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Preview: Gangwon FC vs FC Seoul

Preview: Gangwon FC vs FC Seoul
Two teams tipped to make strides in 2020 are Gangwon FC and FC Seoul, the pair meet at Chuncheon Songam Sports Town this Sunday for Round 1 of the new K League campaign. The hosts, Gangwon, recorded their best-ever finish last season by securing 6th place, Seoul meanwhile earned an AFC Champions League berth for the first time in three years. Paul Neat previews Sunday's intriguing clash.


via Soccerway

Last Time Out

Gangwon FC 4-1 Bucheon FC 1995 (pre-season friendly)

In a pre-season friendly at home, Gangwon FC ran out comfortable winners over K League 2 promotion hopefuls Bucheon FC 1995. Ko Mu-yeol bagged a brace with Lee Hyun-sik and Lee Young-jae also on the scoresheet for Kim Byung-soo's men. The match capped off what has been a busy pre-season which began with a warm weather training camp in Chonburi, Thailand throughout most of January. The team then returned to Korea and the south coast, spending most of February on the South Gyeongsang Province island of Goeje and neighbouring town of Tongyeong.

FC Seoul 1-0 Melbourne Victory (AFC Champions League)

FC Seoul have actually taken to the field for competitive matches already this season having faced Kedah FA and Melbourne Victory in the AFC Champions League. A Park Chu-young strike in the 7th minute was enough for Seoul to get their group stage campaign up and running back in February, giving Choi Yong-soo's side a 1-0 win over A-League outfit Melbourne Victory.


Previous Meetings

FC Seoul fans will not want reminding of the last meeting between these two sides. In late October last year, with FC Seoul faltering despite being on the brink of AFC Champions League qualification, Choi Yong-soo's side fell to a 3-2 defeat despite taking the lead not once, but twice. Young striker Lee In-gyu broke the deadlock on 20 minutes to give Seoul the lead before Lee Hyun-sik levelled seven minutes after the restart. But, heading into the last five minutes, Park Chu-young restored Seoul's lead with what looked to be enough to seal the points for the capital club. However, a late fight back from Gangwon with goals from Lee Young-jae and another from Lee Hyun-sik sealed a 3-2 win.

The two sides met five times in all competitions last year, four in the league and once in the FA Cup. The first, in Chuncheon, resulted in a 2-1 Seoul win but just three days later, Gangwon dumped Seoul out of the FA Cup with a 3-2 victory. The next two matches ended in stalemates, a 2-2 and 0-0 both in the capital.

Overall, there have been 23 meetings between Gangwon FC and FC Seoul. The capital club have 12 wins to Gangwon's six and five draws. In Gangwon Province, Seoul have seven wins to Gangwon FC's three.

Team News

Gangwon FC manager Kim Byung-soo will be expected to hand debuts to some of his new recruits such as Kim Sueng-dae, Shin Se-gye, Ko Mu-yeol, Lim Chae-min, Kim Young-bin, and Lee Bum-soo, all of whom featured in the friendly win over Bucheon FC 1995 at the back end of April.

FC Seoul began their season at the tail-end of January with the AFC Champions League qualification match against Kedah. Ahead of the 4-1 win, Seoul were without a few notable first team players such as captain Go Yo-han, young forward Cho Young-wook, centre back Kim Won-gyun, and defensive midfielder Jung Hyeon-cheol, as well as wing-back duo Kim Jin-ya and Yoon Jong-gyu being involved with the Korea U23 squad. However, the time which has elapsed since has allowed the aforementioned to return to fitness, as has Han Chan-hee who picked up a knock after coming on as a substitute in the game against Kedah.

Last season, FC Seoul's starting lineup did pick itself at times but, with the additions of Han Seung-gyu, Han Chan-hee, Kim Jin-ya, and Adriano, manager Choi Yong-soo has much to ponder ahead of the trip to Gangwon this Sunday. The work rate of Park Dong-jin may be enough for the former defender to be given the nod to to partner Park Chu-young in attack but Coach Choi will have Serbian striker Aleksandar Pešić on the bench as an insurance policy.

Eulji Lewis

The Adversary

Gangwon FC

There has been an air of mystery surrounding Gangwon FC's pre-season preparations, cloak and dagger almost. Whereas most other K League clubs have been providing pre-season updates to supporters via their official social media channels, Gangwon FC have been keeping their cards close to their chest. Gangwon's brand of possession-based football helped create the phrase 'Byung-soo Ball' last term, referring to the preferred style of manager Kim Byung-soo which focused on recycling possession and passing teams to death.

Over the winter, Coach Kim has brought in some players with whom he has worked before such as, Seongnam FC defender Lim Chae-min on a free transfer, Kim Seung-dae on loan from Jeonbuk, as well as Lee Byung-wook and Seo Min-woo from Seoul E-Land. All of these players worked with Kim Byung-soo before whilst with Yeungnam University during the 49-year-old's successful eight-year stint.

Tactically, Kim Byung-soo set his team up in a 5-4-1 for 28% of matches in 2019, and a 3-4-3 in 16% of matches but at home, Kim preferred the 5-4-1. Han Kook-young will be key to keep Gangwon ticking over, no player in K League completed more passes than Han in 2019 with 2703, and 66.25 per 90 minutes. In terms of key passes, new recruit Kim Seung-dae ranked fifth in K League 1 last year with 20 and is likely to make his debut this Sunday.

What To Watch

Kim Byung-soo vs Choi Yong-soo

The possession-based style of Gangwon gaffer Kim Byung-soo going up against Choi Yong-soo's counter-attacking approach will be something to keep an eye on. Wily manager Choi, known for being something of a tactician, hinted at a change in style when speaking to the press during pre-season. Seou's Spanish defensive midfielder, Osmar, said something similar and so there could be a shift in how FC Seoul approach this season. The K League and FA Cup winning manager was out-smarted by Kim Byung-soo not once but twice last season and so he may have a trick up his sleeve ahead of the trip to Chuncheon. Both squads are quite deep after productive transfer windows so it will also be telling to see which players both managers see as first choice. Seoul, for example, have an embarrassment of riches in midfield and in the wing-back areas, not to mention five or six strikers who could stake their claim for a place in the starting lineup.


With 60% possession last year for Gangwon compared to Seoul's 46%, this may be a match where Seoul look to pick Gangwon off on the counter. Choi Yong-soo hinting at a change in style may just be a double bluff but with two distinct footballing philosophies going head to head, and with two teams lead by shrewd and tactically astute managers, Sunday's match is certainly going to be an intriguing one. There is the potential that they could cancel each other out and the game end in a stalemate, however.

Where To Watch


Germany, Austria, Switzerland - Sport Digital, 9:25am Central European Summer Time
Australia - Optus Sport, 5:30pm Australian Eastern Standard Time
Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia - Arena Sport, 9:30am Central European Summer Time
Malaysia - Stadium Astro, 3:25pm GMT+8



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