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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Daegu FC

Jeonnam Dragons host Daegu FC this Saturday afternoon in their final home match of 2018 and possibly their final K League 1 game in Gwangyang for a few seasons. With just two matches of the season remaining and four points separating bottom side Jeonnam and second-from-bottom Incheon United, defeat for the Dragons against Daegu this weekend will condemn them to relegation from South Korea's top flight for the first time in their history. Can the Dragons fire themselves up for potentially their biggest match of the season and take all three points? Or will seventh-placed Daegu FC frustrate the home team once more and help send them down to K League 2? Aodan Halligan and Muyeol Jung preview this weekend's big match.

Game: Jeonnam Dragons v Daegu FC
Venue: Gwangyang Football Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday 4pm

Last Time Out

Jeonnam Dragons lost a huge relegation six-pointer against FC Seoul last time out to leave their K League 1 survival hopes hanging by a thread. And the Dragons got off to the worst possible start in South Korea's capital city - falling behind in the ninth minute when Yun Jun-tae side-footed Seoul in front from around 10 yards out. But the home side's failure to deal with a corner just six minutes later let the Dragons back into the game. Choi Jae-hyun was first to react to a poor defensive clearance and he blasted the ball into the net from around 10 yards out. In the 36th minute, though, Yun Jun-tae put FC Seoul back in front from the penalty spot after the home side were awarded their first of two controversial VAR penalties.  Jeonnam restored parity when another set-piece caused pandemonium in FC Seoul's penalty box. Lee Ji-nam met the left-wing free kick six minutes into the second half and slotted home from around two yards out. However, the home team were awarded another contentious penalty deep into injury time and Park Chu-yong sent Jeonnam keeper Lee Ho-seung the wrong way to give Seoul all three points. And to make matters even worse for the visitors, Choi Jae-hyun received a red car in the 97th minute and will miss Saturday's game against Daegu.

Full Time: FC Seoul 3 Jeonnam Dragons 2

Highlights: here

There were no such fireworks at Daegu World Cup Stadium as hosts Daegu FC were held to a dour 0-0 draw by visitors Sangju Sangmu FC.  Despite, dominating proceedings,  Daegu didn't really create any clear cut chances and perhaps the closest they came to breaking the deadlock was through a Cesinah free kick in the 80th minute from around 35 yards out. The Brazilian midfielder thumped the ball with the inside of his right foot, but unfortunately - for him and his team - it didn't dip fast enough and grazed the top-left upright. But with their K League 1 safety already assured and a cup final against Ulsan to look forward to early next month, the home side will hardly lose any sleep over such a result.

Full Time: Daegu FC 0 Sangju Sangmu 0

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

This Saturday's match between Jeonnam Dragons and Daegu FC will be the fifth meeting between the sides this year. And with Jeonnam winless against Daegu this season, it's safe to say the visitors have enjoyed this fixture more in 2018.

In the most recent fixture on October 31st, Daegu denied the Dragons a place in the cup final courtesy of their 2-1 semi-final victory in Gwangyang.  Edgar Silva gave the visitors the lead in the 11th minute and Kim Dae-won put them 2-0 up just two minutes later. The Dragons reduced the deficit through Lee Sang-heon in the 60th minute, but Daegu held on to reach their first ever cup final.

However, it's not all doom and gloom for Jeonnam as they boast the better overall head-to-head record, having won 14 of the 39 games between the teams. Daegu have only emerged victorious on 13 occasions and the other 12 matches ended in draws.



Team News

Jeonnam Dragons will have to do without the services of a couple of influential midfielders on Saturday. Choi Jae-hyun saw red against FC Seoul, while Han Chan-hee picked up his sixth yellow card of the season that day so both will be absent this weekend. And the Dragons will most likely also face Daegu without long-term injury absentee Ha Tae-goon. However, Jeonnam will be delighted to welcome back Vedran Jugovic. The Croatian missed the match against Seoul due to suspension and should return to the starting eleven and bring back some steel to midfield. Dragons' supporters will also hope that head coach Kim In-wan finds some room in his side for players like Lee Seul-chan and Lee sang-heon - who have found it hard to get game time over the past few weeks.

The Adversary

Daegu FC have already secured a place in K League 1 for next year and have two more away games left in the league; against Jeonnam and Gangwon. This weekend, Daegu come down to Gwangyang to take on the Dragons with less than two weeks remaining till the Korean FA Cup Final against Ulsan.

In the previous game, Daegu Manager Andre put out what looked like an odd selection against Sangju due to a combination of injuries and tactics. Two central defenders were also missing, Park Byung-hyun dropped out of the squad, while Captain Han Hee-hoon only made the bench due to a minor knee injury.

After the long international break, there is a great amount of uncertainty with the line-up and Daegu have a number of players suspended. Left winger Kang Yoon-ku, youngster Jung Seung-won, and young defender Kim Woo-suk are not available for selection due to suspension. Up front, Brazilian playmaker Cesinha and towering forward Edgar are likely to start to maintain their match fitness. Meanwhile, Korean International Goalkeeper Jo Hyun-woo (pictured above) arrived back in Korea on Wednesday afternoon after his international duties in Australia where he completed the full 90 minutes against Uzbekistan. He could be rested, but he is likely to play with a bit of fatigue.

-by Muyeol Jung


Prediction

This is really tough to call as results elsewhere could have the biggest influence on this match. No doubt, all eyes will be on Seoul World Cup Stadium before kickoff as FC Seoul take on Incheon United at 2 pm. A win or draw for Seoul would give Jeonnam a huge boost as it would mean that they could climb off the basement by winning their last two games. However, if Incheon manage to defeat Seoul, then Jeonnam will enter the field knowing that Incheon cannot be caught and the home side will have to claim all three points to reel in third-from-bottom Sangju Sangmu FC (who are currently five points ahead).

Winless in five games, it feels like the wheels have really come off for Jeonnam and I've a terrible feeling that Incheon are going to beat Seoul and Daegu will put the final nail in the Dragons' coffin here.

Jeonnam Dragons 2 Daegu FC 2

K League 1 R37 Preview: here

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