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Preview: FC Seoul vs Ulsan Hyundai

Preview: FC Seoul vs Ulsan Hyundai K League 1 Round 18
It's Expat's Day at Seoul World Cup Stadium and heading into Round 18 of the 2019 K League 1 season, FC Seoul know that a win over title rivals Ulsan Hyundai could see the capital club move to the top of the table. Seoul have won their last four and are unbeaten in eight. Ulsan, though, will be keen to bounce back from the midweek ACL exit and extend the club's unbeaten run over FC Seoul to five matches dating back to 2017.

Overview

Preview: FC Seoul vs Ulsan Hyundai K League 1 Round 18
via Soccerway

Last Time Out

Daegu FC 1-2 FC Seoul

FC Seoul extended their impressive run of form to eight unbeaten with six wins and two draws by edging past top four contenders Daegu FC last Saturday. Uzbekistan international midfielder Ikromjon Alibaev got Seoul on their way, finding the top corner from the edge of the box in the 34th minute with his second of the season. The former Lokomotiv Tashkent midfielder picked up the ball from Go Yohan 20 yards out, took a touch, before firing past Korea international goalkeeper Jo Hyeonwoo.

Four minutes before the interval and Seoul were well and truly in the driver’s seat, defensive midfielder Jung Hyeoncheol doubling the visitors' advantage after converting from close range at an acute angle. Park Chuyoung’s corner from the left was missed by the head of Kim Wonsik and the left foot of Osmar but Jung was on hand at the back post, sliding in to make it 2-0.

However, six minutes after the restart and the hosts got themselves back in the game, Hwang Soonmin halving the deficit with after finishing off Cesinha’s attempt on goal. Daegu hit Seoul on the counter after a mid-placed pass from Ko Kwangmin in the centre of the park; Cesinha found himself one-on-one with Yoon Jonggyu, cut inside before directing the ball towards the far corner. Hwang Soonmin was on hand to ensure the ball nestled in the back of the net.

Daegu felt as though they ought to have had an equaliser when, on the counter attack once again, Cesinha sent the ball past Yoo Sanghoon only for VAR to intervene and rule the goal out for offside.

Highlights: here

Ulsan Hyundai 0-3 Urawa Red Diamonds 

Ulsan Hyundai crashed out of the AFC Champions League on Wednesday night after a 3-0 home loss to 2017 winners Urawa Red Diamonds. The J.League giants took the lead shortly before half time, Koroki Shinzo with a header from little over six yards out. The Urawa skipper bagged another with 10 minutes to go with a second headed goal of the evening, Horangi goalkeeper Oh Seunghoon was left rooted to the spot. The win was sealed in the 87th minute, Ewerton sweeping the ball home from inside the box after Kenyu Sugimoto's knockdown.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

FC Seoul made the long trip south to Ulsan in round five back in April full of confidence having gone the previous four matches unbeaten. However, Choi Yongsoo's side fell to their first defeat of the season, losing 2-1 at the Munsu thanks to goals from Mix Diskerud and Junior Negao. Park Chuyoung scored a late consolation goal in time added on.

Seoul have to look back to the tail end of the 2017 season for their most recent victory over Ulsan having come up short in the last four meetings with three defeats and a draw. At Seoul World Cup Stadium on 28th October of that year, goals from Lee Myeongju, Osmar, and Dejan sealed the win as Seoul pushed for an ACL place.

Overall, FC Seoul have come up against Ulsan Hyundai on 54 previous occasions, winning 16 and losing 16 with 22 draws. At Sangam these two sides are just as equally matched; Seoul have won six matches as have Ulsan with 16 draws.

Team News

K League 1 leading scorer, Aleksandar Pešić, is likely to return to the side after missing the trip to Daegu through injury; the Serbian striker has nine goals this season from 11 starts. Defenders Lee Woonghee, Kim Wonkyun, and Kim Namchun have all been absent in recent weeks, in the case of Kim Namchun the 30 year-old centre back is yet to make a first team appearance in 2019.

