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Preview: Daegu FC vs Suwon Bluewings

After a disappointing Wednesday night in Guangzhou where Daegu's hopes of reaching the last 16 of the ACL evaporated, fourth-placed Daegu FC will invite the Suwon Bluewings to their DGB Daegu Bank Park fortress. Daegu will be looking to extend their home unbeaten run to seven whilst Suwon will hope to bounce back after last week's defeat. K League United's Daegu FC Correspondent Muyeol Jung previews this clash with help from Suwon Bluewings counterpart Scott Whitelock.

Last Time Out

Guangzhou Evergrande 1-0 Daegu FC
ACL debutants, Daegu FC, made a long journey to Guangzhou with the hope of reaching the knock out stages of the ACL, but their hopes went down the drain after they lost to the Chinese side through an unlucky second half own goal from Jeong Taewook.

As expected, the hosts, who needed three points to advance in the tournament took the control of the game, whilst the visitors sat deep. Despite the host’s dominance Daegu had the most meaningful chances in the first half. The second half started in a similar fashion, but neither side were able to break the deadlock.

The only goal came from the Korean side, but unfortunately in their own goal. Daegu defender Jeong Taewook headed the ball into his own net  from a Guangzhou corner kick. Afterwards, Daegu tried their best to level the game, but Jeong’s own goal remained as the winning goal.

Highlights: here

Suwon Bluewings 1-3 Ulsan Hyundai
Suwon Bluewings hosted 1st placed Ulsan Hyundai at Big Bird. Before 30 minutes into the first half the visitors took the lead after Ulsan rookie Lee Dongkyung calmly feinted to avoid two defenders and put the ball into the bottom corner. However, the game was at a stalemate at half-time after Suwon’s Captain Yeom Kihun converted from the spot. The referee had previously awarded a penalty for a foul on Koo Jaryong after consulting VAR.

In the second half, the Horangi regained their lead thanks to Wagningho’s own goal when the winger was attempting to clear the ball away. Afterwards, both teams tried to add more, but their efforts were either off target, or saved by the goalkeeper. But just two minutes before time, Ulsan killed the game off when young defender Kim Sooan headed in at a corner kick.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Daegu FC have always been minnows when they have played against the Suwon Bluewings and they have only three wins and nine draws from 34 meetings. Particularly, Daegu’s 2nd to last win over the Bluewings dates back to October 2009 and it took them almost nine years to pull off another win over Suwon in September 2018.

However, one thing to note is that all three wins over Suwon were achieved on Daegu’s turf. Furthermore, Daegu’s recent performances against Suwon have been fine. The first meeting of this season was held in Suwon on the 14th of April when an exhausted Daegu team picked up a point on the road, which could have possibly been all three points for Daegu.

Team News

The first team, led by Daegu Manager Andre, arrived back in Korea early Thursday morning from Guangzhou with nothing in their hands. The teams’ morale must be low at this time because they didn’t take their opportunities. Even though Daegu’s journey in continental competition is widely regarded as a brave and well fought campaign in their first appearance in the ACL, the players will still feel some form of disappointment. In addition, their back to back exits from two different competitions within only one week must be a huge morale killer and a shock to the system. As a result, Daegu Manager Andre urgently needs to come up with ideas of how to keep his boys motivated from now on for the rest of the season.

On this weekend, against Suwon Bluewings, Daegu have no players suspended, but some squad rotation is expected following some significant signs of fatigue in the midweek game. However, on the other side, due to the gaffer’s stubbornness in his selection the degree of change might not be expected to be huge, and his starting XI are likely to be similar to the team who previously started at home to Incheon.

Edgar’s replacement Jung Chiin and Tsubasa’s understudy Jung Seonho will likely start, while at the back, Park Byunghyun and Han Heehoon are also expected to play instead of Jeong Taewook and Kim Wooseok. Particularly, former Jeju defender, Jeong Taewook, sustained a broken nose, may be out of squad. However, despite the fatigue issues, Andre’s two favourites Kim Daewon and Jung Seungwon are likely to start again as usual, unless they have any injury.

The Adversary

It’s now more than seven months since the Suwon Bluewings strung together back-to-back league wins and that sequence continued with the pitiful defeat to Ulsan Hyundai. The home team were second best throughout and had no answer to Ulsan’s movement, high quality passing and stern defence. In truth, Suwon’s goal was a slice of luck, a penalty given from a soft VAR call, and Ulsan, with better finishing, could have inflicted a bigger margin of victory than even Jeonbuk did during the start of the season. Without the pace of Jeon Se-jin and the ingenuity of Adam Taggart Suwon looked a shadow of the team that dispatched of Jeju United with ease and Lee Lim-saeng will be wishing away May in the hope of getting two of his stars back into the squad. 

He will also be hoping that centre-back Jo Sung-jin can shake off the knock that he picked up several weeks ago whilst playing against Pohang. Jo has has been sensational when he has been available for selection this year and he was instrumental in Suwon’s run of four consecutive clean sheets earlier in the season. When Jo has been fit and playing in the centre of defence Suwon have only conceded one goal in five games. However, in the nine games that he has been missing Suwon have shipped a massive fifteen goals. Lee needs to figure out a way to get him back fit or Suwon’s defensive woes may well continue.

If facing Ulsan wasn’t difficult enough, the Bluewings now face the task of becoming the first away team to win a league game at the new DGB arena. Daegu have made their new stadium a fortress and with the likes of Ulsan Hyundai, Sangju Sangmu, Pohang and even Guangzhou Evergrande all leaving Daegu without the three points Suwon face a stern task to get a win that they desperately need. Upcoming home games against Pohang Steelers and Gangwon FC won’t be easy either, given the form that both those teams are in. And even after that, Suwon will face off with FC Seoul and Jeonbuk Hyundai, making this match with Daegu even more important.

If Suwon lose this game, with their upcoming run of fixtures being so difficult, you have to assume that they will be looking over their shoulders at the bottom of the table rather than planning a push into that top six. They currently lie only 6 points away from the Relegation Play-off spot and with the table changing so much at the moment they could realistically be occupying 11th place come the end of June.

It is now or never for Lee Lim-saeng. He has been given the benefit of the doubt thus far but if he persists with his current tactics and the team slip further towards the bottom of the table he can expect to receive a more hostile reception from the Suwon fans. Even club legend Seo Jung-won couldn’t escape the fan protests in 2016 when the club famously skirted with relegation, so it would only be a matter of time before Lee feels that wrath too.

- Scott Whitelock

Who To Watch

This will be Korea international goalkeeper Jo Hyunwoo’s 200th game in a Daegu shirt if he starts on Sunday against Suwon. The shot stopper started his professional career with the Sky Blues back in 2013 and since then he has become a key figure in Daegu FC.

With the first team becoming so fatigued, particularly a few of  the defenders like Hong Jungwoon and Kim Wooseok, and front men such as Edgar, Cesinha, and Kim Daewon, the shot stopper’s role will be particularly important for results.

In this season, he has been the first choice for Andre’s side for all 12 K League games Daegu have played. He has kept a clean sheet for six of those games with only eight goals conceded, which is the fewest goals conceded in the K League.

Prediction

Because of the fatigue issues Daegu FC appear to be at a disadvantage compared to Suwon Bluewings. However, Daegu FC are still unbeaten on their turf in the K League, so I cautiously expect a 1-1 draw.

Predicted score: Daegu FC 1-1 Suwon Bluewings

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