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Preview: FC Seoul vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Preview: FC Seoul vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Third place FC Seoul, gunning for a return to the ACL for the first time in three years, host second place Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors this Sunday. Jeonbuk know that anything less than a win at Sangam could have huge implications on where the K League 1 title will end up come the end of the season. Seoul, meanwhile, will be looking for just their second win in six and first win over Jeonbuk in seven meetings.


via Soccerway

Last Time Out

FC Seoul 1-1 Jeju United

FC Seoul looked on course to pick up only their second win in five but an Elías Aguilar free kick in the dying embers ensured that the spoils were shared in Seogwipo. Seoul took the lead via a Yun Jutae header from a corner, glancing in a corner from the left-hand side for what was the 29 year-old's first of the season.

Yun's goal looked to be enough to earn a first maximum on the island since 2017 but Costa Rican international midfielder Aguilar struck a beautiful free kick in time added on to earn the hosts a valuable point in their bid to avoid the drop.


Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 1-1 Seongnam FC

Jeonbuk fought back from a goal down to salvage a draw at home to newly promoted Seongnam FC last weekend but lose ground in the race for a seventh K League crown. A Lim Chaemin penalty just before the hour mark gave the Magpies an unlikely lead but Brazilian striker Samuel Rosa, with his third in the green of Jeonbuk, levelled with just one minute of the 90 remaining.

The draw, along with Ulsan's 5-1 win at home to Sangju, meant that Jose Morais' side slipped to second, one point behind the Horangi.


Previous Meetings

From the two previous encounters this term Jeonbuk have emerged as victors on both occasions. The first came at the beginning of the season at Jeonju World Cup Stadium where a 97th minute Han Seunggyu strike earned Jeonbuk the lion's share of the spoils. Aleksandar Pešić had sprung the offside trap to fire in a 90th minute equaliser, cancelling out an Lee Seunggi strike on the stroke of half time. However, deep, deep into time added on, Han Seunggyu bundled the ball in from close range to send the Joenbuk fans into delirium.

In the last meeting at Sangam in mid July, a brace each from Hong Jeongho and Park Dongjin ensured that the score was level heading into the last 15 minutes. However, Kim Seungdae came off the bench to net his first goal since swapping Pohang for Jeonbuk on 77 minutes before Brazilian star Ricardo Lopes put the game out of sight with six minutes remaining.

Jeonbuk have come out on top in six of the last seven meetings and haven't lost against FC Seoul since July 2017 when a Park Chuyoung winner in the last minute gave Hwang Sunhong's men the three points. Overall, these two giants of Korean football have met on 55 occasions; Jeonbuk have 23 wins to FC Seoul's 17 and 15 draws. In the capital, there have been 28 previous meetings, Jeonbuk have 13 wins whilst Seoul have 10.

Team News

FC Seoul will welcome back captain Go Yohan after the 31 year-old utility man served a one-match ban. However, veteran striker Park Chuyoung, who has missed Seoul's last two games through injury, is out meaning that Yun Jutae could keep his place in attack. However, the energy and effervescent nature of Park Dongjin may give Seoul gaffer Choi Yongsoo something to think about ahead of Sunday's huge clash. Central midfielders Ju Sejong and Lee Myoungju are back training with FC Seoul but aren't eligible to play until after the forthcoming international break. Elsewhere, Kim Wonkyun and Ha Daesung are Seoul's only long term absentees.

FC Seoul starting lineup versus Jeju United, K League 1 Round 27.

The Adversary

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, under the stewardship of Jose Morais, the club's first permanent foreign manager, do not find themselves atop the K League 1 table. The six time K League champions have seldom seen a title race this close at this particular stage of the campaign. Last year the North Jeolla side won the league at a canter, finishing 21 points clear of Gyeongnam. Even heading into the split, the Green Warriors had a 19-point lead. Prior to the split in 2017 Jeonbuk had a six point lead, slender compared to that of 2018, but still a healthy lead nonetheless. Before a points deduction in 2016, Jeonbuk were 14 points clear, but ended up losing the title to FC Seoul on the final day of the season. In 2015 Jeonbuk had an eight point lead heading into the split, the year before that it was 10. In short, with split just around the corner, Jeonbuk have not experienced a title race as close as this. Sunday's match holds huge importance for Jeonbuk, anything less than a victory could see the gap between themselves and Ulsan widen once again, just a couple of weeks after regaining the upper hand over their South Gyeongsang counterparts.

However, one thing that remains the same is the 4-1-4-1 formation, a system that was favoured by former manager Choi Kanghee towards the end of his tenure with a club which he won six titles with and two ACL crowns. His predecessor Jose Morais is seemingly of the opinion that if it isn't broke, don't fix it and so, heading into Sunday's match with FC Seoul, the only likely change to the starting lineup is Kim Seungdae being dropped with Samuel Rosa, who bagged the late equaliser against Seongnam, stepping in. In the centre, Han Seunggyu has been deployed as the attacking midfielder for the last few matches. Han of course fired in the late, late equaliser when these two sides met at the beginning of the season. With no suspensions or injuries to concern himself with, Jose Morais should have a full squad at his disposal, a squad which trained behind closed doors again earlier in the week in the run up to this hugely important match. Jeonbuk often allow fans to observe training but against FC Seoul in July, and against Ulsan a fortnight ago.

Jeonbuk starting lineup versus Seongnam, K League 1 Round 27.

What To Watch

Space in Behind for Aleksander Pešić

Jeonbuk tend to attack FC Seoul, testament to the amount of goals the Green Warriors have scored at Sangam over the last couple of years. Just last month Jeonbuk fired four past Seoul in a 4-2 win and in the last match before the 2018 FIFA World Cup break, a rampant second half performance saw Choi Kanghee's Jeonbuk win 4-0. With an attack-minded set up, there is bound to be scope for space in behind for the likes of Aleksandar Pešić to exploit. The explosive striker likes balls to run onto in the channels or in behind. The Serbian former Red Star Belgrade striker scored a late equaliser when these two sides met in Jeonju at the start of the season, running onto a Park Dongjin flick on on the half way line before guiding the ball under the oncoming Song Bumkeun in the Jeonbuk goal.

Since returning form an eight-week layoff as the result of a broken toe, Pešić has looked somewhat rusty and lacking the sharpness which saw him bag a brace in the Super Match in June, his last goals in an FC Seoul shirt. But, with close to 200 minutes under his belt since his return, the 27 year-old will be looked open to produce moments of magic for Choi Yongoo's side once again.


Sunday's match perhaps holds more importance for the visitors Jeonbuk due to just how closely tested the title race is. Seoul have a healthy lead over fourth place and so a return to continental football in 2020 looks extremely likely. That said, with just one win in their last five, the capital club won't be too confident heading into Sunday's match. A narrow Jeonbuk win will be the most likely outcome but if Seoul can provide good service to Pešić then a positive result won't be beyond them.

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