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Preview: Gangwon FC vs Gwangju FC

Both suffering 4-2 defeats last weekend, Gangwon FC and Gwangju FC need to improve their defensive vulnerability if they are to push on. Does Kim Byung-soo need to implement a plan B to overcome a feisty Gwangju and is Lee Eu-ddeum K League 1's best set piece taker? Peter Hampshire previews Sunday's game in Gangneung.

Last Time Out

Gangwon FC 2-4 Busan IPark

Lee Gwang-yeon endured a busy afternoon at the hands of Lee Dong-jun and Kim Jin-kyu in particular. National team manager Paulo Bento watched on as Lee Jeong-hyeop gave Busan the lead on 10 minutes only for Cho Jae-wan to round off a superb team goal just five minutes later to equalise. Playing some superb flowing football, Gangwon looked the most likely heading into the break.

Cho Duk-jae altered his tactics to a counter-attacking style after attempting a high press in the first half. This meant youngster Lee Sang-jun was less vulnerable at right back and Lee Dong-jun was free to run riot on the right wing. After scoring twice in four minutes, he followed Han Kook-young's Gangwon goal by putting the ball on a plate for Kim Jin-kyu to seal the points.

Full match recap: Busan victorious in six-goal thriller

Gwangju FC 2-4 Daegu FC

Nine-man Gwangju fell to Lee Byung-geun's in-form Daegu side. Despite putting in a gritty performance, Park Jin-seop was left frustrated by red cards that saw Daegu's quality eventually take hold. After VAR consultation, Le Min-ki took an early bath for a late challenge on Kim Woo-seok. Full of spirit, having been benched for the Pohang defeat, Lee Eu-ddeum whipped in a near-post corner as Felipe lost his marker to head home and give the Yellows the lead at the break.

Gwangju spectacularly collapsed from the second half whistle as Kim Dae-won took the game by the scruff of the neck. Executing an incredible turn into the box, the 23-year-old national team hopeful fired past Lee Jin-hyung who should have done better. Dejan Damjanović then connected with great balls from Nishi Tsubasa and Kim to bag a brace and make it three goals in five minutes. Felipe remained calm in the box to make the comeback possible before Yeo Bong-hun dragged down Cesinha and saw red. Moments later, the Brazilian scored himself to put the game beyond doubt.

Previous Meetings

Unbeaten in their last seven against Gangwon, you are forced to trawl back to May 2014 to find Gwangju's last defeat in this fixture. Apart from a 5-0 loss in their first ever meeting back in 2011, the Yellows have enjoyed the better of past encounters, winning five and losing on three occasions.

The pair drew three times in 2017 in the top tier with Kim Jung-hyun netting in separate games for the Yellows. Han Kook-young grabbed his first goal for his club and is expected to line up for Gangwon this weekend. Earlier that year, Im Chan-wool cancelled out Olivier Bonnes only Gwangju goal ever. 2014 saw a couple of Gwangju wins on the north east coast by 1-0 and 4-2 scorelines. Current Incheon United forward Kim Ho-nam scored in both, on the same side as Kim Young-bin who moved from the Yellows to Gangwon this winter and will likely start at centre back.

After moving from Gwangju, Kim Young-bin has been a lynch pin for Gangwon.

Team News

Lee Min-ki and Yeo Bong-hun both picked up two-game suspensions for their Daegu dismissals, while Willyan serves the final game of his retrospective ban. Park Jin-seop opted for yet another goalkeeping change from Gwangju's last K League outing, with Lee Jin-hyung returning in net. Willyan's replacement Kim Jeong-hwan was sacrificed early last weekend having not made an impact so Kim Ju-gong will be pushing for a start. Kim Chang-soo will return at right back, while Park's selection dilemma comes in centre midfield. Does he opt for Lim Min-hyeok, impressive in the FA Cup win over Gimpo Citizen, or plump for a more defensive option in Choi Jun-hyeok?

Ko Moo-yeol and Lee Young-jae both returned to the starting line-up having been dropped to the bench for the defeat to Daegu. Youngster Seo Min-woo was one of those replaced, with fellow U22 player Lee Gwang-yeon returning between the sticks in place of Lee Bum-soo. Cho Ji-hun is available once more having been suspended last time out.

The Adversary

Gangwon did not play particularly badly in defeat to Busan but perhaps were guilty of being naive. Persisting with a possession-based style for 90 minutes undoubtedly makes you a predictable outfit. While at times they tore through Busan with grace befitting a higher level, their stubbornness allowed Cho Duk-jae to alter the Royals tactics and give Lee Dong-jun and Kim Jin-gyu far too much space on the break.

Gangwon's defence have conceded at least two goals in their last five K League outings, with all but two of these 13 goals coming in the second half. This suggests that dominating possession is not tiring out their opponents, moreover that teams have worked out how to soak up Gangwon pressure and take their chances. Kim's side completed nearly twice the amount of passes than Busan last time out, yet fired less shots on target. Just six percent of those passes have been long balls in their last two games, which shows that there is no plan B being executed. As a number nine, Kim Seung-dae is capable of taking down the odd long ball to mix play up and give defenders something else to think about.

What To Watch - Lee Eu-ddeum's wand

The 30-year-old's third season in K League 1 with Gwangju having joined the club in 2015, Lee Eu-ddeum's corners and free kick deliveries have caused real problems this season. The Yellows do not dominate games at this level, so Lee does not have the opportunity to whip in ball after ball to get his stats up, but has shown his undoubted quality from left back. With players as adept in the air as Felipe, Hong Joon-ho and Ashurmatov in the box, Lee knows that a ball into a good area is likely to lead to a goal scoring opportunity as it did for Felipe against Daegu last weekend. When rested for Lee Min-ki on occasion this season, Gwangju have lost balance with Min-ki forced to cut back onto his stronger right foot. While Yeo Reum is trusted for free kicks in range of goal, Lee Eu-ddeum's balls into the box are in my opinion only bettered by Son Jun-ho of Jeonbuk and Aleksandar Paločević of Pohang.


Prediction - Gangwon 2-1 Gwangju

Kim Byung-soo took a lot of praise early in the season for his side's pleasing on the eye football. However, it's no good playing pretty and sliding down the table. Kim will stick to his principles this weekend and edge out Gwangju. The pair meet again on Wednesday in the FA Cup. 

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