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Preview: Jeju United vs FC Seoul

Preview: Jeju United vs FC Seoul K League 1 Round 20
Jeju United head into their midweek clash against FC Seoul off of a bleak 2-0 away loss to Suwon Bluewings.  Their opponents, meanwhile, drew 2-2 with Gangwon FC and now sit two points off the summit after nineteen rounds.  The first time these two sides met, it ended in a goalless stalemate.  However, the club from the capital has traditionally been a thorn in the side for Jeju, and with the islanders reeling in the midst of a six match winless run, it seems very little will change on Wednesday night. KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to the tie.

Match: Jeju United vs FC Seoul
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Wednesday July 10th, 2019; 19:30 KST

Last Time Out

Suwon Bluewings 2-0 Jeju United

Jeju fell flat once more in their trip north to the Big Bird against Suwon Bluewings on Sunday night.  First half goals from Adam Taggart and Choi Sung-keun were more than enough to see off the islanders, who have now gone six matches without a win.  Suwon completely dominated the first half, and by the time the whistle had blown for the teams to go into the break, the match was already beyond doubt.

Jeju, as they have failed to do on too many occasions this season, were not clinical in the offensive third.  They were in fact the better team in the second half, but could not find the back of the net.  Suwon admittedly took their foot off the gas pedal a bit after taking the lead, and did just enough to preserve a clean sheet over the course of ninety minutes.

Highlights: here

FC Seoul 2-2 FC Gangwon

In what was an entertaining but controversial affair, FC Seoul salvaged a point at home to Gangwon last Saturday, but some may contend that the result was tarnished because of a missed call by the match referee which could have given the away side all three points on the night.

The home side would go into the lead on 28 minutes through Park Dong-jin, who took his defender one on one and fired a low shot into the net.  It came against the run of play, as Gangwon had most of the possession up to that point, but Jung Jo-gook wasn't sharp enough in front of goal to put the visitors in front.  Gangwon would, however, level the match on the stroke of halftime, as Kim Ji-hyeon volleyed home a cross from the right, and for all their efforts, deserved to be level at the break.

Gangwon continued their forward press in the second half, and it resulted in them taking the lead in the 58th minute as Kim bagged his second of the match, putting home a rebound after a shot from just outside the box was kept out by Yun Sang-hun.  

The match took a turn for the worse when Gangwon should have gone 3-1 up, but had a clear goal called back.  The referee consulted VAR and an offside decision was rendered, but upon further examination of the replay, offside was not clearly defined and the goal should have stood.  That opened the door for second half substitute Cho Young-wook to bring the hosts level again on 73 minutes with a close range shot which took a strong touch off Kim Ho-jun and ended up over the line.  The equalizer was also tainted in controversy as VAR was consulted a second time to review whether or not Osmar had committed a foul against Lee Hyun-sik in the buildup leading to the goal, and, although it seemed a foul had been committed, the goal was allowed to stand.

Gangwon have reason to feel they were hard done by, not just because of the controversial calls, but because they were in fact the better side on the night and only managed to come away with a draw, but will have a chance to make amends when they host Sangju in midweek.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

The sides last met in mid-March and neither team was able to score in what was a tough match for both.  While things have traditionally gone in FC Seoul's favor in this head to head fixture, things were a bit more even last season, as each side won once and one match ended in a draw, although Wednesday night's visitors to the island got their win by a considerable margin, a 3-0 win in August.

Team News

Choi Yun-kyum has had enough time to get to know his players since taking over at the beginning of May.  He has wasted too much time calculating his lineup decisions and needs to establish a go-to eleven for the remainder of the season, or at least for the summer portion of the schedule.

Starting Im Chan-ul up front with Magno against Suwon made no sense whatsoever, as Im is not suited to the position, nor does he possess the finishing skills needed for a player up top.  He is a winger, and should play primarily in that role.  

