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Preview: FC Seoul vs Gangwon FC

Preview: FC Seoul vs Gangwon FC K League 1 Round 25
FC Seoul could take a huge step forward in their pursuit of AFC Champions League football for next term should Choi Yongsoo's men see off the challenge of fourth placed Gangwon FC this Sunday in K League 1 Round 25. Gangwon FC, though, make the trip to the capital in good form having lost just once in their last five with three wins, placing them five points clear of Daegu in fifth. Kim Byungsoo's men fought back from 3-1 down to snatch a draw against Champions Jeonbuk and so will head to Sangam full of confidence.

Overview

via Soccerway


Last Time Out

FC Seoul 2-1 Daegu FC

For the third time this season FC Seoul picked up a 2-1 win over Daegu FC last Friday night thanks to goals from Park Chuyoung and Park Dongjin. With just two minutes on the clock, a cheeky back-heel from Jung Wonjin teed up Park Chuyoung to slot the ball into the bottom corner, wrong-footing Daegu goalkeeper Jo Hyeonwoo for his sixth league goal of the campaign.

Daegu had a chance to draw level from the spot after referee Kim Woosung gave the visitors a penalty for handball. However, Cesinha's stop-start run up meant that his spot-kick was under-powered and straight at Seoul custodian Yoo Sanghoon. In the second period Seoul managed to find another, this time through Park Dongjin who nodded home at the far post, latching onto a Go Yohan cross from the right to net his sixth goal of the season. To make matters worse for the visitors, two minutes later Daegu were a man short after defender Kim Wooseok was shown a second yellow for a cynical trip on Park Chuyoung.

The game wasn't over yet though as Seoul were also reduced to ten men with Ko Kwangmin shown a straight red for a foul on Rildo, the left wing-back lunged in as a the last man and left the referee with little choice but to reach for his card. Shortly after the Sky Blues pulled a goal back through Cesinha, the Brazilian finding the bottom corner from just inside the box.

Highlights




Gangwon FC 3-3 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Gangwon fought back from 3-1 down to earn a late, late draw at home to Champions Jeonbuk Hyundai last Sunday. The visitors took a fourth minute lead via Lim Sunyoung, steering home a Moon Seonmin cut back from little over six yards out. However, veteran striker Jung Jogook levelled on the stroke of half time to see the game square heading into the break.

On 72 minutes, Jeonbuk regained the lead via a Samuel Rosa penalty, a first since joining the club towards the tail-end of the summer transfer window. Somewhat fortuitously, Rosa bagged his second nine minutes later with what looked to be enough to seal the win for Jose Morais' side. However, Cho Jaewan levelled on 91 minutes before Lee Youngjae fired in a 99th minute equaliser from the spot.

Highlights




Previous Meetings

FC Seoul have come up against Gangwon FC three times already this season, twice in the league and once in the FA Cup, recording a win, a draw and a loss. The most recent was a 2-2 draw at Sangam in early July when a Kim Jihyun brace turned the game on its head after Park Dongjin had given Seoul the lead. However, Cho Youngwook was able to rescue a point for Seoul with a 73rd minute equaliser.

The two other encounters that took place this season were both in Chuncheon's Songam Stadium. The first was back in April when a brace from Aleksandar Pešić either side of a Kim Jihyun strike in the 50th minute gave Seoul a 2-1 win. Just three days later and these two teams met in the fourth round of the FA Cup and, despite a Park Chuyoung double, Seoul crashed out of the cup with Uroš Đerić finding a late winner.

Overall, FC Seoul and Gangwon FC have faced each other a total of 21 times with FC Seoul picking up 12 wins compared to Gangwon's five and four draws. In the capital, Seoul have five wins and two draws from 10 meetings. Gangwon's most recent win at Sangam came at the beginning of the 2018 season, a 2-1 win with an Lee Woonghee own goal cancelling out Park Chuyoung's opener before Jung Jogook turned the game on its head just before the hour mark.

Team News

Pešić (R) with his understudy Park Dongjin (L).

News which FC Seoul fans will have been waiting to hear is that the return of star striker Aleksandar Pešić is imminent. The Serbian was leading the K League 1 golden boot race before suffering a fractured toe in the 2-2 draw with Ulsan Hyundai on 30th June. However, it was reported in the media in the lead up to Sunday's game that the 27 year-old should be fit enough for the bench.

