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Preview: Pohang Steelers vs FC Seoul

Preview: Pohang Steelers vs FC Seoul K League 1
FC Seoul head to the Steelyard this Saturday to take on Pohang Steelers in K League 1 Round 30 looking to make it two wins in a row. With just nine games left of the season, and four before the split, both sides will be keen to pick up all three points. For FC Seoul, ACL qualification is the target and so Choi Yongsoo and his men will be determined to maintain their five point gap over Gangwon FC in fourth. Pohang, meanwhile, are just three points behind Suwon Bluewings in sixth and so could mount a late push for a top six finish.

Overview

via Soccerway

Last Time Out

Daegu FC 0-0 Pohang Steelers 

Pohang made the short trip to DGB Park in hope a third win on the spin but had to make do with a point against a determined Daegu side. Andre's men will perhaps feel that they shaded it with nine shots to Pohang's seven, four on target and two for the Steelers but the match ended in a stalemate. The draw leaves Daegu in fifth and Pohang in eighth.

Highlights



FC Seoul 3-1 Incheon United

FC Seoul ended a run of four games without a win by coming from behind to beat Gyeongin Derby rivals Incheon United last Sunday. A mistake from Kim Wonsik allowed Stefan Mugoša to slide the ball into the path of Kim Honam, who tucked the ball into the bottom corner with aplomb to give the Durumi the lead in the 25th minute.

However, Seoul mounted a second half fight back, first with Ju Sejong finding the bottom corner from the edge of the box just shy of the hour mark, Park Chuyoung with the assist. Then, just eight minutes later, it was Park's turn to find the net. After Go Yohan was scythed down in the box, Park Chuyoung stepped up to fire a penalty into the top corner to give Seoul the lead. Substitute Jung Wonjin capped off a good second half performance with a 91st minute strike, finding the far corner from Park Chuyoung's layoff.

Highlights

 

Previous Meetings

These two sides met on the opening day of the season when a Hwang Hyunsoo brace gave FC Seoul all three points. Since then the two sides played out a 0-0 draw for what was Seoul's last trip to the Steelyard. Last season, Seoul picked up two wins to Pohang's one, including a 3-0 rout in Pohang in July last year -  Go Yohan, Kim Wonkyun, and Evandro on target for the capital club. Prior to last season, Seoul's record at the Steelyard did not make great reading. Seoul had won just eight from 25 trips do the East Coast. From the last 10, Seoul have just one win with five losses and three draws.


Team News

Spanish central defender/defensive midfielder Osmar is suspended for the trip to the Steelyard having picked up a third caution of the season during the Gyeongin Derby win over Incheon on Sunday. However, Jung Hyeoncheol will be available for selection again having serving a one-match ban. The former Gyeongnam man had began this season as a defensive midfield player but shifted to central defense as manager Choi Yongsoo looks to shore up his backline. Young forward Cho Youngwook is also back in contention after a one-match ban.

FC Seoul starting lineup versus Incheon United, K League 1 R29.


The Adversary



Sitting in eighth place but just three points behind Suwon Samsung Bluewings in sixth, Pohang Steelers will feel as though they have a genuine chance of making it into the top half of the split for a second successive season. The Steelers welcome Seoul on the back of a three game unbeaten run; the 0-0 draw away to Daegu was preceded by an incredible 5-3 win over Incheon and a 1-0 victory over fellow mid-table Seongnam. However, against any of the current top four, Pohang have just two wins from 10 matches, both of those wins did however come at the Steelyard - a 2-1 East Sea Derby win over rivals Ulsan Hyundai in May, and a 1-0 win over Gangwon in April.

Under manager Kim Kidong Pohang Steelers tend to be set up with a back four but with varying midfield combinations. For the Steelers' last three home games Coach Kim has used a 4-4-1-1 (1-0 win over Seongnam, and the 2-1 defeat to Jeonbuk) and a 4-1-4-1 (5-3 win over Incheon United). Against teams who can drop into the hole behind the main striker, Kim likes to have a holding midfielder such as Jung Jaeyong. But, when facing a team in the bottom half of the table, Incheon being the exception due Mugoša's movement tendency to arrive late in the box, Pohang for the most part have utilised an extra man in attack, sometimes as a shadow behind Stanislav Iljutcenko or in a front two. Lee Jinhyun, who was part of Korea's 2018 Asian Games winning squad has occupied that role, as has Serbian attacking midfielder Aleksandar Paločević when transitioning into a 4-2-3-1 as per the 1-0 win over Seongnam two rounds ago. With FC Seoul playing with two strikers, and Park Chuyoung showing a recent tendency to drop deep to pick up the ball, Pohang could be set out with a screening midfielder and using Iljutcenko as their outlet on the counter.

Prior to the 0-0 draw with Daegu last week, Pohang had found the back of the net in 12 consecutive games and their last six at home. Furthermore, Pohang have made the second highest amount of passes in the division, and the second most per 90 minutes, and third in K League 1 for accuracy. In terms of smart passes, which is deemed as every creative pass to escape a player's marker, Pohang are third in the division. Interestingly, Saturday's opponents FC Seoul first. It's a similar story when talking about key passes also; Pohang are third in the division for the number of key passes made and third for the number of key passes made per 90 minutes.


Pohang Steelers starting lineup versus Daegu FC, K League 1 Round 29.

What To Watch

Pohang's Right-Hand Side

Wanderson (C) and Kim Yonghwan (R) celebrate a goal away to Incheon United.
The K League Player of the Month for August, Wanderson, who scored five goals and laid on three assists throughout the month, has been ever present for Pohang Steelers this term. As a result, the Brazilian is joint top in K League 1 for combined goals and assists with 17,  having scored 12 goals and recorded five assists, along with Daegu's Cesinha, Ulsan's Junior, Suwon Bluewings' Adam Taggart, and Jeonbuk's Moon Seonmin. Backing Wanderson on the right-hand side up is former Seoul E-Land full back Kim Yonghwan who is in the top five for the number of passes made into the final third. Seoul's left-hand side, likely to be wing-back Ko Kwangmin, and which centre back steps in to replace Osmar, will have to be wary of the space in behind for Wanderson and Kim Yonghwan to operate.

Prediction

The 3-1 win over Incheon United is exactly what FC Seoul needed, but with just a five point gap separating Choi Yongsoo's side with Gangwon, who face a tough trip to Ulsan, an assertive win against Pohang would send Seoul into the split sitting fairly comfortably. Both Osmar and Park Chuyong spoke this week about how Seoul need to be more aggressive and attack-minded and so it should be expected that Choi Yongsoo's side will take the game to Pohang on Saturday. Both teams tend to score most of their goals in the last 15 minutes of matches, more so Seoul who have bagged 31% of all goals between the 75th and 90th minutes, and so an away win with a strong second half could be on the cards for Seoul.




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