The central defence pairing of Aleks Jovanovic and Kim Seung-woo faltered once again which led to Suwon's first goal, as Adam Taggart was able to pounce on their mistake to fire past Lee Chang-keun.  The rookie is still raw and needs a bit more time to adjust to the speed of professional football.  Being responsible for goals at this stage in his young career can only hamper his development.  Besides, Kim Dong-woo is a player who has experience and would be a better fit in the middle of a back four.

On the subject of Aleks, one thing he has neglected to do this season is shoot the ball.  He is certainly capable of testing goalkeepers, and has a good shot, so having a few more hits at goal would serve his confidence well.  It seems to be an epidemic which has spread through the team where a lot of players are concerned.  Jeju have been more than decent in their buildup play, but are passing on too many shots, and should that continue, it will be difficult for them to score goals the rest of the way.

Lee Keun-ho and Jung Woo-jae were introduced at the start of the second half against Jeju, and the islanders instantly looked like a different team going forward.  There is no more time to be passive - both should be given the start against Seoul on Wednesday night if Jeju is to have any chance to get points.

Fans may also be able to expect that newly acquired Nam Jun-jae, who came over to the island in a swap deal for Kim Ho-nam, will see his first action for his new club.  The former Incheon captain could be a force on the wing and bring some offensive presence to a team lacking it for much of the season.  He appeared thirteen times for his former club this season, scoring once.

There are no suspensions in the team, but it is difficult to predict what kind of lineup Choi Yun-kyum will go with.  The constant rolling of the dice has not paid off, and the time has come to stabilize the squad, as several players may begin to show concern over a lack of consistent playing time, as may have been the case with Tiago, who recently left the club.

For FC Seoul, league leading scorer Aleksandar Pešić will be out six weeks because of a fractured toe, according to our Paul Neat.  They also have some injuries in other areas of the pitch, as central defender Kim Nam-chun has been out all season with an undisclosed injury, while central defender Kim Won-kyun has also missed significant time with a foot injury.  Central midfielder Ha Dae-sung has been out of the lineup since March with a calf issue.

Little should change from the side that played against Gangwon, as Choi Yong-soo is a "creature of habit" says our FC Seoul columnist.  Cho Young-wook may get a start, but chances are Park Dong-jin will get the nod as he plays with a lot of energy, and also added a goal to his season tally last time out.

There are no suspensions in the side, but Park Chu-young, Ko Kwang-min, Cho Young-wook and Jung Hyeon-cheol are all on two yellows for the season.

The Adversary


FC Seoul have rebounded well following last season's disaster which saw them on the brink of relegation before dispatching of Busan IPark to stay in the top flight.  Things this season have been much different with the return of Osmar Ibáñez Barba from his loan spell in the J.League with Cerezo Osaka.  The Spanish midfielder has scored four goals for the club this season and has returned stability to a group that was lacking for long spells last year.

Uzbek international Ikromjon Alibaev has been a great addition to the club as well.  In seventeen appearances this season, he has contributed three goals and four assists, and has established himself as a viable attacking presence for the team moving forward.  He has played a full ninety minutes in all but four matches thus far, and will likely be a factor come Wednesday night.

They are currently on a ten match unbeaten run, with their last loss in the league dating back to April 28th against Jeonbuk.  One thing which may be concerning however, is the fact that their last clean sheet came on May 25th, a scoreless draw against Pohang Steelers, but with Jeju firing blanks, chances are the back line will not have a lot of work on their hands.

Prediction

All indicattions point to a win for FC Seoul in this one.  Their current form is markedly different to when the teams met early in the season.  FThere are no suspensions in the side, but Park Chu-young, Ko Kwang-min, Cho Young-wook and Jung Hyeon-cheol are all on two yellows for the season.  To their credit, Jeju were also combative in that match, but have lacked urgency on too many occasions this season.

The absence of Pesic should not be a cause for too much concern in this one - Seoul still have enough firepower to overcome a weak Jeju side which concedes cheaply and then falls out of matches once going behind.  The feeling is that it won't be much different in midweek unless Jeju can field an eleven that is willing to compete.

Predicted Score: Jeju United 1-3 FC Seoul

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