Elsewhere, Cho Youngwook is a doubt after pulling up with a hamstring problem just 10 minutes into Seoul's 2-1 win over Daegu last Friday. Full back-turned-forward, Park Dongjin, is expected to start in his place. Left wing-back Ko Kwangmin is also out after being shown a straight red card in said win over Daegu, Kim Hangil is widely expected to slot straight in like-for-like swap. Shin Jaewon has returned to fitness following a short injury layoff and so could be brought into the matchday squad. Centre back Kim Namchun is also nearing a return having turned out for the reserves in recent weeks but centre back Kim Wonkyun and midfielder Ha Daesung remain long term doubts.

Against Daegu, Choi Yongsoo opted for defensive midfielder Jung Hyeoncheol at the heart of his back three with Osmar as the holding midfielder. Coach Choi likes to have a centre back who can pass and build from the back, hence why the likes of Kim Wonsik, Osmar, and Jung have all been tried in that position. Elsewhere, Jung Wonjin's assist for Park Chuyoung's opener, not to mention a consolation goal against Ulsan in round 23, may well be enough for the former Pohang attacking midfielder to keep his place in the centre of midfield alongside Ikromjon Alibaev with Go Yohan as right wing-back.

FC Seoul starting lineup versus Daegu FC, K League 1 Round 24.


The Adversary



Gangwon FC's run of just two defeats in 11 with five wins and four draws has seen the Chuncheon-based side move comfortably into fourth place, five points behind FC Seoul but five points ahead of Daegu FC. Manager Kim Byungsoo has been at the centre of Gangwon's mid-season surge with plenty of the plaudits heading the way of the former Seoul E-Land gaffer. Coach Kim's style of play, 'Byungsoo Ball', as it is commonly being referred to as, is possession-based with the likes of Han Kookyoung pivotal in recycling possession and dictating the pace of play. Han has played in each and every single one of Gangwon's 24 K League 1 matches this season and has made the most passes out of any player in the top flight with 1,660, averaging at 64.42 per 90 minutes, also the most in the division.

Set up in a 4-3-3, Gangwon also top the K League 1 charts with the number of passes made and the most per 90 minutes and the most accurate with an 85.8% pass completion rate. Such high rates of passes made has resulted in Gangwon also have the most possession in the league with 58.1%.

Gangwon FC starting lineup versus Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, K League 1 Round 24.

What To Watch

Contrasting Styles


Choi Yongsoo's counter-attacking style coming up against Kim Byungsoo's possession-based football is sure to make for an other interesting match-up between the two sides. With Gangwon averaging at 58.1% possession and FC Seoul at 47% it is perhaps clear to see what sort of football the two managers prefer to play. Seoul will look to hit Gangwon on the counter attack but will need to be patient against a Gangwon side who will keep possession and move the ball with relative ease.

Ko Kwangmin's absence through suspension is a huge miss for Seoul meaning that Choi Yongsoo may stick with the experience of Go Yohan at right wing-back if Kim Hangil, or even first year professional Shin Jaewon, is brought in on the opposite flank. In Coach Choi's 3-5-2, the wing-backs are of huge importance in Seoul's ability to carry the ball up the field. Likewise, Gangwon will have to be careful not to leave themselves exposed with the likes of Ikromjon Alibaev and Park Chuyoung not afraid to carry the ball forward and have a look at goal from distance.


Prediction

Given that the gap between the two teams is now at five points, a win for either team could be huge in the hunt for AFC Champions League football next season. An FC Seoul victory and that gap may well be too vast for the chasing pack to make up. However, a win for Kim Byungsoo's Gangwon and suddenly Seoul's grip on third place is much less firm. However, at home, Seoul should prove too strong for Gangwon. Park Chuyoung and Park Dongjin in particular are in the form of their lives, certainly for the former the best form since returning to K League in 2015. A 2-1 win for Seoul with goals from Park Dongjin and Park Chuyoung, as has been the case on several occasions this term, will not be at all surprising. What would be a surprise is if Seoul are able to keep a cleansheet, plus Jung Jogook and Kim Jihyun have form for scoring against FC Seoul.

[LISTEN: KLU Pod: Transfer Window and Marquee Matches]


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