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Preview: FC Seoul vs Pohang Steelers

Preview: FC Seoul vs Pohang Steelers
Looking to build on the FA Cup shootout win over Daejeon, FC Seoul welcome Pohang Steelers to Sangam this Saturday night in Round 12 of the 2020 Hana 1Q K League 1 season. Seoul sit tenth in the table but a win could propel them up to eighth  and help get the season back on track. Meanwhile, the Steelers sit fourth and just a point behind third-placed Sangju Sangmu.

Overview

via Soccerway

Last Time Out

FA Cup: Daejeon Hana Citizen 1-1 FC Seoul AET (2-4 on pens.)

FC Seoul booked their place in the quarter finals of the FA Cup after overcoming K League 2 promotion favourites Daejeon Hana Citizen on penalties. Seoul didn't get off to the best of starts with Bruno Baio firing in a free-kick from the edge of the area to give the Purples an early lead. A Park Chu-young missed penalty perhaps made Choi Yong-soo's side feel as though their chance of an equaliser wouldn't come. However, Park would soon atone for his penalty miss by nodding in Ko Kwang-min's deep cross to send the game into extra time.A red card to Kim Nam-chun meant that Seoul had to play the 30 additional minutes but were able to hold on for a penalty shootout, emerging victorious 4-2.

FA Cup: Sangju Sangmu 2-3 Pohang Steelers AET

A dramatic late Stanislav Iljutcenko winner ensured that Pohang are hat for the FA Cup quarter final draw, beeating North Gyeongsang neighbours Sangmu after extra time. Iljutcenko opened the scoring on 17 minutes only for Jeong Jae-hee to level just past the half-hour mark. Sangju then took the lead via a Heo Young-jun penalty on 59 minutes before a Choi Young-jun strike restored parity. The game seemed destined for penalties but in the dying embers, Iljutcenko sealed his brace and the win for the Steelers.

Previous Meetings

In the previous meeting this term in May Seoul emerged as 2-1 winners at the Steelyard thanks to goals from Hwang Hyun-soo and Osmar. A defensive mix-up between centre back Kim Nam-chun and goalkeeper Yu Sang-hun allowed Iljutcenko to score what will have been the easiest goal of the German's career thus far but two headers from corners, the first by Hwang Hyun-soo on 35 minutes, the second by Osmar on 73, turned the game on its head and sealed the points for Choi Yong-soo's men.

From the four meetings last year, Seoul picked up just one win, lost twice and drew 0-0 at the Steel Yard in May. Overall, from 149 meetings, Pohang have 55 wins to Seoul's 54 and 40 draws.

Team News

The hosts will be without attacking midfielder Aleksandar Paločević. The Serbian picked up a knock in the Round 7 defeat to Jeonbuk and has been sidelined ever since. Centre back Ha Chang-rae is one yellow away from serving a one-match ban. Full back Kim Sang-won had suffered from a hamstring problem after making his return in the FA Cup win over Sangju in midweek. Fellow defender Oh Beom-seok picked up a groin injury in the win over Gwangju and is back in light training but not expected to feature on Saturday.

Pohang starting lineup vs Sangju Sangmu, FA Cup 4th Round.
Seoul will have a relatively full squad available. The suspension resulting from Kim Nam-chun's red card against Daejeon will be effective for the next round of the cup and so is available for selection on Saturday. Question remarks remain over the fitness of Adriano who has started just three games this term. Cho Young-wook's impressive displays of late should be enough for the U20 World Cup finalist to keep his place.

FC Seoul starting lineup vs Daejeon Hana Citizen, FA Cup 4th Round.


The Adversary


Pohang are already establishing themselves as genuine AFC Champions League contenders. The Steelers are the second-top scorers in the league with 22, and with 13 goals conceded have the third-best goal difference. Leading the goal scoring charts for the Steelers is German centre forward Stanislav Iljutcenko who has seven in the league, nine in all competitions thus far. The 29-year-old Russian-born striker joined a year ago and helped mount a mid-season Steelers revival under Kim Ki-dong. Iljutcenko bagged nine in 18 starts last year and looks set to head well into double figures by the time the season is finished. Iljutcenko is one of seven players who have started all 11 K League 1 matches this term, including winger Song Min-kyu who is having something of a breakout year. Song has five goals and two assists already and has cemented himself as Kim Ki-dong's go-to U22 player.

Kim Ki-dong has been faithful to his 4-2-3-1 formation with skipper Choi Young-jun and either Brandon O'Neill or Lee Seumg-mo as his defensive midfield partner whilst new recruit Nam Jun-jae or Sim Dong-woon filling in for the injured Palocevic in that attacking midfield role. Pohang like to get the ball forward quickly and use the likes of Song Min-kyu and Palacios to feed crosses into Iljutcenko and utilise his aerial prowess. In terms of crossing success rate, Pohang have outperformed all of their K League 1 opponents so far this term with 37.1%. Pohang also have the third-best shooting accuracy in the division with 37.4% and second for key passes.

Eulji Lewis

What To Watch

Osmar (centre) celebrates scoring Seoul's winner from a set piece in the Round 3 meeting.
Pohang have been prone to concede goals from set pieces this term. Both of Seoul's goals at the Steel Yard came from corners and Jeonbuk's late winner in Round 7 came as the result of lax marking from a corner. Seoul scored 10 goals from corners in 2019, the most in K League 1, so with the likes of Osmar and Kim Nam-chun's physical presence, set pieces may be the best option for Choi Yongsoo's side. Whether Pohang have learned their lesson also remains to be seen and will be something to keep an eye on come Saturday.

Prediction

Both teams went into extra time in midweek and so may be feeling fatigued heading into the latter stages of the game. Set pieces might be where the game is decided and so it will be down to which team can defend the best. Seoul will be buoyed by the comeback win over Daejeon when it looked as though the Purples were set to further pile the misery on Choi Yong-soo's men. The win could help kick start their season and give the capital club real hope of silverware in 2020. Expect goals from set pieces but a draw is perhaps the most likely outcome.

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