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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

K League 1 Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Gyeongnam FC claimed a dramatic victory with a goal just before the final whistle, but the scars of the victory were deep. The Reds succeeded in turning the game around against Daegu, and with the stellar performance of a veteran player, they succeeded in breaking down the André's Sky Blues' iron-wall. However, injuries to the main players will cause some problems in the upcoming fixtures. This Tuesday, last season’s champions, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, will visit Changwon with their attacking might. Can Gyeongnam find another result?



Last Time Out

Gyeongnam FC 2-1 Daegu FC
Gyeongnam presented drama to the fans who came to this home game. Although there were concerns about the match against Daegu due to their poor performance in the league recently, Bae Kijong's goal just before full time earned them the much-needed result.

Sixteen minutes into the game, the Brazilian star of Daegu, Cesinha, showed his latest eye-catching performance through a free kick. His fantastic shot from a distance of 35 meters would not have been stopped by any goalkeeper. Along with the opening goal, Daegu strongly pressed Gyeongnam, but failed to score any additional goals, while the Reds put Kim Hyogi in just before the end of the first half due to Luc Castaignos' injury.

With the start of the second half, Gyeongnam FC tried to come back into the game by putting in Mutch, but in the 49th minute, they put veteran Bae Kijong as their last replacement card as Negueba came off with an injury. Daegu didn't push the line too far, but played the game through counterattacks. However, as the line was lowered, the home side's offense became increasingly fierce, and Bae Kijong levelled the match by scoring in the 75th minute. In the 83rd minute, Cesinha missed a pass from Jeon Hyoncheol and subsequently a chance to turn the tables. Then, three minutes later, Jo Hyunwoo's saved Daegu from the crisis. Choi Jaesoo's cross was met by Kwak Taehwi with a fantastic volley, but the "De Gea" of Daegu blocked it, followed by Kim Hyogi's shot from Kunimoto's pass again. However, in the 92nd minute, Kim Hyogi gave Bae Kijong a pass that toppled defenders, neatly wrapping it up, and giving home fans an unforgettable afternoon in Changwon.

Highlights: here

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-0 Pohang Steelers
Son Junhs and Han Kyowon both woefully missed efforts in the opening moments, yet Steelers' David Da Silva's shot on the counter was also in vain. Jeonbuk would come close later on when Lopes would strike the bar from range. However, the first half remained 0-0 despite the home team's overwhelming performance. For Jeonbuk, it was disappointing for them not to score, and, for Pohang, it was a fortunate first half where they were lucky not to concede.

Jeonbuk finally broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute, with Kim Shinwook finishing Lee Juyong's low cross with his right foot. Steeler’s goalkeeper Ryu Wonwoo blocked Son Junho's mid-range shot in the 77th minute, but Lim Sunyoung scored moments later to make it 2-0. In the remaining ten minutes, Jeonbuk constantly attacked in an attempt to score extra goals but the game eventually ended with a 2-0 home victory.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Gyeongnam had one win, one draw and two defeats against Jeonbuk over four matches last season. Also, the Reds never won against Jeonbuk last season at home. Looking back at previous games, notable is that Jeonbuk often won by scoring multiple goals in the event of a victory and, when Gyeongnam won, they only often managed to win by a single goal difference. There has been no loss in Changwon this season so far, yet this coming match is expected to be difficult for the home side.

Team News

Luc Castaignos and Negueba, two of the main players in the game against Daegu last time out, were sidelined with injuries. Luc Castaignos is considered a substitute for Marcão, but his injuries are also not giving him an opportunity to adapt to the league. Negueba seemed to pick up a hamstring injury, but it's not clear yet.

With the players' injured, the starting XI will be predictable, as manager Kim Jongboo's choices have been narrowed. Kim Seungjun is expected to replace Luc Castaignos, while the midfielders are expected to be Jordan Mutch, Kunimoto, Ko Kyungmin and Kim Jonbeom.

The Adversary

After back-to-back defeats prior to the international break, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors manager José Morais opted to roll things back a bit and take a note out of his predecessor’s book. Not only did Jeonbuk field no recently signed players, but they also reverted back to their preferred 4-1-4-1 formation from Choi Kanghee’s reign. Having walked away with a comfortable 2-0 victory against Pohang Steelers, it looked to be a deft move on the manager’s part.

Whether Jeonbuk will stick with a similar strategy for Tuesday remains to be seen. The manager has previously mentioned how important his whole squad will be during the crowded fixture schedule and April, with its eight fixtures across all competitions, is going to require meticulous management of players’ fitness. One change that is almost certain is the return of Kim Jinsu to left back after being previously suspended for the weekend’s encounter. Centre back Kim Minhyeok may also return to the fold after sitting out the last two along with AM Lim Sunyoung who scored his second of the season after making an appearance from the bench.

Tactically, the formation will likely be a variant on a five-man midfield, whether that be the aforementioned 4-1-4-1 or the manager’s preferred 4-2-3-1. Given the attacking talent possessed by Gyeongnam, Morais would be wise to consider the former once more in order to ensure the team is not exposed too much on the counter-attack.

Regardless of shape, Jeonbuk’s most potent threats still come from the wings, with Ricardo Lopes and Han Kyowon continuing to be heavily involved in the team’s attacking play. While the likes of Moon Seonmin and Tiago sit in wait, it seems that the team would be best sticking with it’s two strongest performers whilst it rediscovers it’s footing in the league.

- Matthew Binns (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors columnist)

Who To Watch

Jordon Mutch
With Negueba out injured, Gyeongnam now have few options left. The Red's offense began to pick up after Jordan Mutch came in with the start of the second half in the last match against Daegu FC. While Kunimoto's flickering moves were also seen, it would perhaps be necessary to pay more attention to the Englishman, who can also create chances.

This pass master, who was the starting point of the attack, tried several creative passes ahead to create scoring chances, which eventually led to Gyeongnam FC taking the lead in the game. The Englishman's defensive attribute have perhaps not been as strong as he would like but, in aggressive terms, he is sharper than anyone else in Gyeongnam. In order to maximise Jordon Mutch’s offensive side, the Reds may be able to score if they field him alongside a teammate with a strong defensive inclination.

Prediction

Unfortunately, it is expected to be a very tough match for Gyeongnam FC. Last season's K League 1 champions were dealt an unexpected blow to Gangwon FC in the 3rd round, but they are a team that has a fierce offense and excellent defense. The home side, on the other hand, couldn't find a replacement for Marcão, and even the key players were injured in the last match, which is expected to make it difficult to score against Jeonbuk. There's little chance, but in order to win, Jordon Mutch and Kunimoto are expected to bully Jeonbuk's midfield and create opportunities for Kim Seungjun or Kim Hyogi.

Predicted Score: Gyeongnam FC 0-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

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