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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Seoul E-Land

Separated by a single point in the K League 2 table, Jeonnam Dragons and Seoul E-Land square off for the first time in history with both teams looking to get their campaign into second gear after rough starts. Ryan Walters and Michael Redmond preview the Monday night encounter. 

Last Time Out

In just their second away match of 2019, the Dragons ground out a 1-1 draw with a suddenly very different looking Suwon FC that's climbing the K2 table. Jeonnam struck first with captain Choi Hyojin finding the back of the net in the 47th minute. In a largely broken play, Choi was able to find some space at the top of the box and put enough power behind his right footed shot to see it into the bottom corner in spite of being deflected by a defender along the way.

The lead was short live, however, as North Korean striker An Byongjun scored his second of the season on a truly spectacular free kick from just outside of the box. Suwon would later have several scrambles inside the Jeonnam box, but couldn't find the final pass to put the game to bed.

Highlights available on KLeague.com

Seoul E-Lands last match in K2 saw them pick up their first win of the season in emphatic fashion, putting four past FC Anyang. Seo Gyeongju, Kim Mingyoon, and Douglas Coutinho all got on the scoresheet after going down 1-0 early with Anyang's Kim Sangwon putting the visitors ahead in the 24th minute. The outburst from E-Land is their highest output since beating Bucheon 1995 by the same scoreline nearly two full years ago. Perhaps most exciting for the Leopards is the continued growth of newcomer Douglas Coutinho, who bagged a brace last time out and may be the solution to E-Land's scoring woes of years past.

Highlights available on KLeague.com.

Looking Lost

Winless in three straight, the notion of bouncing straight back to K1 is starting to take a serious hit for Jeonnam. Back to back draws and the two points that comes from them are certainly better than nothing, but the lack of cohesion or efficiency behind those points is concerning. Six matches into the season and Jeonnam are lagging behind in nearly every vital metric moving the ball forward. Most notably, just 76% of their passes are finding their mark, and their shots on target remain in single digits with just nine of their 66 shots finding the mark. Simply put, it's nowhere near good enough from the men up front, namely Bruno Nunes who is not getting into dangerous enough positions and often settles for shots from well outside his range or behind far too many defenders. Add in the fact that he loses arial duels at a near 75% rate and his dreadful 0.12 expected goals makes a lot of sense. Granted, it's still somewhat early in the season, and he's adjusting to his first stint in Korea, but it may be high time for manager Fabiano Soares to let youngsters like Kim Kyungmin get more significant minutes up front.

The Adversary

Seoul E-Land have found some form in recent weeks. They have won their previous two games, and undefeated in the last three.  Seoul are starting to gel well together, and this high tempo football which was promised at the start of the season is starting to come into fruition. Seoul have three Brazilian trio of Wesley Alex, Duarte and Coutinho up front to cause problems, and their presence on the pitch has given the leopards hope this year.

In the last league game against Fc Anyang, Seoul did well in short passes from the back of the defense, showing calm and composure at the back. Then when the time was right, a long ball would be lifted forward to one of the attacking players. This is a certain change from last year, as they look a lot more confident on the ball in recent weeks.

Seoul have some momentum going into this game, and may also set up in the same 4-2-3-1 formation as they did in the previous game. Seoul look to constantly push the ball up the field and are not afraid to play high. Seoul also rested most of their first team players in their 4th round clash in the FA cup against Honam University, so expect to see a solid starting line up, for one of their biggest tests this year.

- Michael Redmond

Who To Watch


On the roster as a defender, 24-year-old Choi Jaehyun has made the transition to winger on a nearly full time basis. With just five attackers on the opening day roster and Choi's nose for goal, the transition up top makes sense given the team's lack of scoring options. He currently leads the team in scoring with two and has shown flashes of being a more regular threat when deployed up top. Although the Dragons have switched to a 3-5-2 occasionally this season, it's clear Soares prefers a 4-3-3 that suits Choi rather well given his pace and ability to maintain possession on the wing.

Perhaps equally important to his own performance up top, Choi fitting into the winger role means vice captain Kim Youngwook can move back to his preferred (and far better suited) position of central midfielder alongside Han Chanhee.


With only just joining the leopards, the danger man for the squad is Douglas Coutinho. A quick, fast paced Brazilian, he is not afraid to take chances and stick himself in the box to get the ball from a cross or deflected pass. Coutinho already has four goals to his name this year, and will certainly look to try and boost that in the next coming games. He was the MVP in the last round, due to his brace against FC Anyang, and has a real finesse when finishing his strikes. Most of his goals have been from slotting the ball past the keeper, rather than using power in his strike.

If Jeonnam still have defensive issues going into Monday nights game, they may have their hands full with Seoul’s newest star.

Prediction

The Dragons have faired better away from home where they’ve set up more defensively and simply try to contain the match. After collecting two points in two games, look for them to do the same in an effort to slow Seoul’s recent progress.

Jeonnam 1-1 Seoul E-Land

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