Given recent form, Osmar, Kim Wonsik and Hwang Hyunsoo will be expected to keep their places in the back three. Elsewhere, Cho Youngwook made his return to the side in the win over Daegu last time out, coming off the bench in the 66th minute for Park Dongjin and is expected to feature against Ulsan. Former club captain Ha Daesung remains a long term doubt with a calf injury.

Preview: FC Seoul vs Ulsan Hyundai K League 1 Round 18
FC Seoul starting lineup versus Daegu FC, K League 1 Round 17.


The Adversary

Preview: FC Seoul vs Ulsan Hyundai K League 1 Round 18
Kim Dohoon was appointed as manager of Ulsan in 2017.
Ulsan Hyundai, lead by manager Kim Dohoon, find themselves in the midst of a three horse race for the K League title, sitting just a point behind Jeonbuk and Sunday's opponents FC Seoul in third place. To allow extra time to prepare for the round of 16 ACL clash with Urawa Reds, Ulsan's home fixture with Sangju was postponed until the end of July meaning that the Horangi currently have a game in hand over their title rivals.

Ulsan rank third in K League 1 in terms of the number of touches inside the penalty area with 293 and have the fourth-best passing rate in the division with 14.1 passes per minute of possession. Manager Kim Dohoon has tended to line his side up in a 4-1-4-1/4-2-1-3 formation with two out and out wingers either side of leading goalscorer Junior Negao. Against Urawa in midweek, former FC Seoul wingback Kim Taehwan was utlised on the right wing with Kim Insung on the left. Kim Sungjun, who spent an injury-blighted spell at Sangam last season, was deployed as the attacking midfielder ahead of Mix Diskerud and another former FC Seoul player, Park Yongwoo.

Shin Jinho, who also enjoyed a spell with FC Seoul, is ruled out through injury and with no players set to miss the trip to the capital through suspension, Coach Kim will more or less have a full squad to choose from.

Preview: FC Seoul vs Ulsan Hyundai K League 1 Round 18
Ulsan Hyundai starting lineup versus Urawa Reds, ACL Round of 16.


What To Watch

Preview: FC Seoul vs Ulsan Hyundai K League 1 Round 18

The centre of the park is a key area for both FC Seoul and Ulsan Hyundai. FC Seoul like to win the ball back in midfield in order to hit their opponents on the counter, for Ulsan it's all about feeding the ball into the likes of Kim Insung and, as was the case against Urawa Reds on Wednesday, Kim Taehwan. Whereas FC Seoul try to feed the ball into Pešić in the space between centre back and full back, Ulsan will try to get the ball to the byline and attempt to pick out leading scorer Junior Negao.

Two individuals who are key to how their respective teams play are Mix Diskerud and Go Yohan. Mix's loan deal with the Ulsan is said to expire over the summer meaning that the Ulsan faithful may be waving goodbye to the former USA international midfielder in the very near future. Mix has three goals and one assist so far this season, including his strike against FC Seoul in April, and is vitally important to Ulsan's build-up play having been credited for two second assists and two third assists.

Go Yohan, meanwhile, has just one goal to his name this term but can boast of three assists, two of which came in Seoul's last two games. The Masan-born 31 year-old utility man has an 84% pass completion rate this term whilst 75% of all forward passes have reached their intended destination. Above all else though, the FC Seoul skipper's energy and effervescent nature is key to driving the team forward.

Prediction

Given the recent league form of both teams, Sunday's clash is set to be about fine margins. Seoul in second have scored just one more goal than Ulsan this term but have played a game more. Choi Yongsoo's side have slightly inferior defensive record having shipped three goals more.

After the defeat to Urawa in midweek, the Horangi will surely be sharpening their claws rather than licking their wounds, determined to stay hot on the heels of Jeonbuk. Seoul, meanwhile, will be full of confidence given recent results but the team's inability to keep cleansheets may be what costs them come Sunday. A draw may be the most likely outcome of this huge clash.

[WATCH: Live Show from El Juego]

[READ: K League 1 Round 18 Preview]


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