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Preview: Seongnam FC vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

K League 1 Preview: Seongnam FC vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

It is the Magpies biggest test of the year so far as they play host to K League powerhouse and reigning champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. A result here would give Seongnam significant momentum and confidence going into the second third of the season while Jeonbuk will be hoping to make quick work of the Magpies and stay atop of the K League table. 

Last Time Out

It's no secret that while Seongnam FC has been able to hold its own defensively, offensively the team has struggled this season and it was more of the same last week as Seongnam FC played Incheon United to a 0-0 draw. Though still picking up one point, Magpie fans couldn't help but take this as a loss considering United's place in the table and the huge match up coming this week.

Highlights can be viewed here.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, on the other hand, are coming off an incredible last-minute victory against another top opponent in FC Seoul. Jeonbuk had taken the lead at the end of the first half through attacking midfielder Lee Seung-gi after Seoul had been reduced to ten men. Ikromjon Alibaev was ordered off the pitch after picking up his second yellow card in the 33rd minute.

Trailing 1-0 towards the end of the match Seoul striker Aleksandar Pešić scored an equalizer in the 88th minute. At that point the match seemed destined to end in a 1-1 draw however the referee added a significant amount of added time and then continued to add more when a play needed a video review. This led to Jeonbuk midfielder Han Seung-gyu scoring the game winning goal in the 98th minute which sent their players and their fans into a frenzy.

Highlights can be viewed here.

Previous Meetings

The last match-up between these two sides was all the way back in 2016 due to Seongnam's relegation following the conclusion of that season. During that season, Jeonbuk won two of their match-ups with the remaining one ending in a 1-1 draw. Seongnam are hoping for a better result this year.

Team News

Seongnam has no one on suspension this week. However, there are still some players in yellow card jeopardy. Midfielders Kim Min-hyeok and Kim Jeong-hyun have both accumulated two cards each. Additionally attacker Kong Min-hyun has two. All three of these players have played a crucial role in Seongnam's attack and so it'll be interesting to see how Nam Ki-il handles this.

The Adversary

Having rediscovered their form somewhat after the international break against opposition they were expected to beat, Jeonbuk faced an FC Seoul side that posed their first domestic challenge in a while. While the dramatic last-gasp victory will go someway to reaffirming the belief in the players, their should still be question marks lingering based on the manner of the win. After all, Jeonbuk played with a man advantage for the majority of the match yet rarely seemed to trouble the FC Seoul goalkeeper.

The players should be wary of a reprieve against Seongnam FC as the Magpies have proved to be stubborn opposition in recent weeks, conceding just twice in the six matches played throughout April. It seems unlikely Jeonbuk manager Jose Morais will make considerable changes to his team, likely sticking to his 4-1-4-1 formation with the hope that overlapping wing-backs Lee Yong and Kim Jin-su can help stretch what is likely to be a compact defence.

The manager may opt to reinstall Son Jun-ho, however. The central midfielder sat out the Seoul match due to suspension and the threat he can also provide from set-pieces will compliment the crossing threat provided from the two aforementioned wing-backs. With this in mind, and given his solid form, it would not be surprising to see towering striker Kim Shin-wook start this match to captialise on this. Morais may also look to rewarding Han Seung-gyu a rare start after the youngster's dramatic winner against FC Seoul. The reigning Young Player of the Year is yet to get a consistent run in his team but this would seem a good opportunity to test him.

- Matthew Binns

Who To Watch

With Seongnam's offensive production lacking this season (averaging one goal per match) it has been the defense that has allowed them to crawl their way up to the middle of the pack. Two players in particular have been crucial to their defensive success. Yeon Je-yoon and Ahn Young-gyu have started every match this season and have been pivotal in keeping Seongnam alive in every match throughout the first ten rounds of the season. With Jeonbuk having one of the league's best offenses one can expect possession to be a bit lob-sided in Jeonbuk's favor and with that will come a barrage of attacks. The Magpie's best hopes for a result this week rest on the shoulders of their defense.


While Seongnam's defense has been strong so far Jeonbuk is an offensive powerhouse and will likely be too much to handle for the Magpies. I expect Jeonbuk to dominate the match and not give Seongnam many opportunities to score.

Seongnam FC 0 - 2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

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