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Preview: FC Seoul vs Pohang Steelers

Preview: FC Seoul vs Pohang Steelers K League 1 2019
After a season to forget, FC Seoul will look to put 2018 behind them by starting the new campaign in a positive manner. This Sunday, Pohang Steelers are the visitors to Sangam, a side which narrowly missed out on Asian Champions League football after finishing fourth last term. Choi Soonho and his men picked up eight wins away from home last term, including one against Seoul the last time these two sides met. Seoul, on the other hand, won just six home games last season and so will be determined to hit the ground running in 2019.


Overview

Graphic via Soccerway

Last Time Out

FC Seoul 1-1 Busan IPark

FC Seoul ended the 2018 campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to Busan IPark in the Promotion/Relegation Playoff Final second leg. After a 3-1 win at the Gudeok, Seoul just needed to see the tie out when the south coast side made the long trip to the capital a few days later. However, in front of a slightly nervy home crowd, it was the visitors took the lead to narrow the deficit to just one goal on aggregate. Kim Jingyu turned in Romulo's low cross at the near post with 31 minutes on the clock after a one-two from a short corner.

However, in time added on, Seoul hit Busan on the counter attack to level the score on the night and restore their two-goal cushion. Go Yohan played in Park Chuyoung who, 40-yards out, beat the on-rushing goalkeeper Koo Sangmin to the ball before guiding it home, much to the relief of the Sangam faithful.

Highlights: here

Pohang Steelers 1-3 Ulsan Hyundai

Pohang saw the season out with a 3-1 East Sea Derby defeat to bitter rivals Ulsan Hyundai at the Steelyard. Lee Keunho put Ulsan in front on the half hour mark, finding the back of the net after converting Jeong Dongho's low cross from the left. However, Lee Jinhyun pounced on a loose ball restore parity just 10 minutes later. Midway through the second period Lee Changyong had Ulsan back in front with a back post header from a corner. Then, on 76 minutes, Junior was the quickest to react when Steelers custodian Kang Hyunmu could only parry Lee Youngjae's long range effort. The Brazilian coolly slotted home the rebound to seal the victory for the Horangi.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

The last meeting between these two sides ended in a 1-0 Pohang win when a Yang Hanbin own goal condemned Seoul to their second straight home reverse back in August last year. A 3-0 win at the Steelyard in June, with goals from Go Yohan, Kim Wonkyun, and Evandro, was preceded by a 2-1 Seoul win at Sangam in April. A brace from Go Yohan turned the game on its head after Kim Seungdae had given the Steelers the lead early on that evening.

FC Seoul and Pohang Steelers last met on the opening day in 2013 when Seoul, as then-K League Champions, hosted Hwang Sunhong's FA Cup-winning Pohang Steelers. The match ended in a 2-2 draw, with Dejan giving the hosts the advantage with 30 minutes on the clock before Shin Jinho levelled just three minutes later. Escudero put Seoul back in front three minutes after half time before Lee Myeongju, who would go on to have a short spell with the capital club under Hwang Sunhong in 2017, salvaged a draw for the Steelers with an 84th minute equaliser.

Overall, from 54 previous meetings, Seoul have 24 wins whilst Pohang have 18. In the capital, these two sides have gone toe-to-toe on 24 occasions with Seoul having the clear advantage having racked up 16 wins to Pohang's six

Team News

FC Seoul gaffer Choi Yongsoo is expected to hand debuts to Serbian striker Aleksandar Pešić as well as Uzbek international midfielder Ikromjon Alibaev. Osmar is also expected to start having made his return to the club following a one-year loan with J.League 1 side Cerezo Osaka.

For every single one of the eight games which Choi Yongsoo was in charge last season, Seoul were set up in a 3-5-2 formation. In all but one of those eight matches, Yun Jutae started up front and so may be given the nod to partner Pešić.

For Pohang, Shim Sangmin could make his competitive Steelers debut against his former club having made the switch to Steelers during the winter. Elsewhere, there could be debuts for forward David Da Silva, midfielder Yoo Junsu, defenders Vladan Adžić, Jeon Minkwang and Kim Yonghwan, as well as a second debut for Brazilian utility man Wanderson.

The Adversary

It's been another busy transfer window for Pohang Steelers with no fewer than nine senior players arriving through the door. However, whilst the additions of Wanderson and Vladan and the K League experience which the pair possess already will be seen as positive acquisitions, the departure of Connor Chapman is a huge blow. The Australian centre back-turned-defensive midfielder left the club by mutual consent during the winter despite being such an integral part of Choi Soonho's team last term. Chapman was third overall for the most interceptions made at Pohang and second for the most forward passes made as well as tackles made. On the rare occasion that Chapman was absent last season, Lee Hookwon often stepped in but has gone to Busan on loan. Yun Junsu has joined, making his K League return having spent last season with Buriram United in Thailand but without that defensive screen, Pohang's 4-3-3 may not be quite as effective.


However, on the counter attack with the likes of Kim Seungdae and Lee Seokhyun arriving from midfield, FC Seoul will have to be careful so not to commit too many men forward. Seoul may find some look from set pieces as Pohang showed some vulnerability in that regard last term, as well as by playing aerial balls into the box.

Who To Watch

FC Seoul -  Aleksandar Pešić


Seoul's chronic lack of fire power ultimately lead to their participation in the K League Promotion/Relegation Playoffs. Seoul's goals scored tally was the worst in the league with 40, automatically relegated Jeonnam Dragons managed 43 and Sangju Sangmu, who leapfrogged Seoul on the final day, managed 41. Looking to address this, FC Seoul terminated the contracts of both Bojan Matić and Evandro Paulista - the pair managed just four goals between them in 39 appearances.

The man who Choi Yongsoo will be hoping can fire Seoul back up the table is Serbian striker Aleksandar Pešić who arrives from Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia. Pešić's time with Al-Ittihad was hampered by injury but made the move to the Gulf League on the back of a prolific season with Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade, finding the net 25 times in 35 appearances on the way to lifting the Super Liga title in 2017/2018.

Pohang Steelers - David Da Silva


Brazilian striker David Da Silva arrives at the Steelyard tasked with firing Choi Soonho's team into the AFC Champions League. The 29 year-old bagged 20 goals in 23 starts last season in the Indonesian Premier League with Persebaya Surabaya. Only one of the 20 goals was from the penalty spot and eight were the opening goal of the game.

Last term Kim Seungdae finished as the Steelers' top goalscorer with eight, largely from midfield in Coach Choi's preferred 4-3-3 formation. However, with more creativity supporting Da Silva such as Wanderson and former FC Seoul man Lee Seokhyun, Pohang fans will be hoping that that their new striker will be able to find the net on a regular basis.

Prediction

After such a sluggish start to last season, it will be imperative that Seoul get that first win under the belts. With Osmar returning, Alibaev in midfield and Pešić up front, Seoul have the tools to start the season brightly. Pohang will be a tough test for Choi Yongsoo's team but the mood around the club is infinitely better than it was this time 12 months ago and so a opening day home win might just be on the cards.

FC Seoul 2-1 Pohang Steelers


FC Seoul Season Preview: here

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