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Preview: FC Seoul vs Ulsan Hyundai

Preview: FC Seoul vs Ulsan Hyundai K League 1 Final Round A Round 36
FC Seoul host league leaders Ulsan Hyundai this Sunday afternoon in search of a first Final Round victory having lost to Gangwon and drawn with Jeonbuk. Ulsan, meanwhile, have two wins in two and sit three points clear at the top of the table. Both teams will be desperate for a positive result given their end of season targets; for FC Seoul it's all about clinching that last AFC Champions League spot, whilst the Horangi look on course for a first K League crown since 2005.

Overview

via Soccerway


Last Time Out

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 1-1 FC Seoul

FC Seoul picked up a valuable point away to 2018 K League 1 Champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on Saturday afternoon. Seoul took the lead early on, centre back Hwang Hyunsoo was left unmarked at the back post to turn in Park Chuyoung's corner.

From then on the visitors got men behind the ball and looked to defend their slender advantage. Jose Morais' men found it difficult to break down Seoul's stubborn defence but, as the K League legend has done for so long, Lee Donggook came off the bench in the second half to fire in a Jeonbuk equaliser after Seoul had failed to clear their lines. For Seoul any sort of result will have been seen as a positive, for Jeonbuk however, two points dropped at home allowed Ulsan to extend their lead at the top to three points.

Highlights



Ulsan Hyundai 2-1 Gangwon FC


Two quick fire Junior goals gave the Horangi a 2-0 lead at home to Gangwon on Sunday evening, the Brazilian doing his best to ease any pressure after knowing that a win would take the Horgani three points clear following Jeonbuk's draw with Seoul. The first was typical of the Brazilian, muscling his way through Gangwon's backline after latching onto a through-ball before clinically tucking the ball away in the second minute.

The second came just nine minutes later, Junior again this time nodding home from point blank range. But, Gangwon got themselves back into the game via a Nemanja Bilbija spot kick. Ulsan defender Kang Minsu was adjudged to have handled the ball allowing Bilbija to step up and fire in his first goal in K League. A lifeline it may have been, but Ulsan were able to hold on to secure a massive three points.

Highlights



Previous Meetings

Seoul's record against Ulsan over the last two years hasn't made pleasant reading for the Sangam faithful. From the six meetings Seoul have managed to pick up just two points having lost against the Horangi twice already this season and twice last term too. The most recent encounter was at the tail-end of July when Ulsan ran out comfortable 3-1 winners with two goals from Kim Bokyung and one from Hwang Ilsoo before Jung Wonjin added a consolation goal for Choi Yongsoo's men with little over five minutes remaining..

The most recent meeting at Sangam ended in a 2-2 draw, however, thanks to a late Kim Bokyung strike, salvaging a point for the South Gyeongsang side. Former FC Seoul wing-back Kim Taehwan gave his side a ninth minute lead only for goals from Alibaev and Park Dongjin to see the match swing in the hosts' favour. But, deep into time added on, Kim Bokyung found the back of the net to see the spoils shared.

FC Seoul's last win over Ulsan came at the back end of the 2017 season when Hwang Sunhong's side were still fighting for AFC Champions League qualification. Goals from Lee Myungjoo, Osmar, and Dejan in the first half gave Seoul a comfortable 3-0 win.

Overall, there have been 56 meetings between FC Seoul and Ulsan Hyundai: Ulsan have 17 wins to Seoul's 16 and 23 draws.

Team News

FC Seoul will be able to welcome midfield duo Ju Sejong and Ikromjon Alibaev back from suspension after the pair missed the trip to Jeonju at the weekend. However, club captain Go Yohan, who moved into midfield in the absence of Alibaev, is suspended after picking up a ninth yellow card of the campaign in the aforementioned visit to Jeonju Castle. Hwang Hyunsoo, Kim Wonsik, Jung Wonjin, and Park Chuyoung are all just one yellow away from a one-match ban. Striker Aleksandar Pešić could be set for a return after an injury layoff.

FC Seoul starting lineup versus Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, K League 1 Round 35.


For Ulsan, leading goalscorer and golden boot contender Junior Negao is suspended after picking up his third caution of the campaign in the win over Gangwon. However, Kim Bokyung, who fired in a late equaliser when Ulsan last travelled to Seoul, is back having served a suspension of his own. Yun Youngsun, Kim Taehwan, and Park Jooho are all one scribble in the referee's notepad from serving a suspension of their own.

