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Preview: Pohang Steelers vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

K League 1 Preview: Pohang Steelers vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Having fallen four points behind in the K League 1 title race, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors find themselves in the unusual position of chasing the league leaders. Sunday evening sees the North Jeolla outfit head to The Steel Yard to face an inconsistent Pohang Steelers side that have given them plenty of headaches in recent meetings.

Last Time Out

Gangwon FC 3-3 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Jeonbuk travelled to Chuncheon to line up against a Gangwon FC side that have been drawing plaudits in recent weeks for their attacking style of play. Having dropped points against Jeju United in the prior round, Jeonbuk could not afford to slip up once more, especially given that Ulsan had claimed victory elsewhere 24 hours prior. The visitors looked to have gotten off to the best possible start when Lim Sun-young fired in a volley from close range within the opening minutes of the match. Jeonbuk maintained the pressure for the first half an hour but, the longer they went without a second, the more Gangwon found the way back into proceedings. Jung Jo-gook thought he had equalised in the 37th minute but VAR proclaimed winger Lee Yeong-jae was in an offside position in the buildup. However, Lee Yong-jae would not be denied his assist, supplying Jung Jo-gook once more moments later with a pull-back to the far post for the veteran to tap in.

Jeonbuk retook the lead through somewhat controversial circumstances. Moon Seon-min was judged to have been fouled in the penalty area, despite complaints to the contrary, earning his team a kick from the spot. The foul could be considered soft, to say the least. New signing and substitute Samuel Rosa converted the penalty to open his account for the club. Rosa would double his lead with an effort from the edge of the area in the 83rd minute, though the Gangwon 'keeper should have done far better. As we have seen already this season though, Gangwon are dangerous until the end, and when Cho Jae-wan curled in an excellent shot in the first of a minimum of six minutes of injury time, the fans were led to believe they could pull off an upset once more. Kim Seung-dae nearly confirmed the result for Jeonbuk moments later when he struck the post, but it would be Gangwon who would have the last laugh, earning a penalty from a Son Jun-ho handball in the final minute for Lee Yeong-jae to convert and share the spoils.

Suwon Sasmung Bluewings 0-2 Pohang Steelers
Suwon had only lost one match in their previous seven going into this match, led by an on-fire Adam Taggart who could not stop scoring. The task set for Pohang was supposedly a tough one yet they came through this encounter with two goals, a clean sheet and a strong performance to match.

Lee Soo-bin opened the scoring for the visitors on the stroke of half-time with a low-struck shot from way out that found its way into the bottom corner. Although he saw it late, Suwon goalkeeper Noh Dong-geun may feel he could have done better to try and parry it wide. Pohang doubled their lead thanks to Wanderson on the hour mark. The Brazilian ran through the defence and onto a superb pass from Lee Soo-bin, calmly slotting beyond the 'keeper to all but confirm the points for the Steelers. Suwon did have chances to salvage something from the match, including a disallowed goal for Dejan, but Pohang held strong to claim their first win in five outings.

Previous Meetings

These two sides last met in The Steel Yard just over a month ago with both sides walking away with a single point each from a 1-1 draw. Lim Sun-young took the lead for Jeonbuk that day, only for it to be cancelled out moments later by Wanderson.

The 26 times these two sides have played in Pohang also sees both sides level, each with eleven wins and four draws. The last time Pohang won at home was last summer, however, claiming a memorable 5-2 thrashing over the champions.

Team News

Jeonbuk are without central midfielder Son Jun-ho and central defender Hong Jeong-ho for this encounter due to yellow card accumulation over the season. These suspensions likely mean we will see a central defensive pairing of Kwon Kyung-won and Kim Min-hyeok for this encounter, with central midfield likely to include Shin Hyung-min in defensive midfield, sitting behind Lim Sun-young and either Jeong Hyeok or former Pohang player Kim Seung-dae. Kim is also an option to start up front but, given that Samuel Rosa found the net twice last weekend, the Brazilian could well be trusted to lead the line instead.

In terms of injuries, Jeonbuk continue to be without Choi Bo-kyung and Lee Seung-gi but winger Han Kyo-won continues on his road to recovery, having made a cameo appearance against Jeju United ten days ago.

The Adversary

Pohang tend to lineup in their preferred 4-3-3 formation, with recently signed Stanislav Iljtucenko being tasked with leading the line, especially after Kim Seung-dae switched from Pohang stripes to Jeonbuk neon green. The German striker has three goals in his six appearances so far this season though has been goalless in his last two.

However, it is perhaps Wanderson that will pose the biggest threat to the visitors. With eight goals already to his name, the Brazilian is often deployed on the right-wing but cuts into a central attacking position, often catching defenders off-guard with his pace. This was evident last weekend when he converted Pohang's second goal after leaving Suwon's defence flat-footed to latch on to a cross from deep.

Tactically speaking, Pohang's weakest aspect is in regards to their defensive duels. Not only do they feature highly for the number of times they engage in them (4th in the league), but their success rate is the worst of all twelve sides. Considering their counterattacking nature, engaging in more combative actions to win back possession and transition quickly is not too surprising, but to do so they need to be more effective in carrying it out. With Jeonbuk being a very possession-heavy side this season, Pohang's ability to reclaim the ball back and counter will be paramount if they are too catch the champions off guard

What To Watch

Kim Seung-dae's return to his old stomping ground, a place where he forged a glowing reputation with the fanbase, is likely to be the talking point on most people's lips. Kim was rumoured to have left the club to help assist with Pohang's financial difficulties and there will be likely no ill will aimed towards him on Sunday evening. However, while Kim is certainly a big enough threat alone, Samuel Rosa put in an encouraging display against Gangwon and it will be interesting to see if he can build on this come the weekend, potentially being handed his first start.


While Pohang may well be buoyed after a solid win against Suwon Bluewings last week, they face a Jeonbuk side that know a win is required of them if they are not to lose their grip on this title race. Even though Jeonbuk have drawn their last two games, there are cases to be made to suggest they should not have given the number of chances they have squandered. If Jeonbuk can keep Wanderson quiet, they should be able to return to winning ways on Sunday evening.

[READ: K League 1 Round 25 Preview]

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