn’t had a great deal of experience in fighting against relegation and so will be hoping that his arrival can have that ‘new manager bounce effect’.  Finding a a goalscorer amongst the current squad will perhaps be Choi’s first priority.  Seoul are the league’s lowest scoring team with just 35 scored in 32 matches - even Incheon, Jeonnam and Sangju have more with 44, 38, and 37 respectively.

(by Paul Neat)

Prediction

Jeju have no choice but to go for the win on Saturday, as it is the best guarantor of where they will finish the season.  While Seoul has always been a difficult opponent for them, they showed again this season that they are capable of winning against the club from the nation's capital.

Seoul cannot at all be content with how their season has played out, and will surely look to put on a good performance as they prepare to face the likes of Daegu, Sangju, Jeonnam, and Incheon in the lower half to bring their campaign to its conclusion.  There is, of course, still a chance that even Jeju could be joining them, so there should certainly be motivation to go out and get a result.

However, Jeju should be the side playing with a lot more urgency in this one, so it is expected that they would want to finish strong at home before the stretch run.

Prediction: Jeju United 2-1 FC Seoul

K League 1 R33 Preview here

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