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Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Daegu FC

Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Daegu FC

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors head into Round 3 of the K League 1 as one of two teams with a perfect start and with the hope of making it nine points from nine by overcoming Daegu FC this weekend. Despite also going unbeaten in the opening weeks, the Sky Blues are still looking for their first win this season and will know the task ahead of them this weekend at Jeonju World Stadium will be far from straightforward.

Last Time Out

Busan IPark 1-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors traveled to the south-eastern city of Busan last Saturday to face the newly-promoted Busan IPark, coming away with all three points in a hotly-contested encounter. With minimal team changes from their opener against Suwon, the first-half saw Jeonbuk lead proceedings, opening the scoring through a Hong Jeong-ho header on the quarter of an hour mark. Despite having better opportunities, the champions were unable to double their advantage in the opening half and found themselves on the back foot after the interval. Busan introduced their central midfielder Rômulo,  positively changing the attacking dynamic of the side and bringing the hosts back into the match. Not long after the hour mark, Busan winger and reigning K League 2 MVP Lee Dong-jun knocked the ball beyond Jeonbuk left-back Kim Jin-su and was brought down in the area. Rômulo stepped up and calmly slotted the ball away to level the score.

Substitute Kim Byung-oh should have given the hosts an unlikely lead but, when presented with the ball six yards from goal and unmarked, the attacking midfielder fired his shot high and wide. Busan were made to rue that missed opportunity when Jeonbuk striker Lars Veldwijk, making his K League debut from the bench, received Han Kyo-won's flick-on header in the penalty area, turned and slotted through the goalkeeper's legs with minutes to spare to give his new club a dramatic victory.

[Read: Busan IPark 1-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors match recap]



Daegu FC 1-1 Pohang Steelers

After a goalless draw in Round 1 against Incheon United, a largely unchanged Daegu FC team lined up against a Pohang Steelers side that had looked impressive in their opening match. Proceedings were mostly even, yet the away side were able to enter the break with a 1-0 lead thanks to Aleksandar Paločević. Debutant Brandon O'Neil won the ball in central midfield and played through Song Min-kyu down the left. Song then delivered the ball into the centre of the area for the Serbian striker to pounce and claim his second goal of the season.

After the interval, Daegu introduced Dejan Damjanović from the bench to increase their attacking options as they went in search of the equaliser. The Montenegrin came close to opening his account for his new side within minutes but saw his close-range effort go narrowly wide. In the end it was Brazilian forward Edgar Silva who brought things level, converting Kim Dae-won's cross with a header into the bottom-right corner of the goal. Worryingly, Daegu midfielder Tsubasa Nishi left the field of play on a stretcher with just over twenty minutes to spare. Having been out of the team for most of last season with injury, caretaker manager Lee Byung-keun saw it best to replace him though it seems it may only have been cramp. Both sides had opportunities to claim the three points, with Edgar striking the post with an effort from a difficult angle, but in the end a draw seemed a fair result.



Previous Meetings

Across the 40 occasions that these sides have met, Jeonbuk lead 23 to eight, with both sides drawing the remaining nine encounters. When these two played one another in the split last season, Jeonbuk won 2-0 in a solid showing away from home. The last time they met in Jeonju, however, Daegu ran out comprehensive 2-0 winners in a scoreline that flattered their hosts. Edgar Silva and Cesinha were on the scoresheet that day and they will once again be looking to make the difference on Sunday.

Team News

Having scored on his league debut from the bench, Lars Veldwijk is expected to make his first home start on Sunday, likely replacing Cho Kyu-sung in José Morais' preferred 4-1-4-1 formation. Seeing as Cho has been Jeonbuk's starting U22 player in these first two matches, it is likely that defensive midfielder Lee Soo-bin will get the nod to start for his new club so as his team can continue to meet the age requirements. Taking this into account, in addition to Takahiro Kunimoto's somewhat anonymous performance against Busan, Sunday will likely see Jeonbuk employ a central midfield pairing of Son Jun-ho and Kim Bo-kyung, with Murilo and Han Kyo-won possibly adorning the flanks. The defence is expected to remain unchanged.

Daegu FC are unlikely to make many changes from the side that drew with Pohang Steelers, employing their preferred 3-4-3 formation led by Cesinha, Edgar Silva and Kim Dae-won in attack. Due to the U22 quota, it seems probable that right-winger Hwang Tae-hyun will continue to get the nod over Jung Seung-won. Kim Sun-min could also return to the starting lineup in central midfield if Tsubasa Nishi's fitness is of concern to the manager.

The Adversary

Daegu FC have struggled to get going in their opening few rounds, perhaps showing the side effects of a mid-winter managerial switch and tougher pre-season due to lack of friendlies. Speaking ahead of last week, caretaker manager Lee Byung-keun did mention the difficulties they had in procuring friendlies due to the city being the epicentre of Korea's COVID-19 outbreak and this seems to perhaps this has contributed to their slow start.

It should also be said though that they did show signs of life against Pohang Steelers in the second half, particularly when Dejan Damjanović was added to proceedings. However, the team still look removed from the attacking side that finished fifth last season.

Captain Cesinha remains the player to watch, but it is by watching him that has coincided with the team's muted start. Incheon United defensive midfielder Rashid Mahazi earned plaudits for his man-marking of the Brazilian in Daegu's opener, contributing greatly to Incheon's clean sheet. Cesinha may find more luck against Jeonbuk, however, especially if they opt to play the young Lee Soo-bin in defensive midfield. While 20-year-old Lee did have a promising debut season at Pohang last year, making 28 appearances in total and earning a move to the champions, Cesinha has repeatedly proven himself as one of the trickier opponents to keep quiet in the division and could take advantage of the player's relative inexeperience.

Another area Daegu may find some joy is down the right, particularly if Kim Dae-won is given space to operate. Jeonbuk left-back Kim Jin-su notably struggled with Busan's Lee Dong-jun last weekend and Kim could certainly look to equally torment the experienced Korean international and create chances for the likes of Edgar Silva and Dejan.

[Listen: Rashid Mahazi Interview on covering Cesinha and more]

Who To Watch

Jeonbuk struggled for a large portion of the match against Busan, often static in attack with few players moving into space to create opportunities. This could simply be a by-product of a new midfield adjusting to life after Ricardo Lopes and Moon Seon-min yet there were a number of times last season also where Jeonbuk looked to have lost attacking inspiration, resorting simply to crosses from the full-backs and the hope of the striker winning the ball in the air. This somewhat monotonous style of play was a charge often unfairly levelled at former manager Choi Kang-hee, yet it seems to have been embraced more by current incumbent José Morais. All three of Jeonbuk's goals this season have directly involved a header (two scored and one assisted) and it seems unlikely this will change by the weekend.

With that in mind, the introduction of Lars Veldwijk seemed to revitalise the side. Veldwijk not only made the most of his height to take advantage of the crosses but his energy and movement helped to find a way through Busan's resolve. The South African international's finish last weekend also demonstrated his control and striking prowess, which should make him a danger to any defence if he can find possession in the penalty area. Jeonbuk do need to move away from such predictable crossing play and fully harness the attacking talent of their midfield but, until then, Veldwijk will be a key figure in both converting the team's reliance on crosses and also bringing others into play.

FNR

Prediction

Jeonbuk have been confirming the cliché of champions being always able to find the results required, relying on their greater pool of talent to drag them through these last two rounds. With Daegu still not quite at their attacking best, this could also ring true once more. However, Busan showed that this weekend's hosts are far from invulnerable and, if the likes of Kim Dae-won and Cesinha are given time and space, then it would not be surprising if this encounter is yet another closely-contested affair.

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