Ulsan Hyundai starting lineup versus Gangwon FC, K League 1 R35.


Eulji Lewis 

The Adversary


Sitting three points clear at the top of the table, Ulsan Hyundai head into the last three matches of the season with the title in their own hands. Interestingly, the Horangi's record with title rivals Jeonbuk is, points tally aside, almost identical. Both teams have scored 68 goals and also have a similar goal difference of +34 to +37 in Jeonbuk's favour. With that in mind, Ulsan will need to ensure that they outscore Jeonbuk from now until the end of the season given that goals-scored is decider after points. Losing Golden Boot candidate Junior for Sunday's clash is a big blow. That said, Mix Diskerud has scored six, Kim Insung has nine and Kim Bokyung, who is returning form suspension, has 12 goals to his name this term and also bagged the late equaliser when Ulsan last visited Sangam, his third against Seoul this term.

For the last two matches Ulsan have been set up in a 4-4-1-1 by manager Kim Dohoon with Joo Minkyu behind Junior against Gangwon and Kim Bokyung in that role against Daegu the week before. However, in the late defeat to Pohang Steelers in the East Coast Derby, Kim Dohoon opted for a 4-2-3-1, again with Kim Bokyung in behind Junior but flanked by Kim Taehwan and Kim Insung in the second half, Park Jeongin in the first. The last time these two sides met it was a 4-4-1-1, when Ulsan ran out 3-1 winners at home, for the meeting at Seoul World Cup Stadium in June it was a 4-4-2 with Kim Bokyung up front alongside Joo Minkyu for the first 48 minutes before Junior came on to replace the former Seoul E-Land man. Ulsan will therefore be expected to line up in either a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 with Kim Bokyung playing close to Joo Minkyu.

As a team, Ulsan like to work the ball into the penalty area and have had the third most about of touches inside the 18-yard box and the third highest per 90 minutes. However, with wingers such as Kim Insung, Hwang Ilsoo, as well as wing-backs Kim Taehwan and Lee Donggyeong, Ulsan have also made the third most amount of crosses in K League 1 this term and are third for crossing accuracy with 36.7% of all crosses finding their intended target.

What To Watch



A big blow for Ulsan will be the loss of Junior who is forced to sit out the trip to the capital through suspension with Joo Minkyu expected to start in his place. Joo, who departed Seoul E-Land for Ulsan over the winter, has five league goals in 25 appearances, only 12 of which have come from the start though. Joo Minkyu's five goals have, however, been important for the Horangi. The former Sangju man scored the winner against Daegu in Round 34 and was on the scoresheet when the Horangi picked up a point in the 1-1 draw away to Jeonbuk. The 29 year-old, as well as 2019 MVP contender Kim Bokyung, will be relied upon to get Ulsan through this difficult fixture.

Former Goyang Zaicro forward Joo Minkyu will have to be watched carefully with Seoul hoping to avoid a repeat of what happened in Jeonju last week. Despite defending so valiantly, Kim Namchun was unable to clear the danger and the ball landed to Lee Donggook who rifled in the equaliser. Joo Minkyu has shown that he only needs one chance to convert, as per the aforementioned win over Daegu in Round 34.

FC Seoul rank sixth in terms of aerial duels made, seventh per 90 minutes, but are the second worst for success rate with 43.4%. Interestingly, Ulsan have the worst record with 42%. Crosses into the box might be something for both teams to aim for come Sunday.

Prediction

With a three-point lead Ulsan will head into this Sunday's match feeling confident but also with the most to lose. Seoul dug deep to get a well-earned point against Jeonbuk last time out and have it in them to do something similar again this Sunday, although perhaps a little more offensive. If Seoul can handle the movement of Kim Bokyung and  make the most of set pieces then they have a chance, especially if joint-top scorer Aleksandar Pešić is once again omitted from the match day squad. This fixture takes place a couple of hours before Jeonbuk take on Daegu and so, come full time could have a six or even eight point lead come full time. The last meeting at Sangam ended in a draw and, given the pressure on the two teams not to lose, another stalemate might be the most likely outcome.



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