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Preview: Gwangju FC vs Daegu FC

Gwangju will attempt to halt the Daegu juggernaut on Sunday with Lee Byung-geun's side visiting on Sunday in K League 1. Both sides progressed in the FA Cup in midweek but while Gwangju fielded a second string to be as fresh as possible, Daegu played key men. 

Last Time Out

Gwangju FC 2-2 Gimpo Citizen (AET: 5-4 on pens)

Edging out a feisty Gimpo side on penalties, the Yellows endured a frustrating night before eventually setting up a fourth round tie with Gangwon FC. Lim Min-hyeok opened the scoring with a scrappy first-half goal, before a late equaliser from former Jeonbuk Hyundai and Daejeon Hana Citizen striker Kim Dong-chan sent the game to extra time. Choi Jun-hyeok struck what appeared to be a fierce winner in the 100th minute only for stubborn Gimpo to draw things level through another recognisable name Lee Ki-je with just two minutes remaining. Yoon Pyeong-gook was the hero of the spot kicks making a fine save to his left to seal a 5-4 win for Gwangju.

FC Anyang 0-2 Daegu FC

Daegu regulars Kim Dae-won, Jeong Tae-wook and new goalkeeper Gu Sung-yun all started against Anyang showing manager Lee's respect to K League 2 opposition. Dejan Damjanović was afforded a chance to shine from the off while Cesinha dropped to the bench. Deflected by Maeng Seong-woong, Kim Dae-won opened the scoring on the half hour. Anyang looked to have equalised before the break but the referee deemed it not to have crossed the line. With the home side looking a threat, Kim grabbed his brace on 62 minutes to seal the win, cutting inside and curling home. Daegu will play Seongnam FC in Round Four.

Han Hee-hoon spent three years at Daegu but could line up against his former employers.

Previous Meetings

Daegu are unbeaten against the Yellows in their last three encounters with Júnior Negrao scoring in two wins towards the end of the 2017 campaign. Prior to that it was Gwangju who had the better of results with an unbeaten stretch of five games. Kim Min-hyeok rescued a point for a side then managed by Nam Ki-il after Jo Seong-joon had wrapped up the points in a 1-0 win earlier that season. The pair met on numerous occasions as far back as 2011 with Gwangju edging the results historically, winning five times compared to Daegu's four. 

Team News

Park Jin-seop made nine changes for the visit of Gimpo with only Yoon Pyeong-gook and Choi Jun-hyeok keeping their place. Winter signing Kim Hyo-gi joined highly-fancied youngster Heo Yool up front in a change to a 4-4-2 formation. Lim Min-hyeok featured as the stand out player in midfield and will hope to get more minutes as Gwangju likely revert to a three-man midfield in a 4-3-2-1 formation. One influential player missing will be winger Willyan who starts a two-match suspension following a disciplinary meeting. Others such as Felipe, Eom Won-sang and Yeo Reum are all expected to face Daegu, with Park's main selection headache coming at left back, forced to choose between Lee Eu-ddeum and Lee Min-ki.

The Adversary

K League's most creative midfielder, Cesinha will be fresh having played just 10 minutes on Wednesday. Ranked second in the league for key passes and shots on target, first for free kicks and third for dribbles and most fouled players. His threat is undeniable. Caretaker boss Lee Byung-geun has surely done himself no harm if he has ambitions for the managers role on a full-time basis, winning five in his last six at the community club and overseeing 17 goals in the process. Their ACL chances weren't backed by many pundits pre-season but Daegu sit fourth and possess a blend of experience further bolstered by the arrival of Gu Sung-yun from the J League. One area lacking in experience is the back three, presumably one reason why Lee has opted to use wing backs as cover this season. Jeong Tae-wook headlines a back three with an average age of 22 that at times show their naivety. Centre back Jo Jin-woo stands out as a rarity in the K League, with many U22 players fielded out wide and not trusted to complete 90 minutes.

Cesinha celebrating his goal against Gangwon

What To Watch - Back Line Tinkering

Gwangju's defeat to Pohang saw them change two of the back four and the goalkeeper prior to defeat. Park Jin-seop's rotation policy is understandable in weeks such as this which has included three home games in nine days. However, Park must respect the higher division and that he may not be able to get away with this strategy as much as he did in the second tier. A settled defence is key in relegation battles and should Incheon United pick up in form the Yellows could be dragged into one. Alternating between Lee Jin-hyung and Yoon Pyeong-gook too often this season, neither of them have formed solid partnerships and understanding with the defence. One man who seems a mainstay is Rustam Ashurmatov, who has made the second most blocks in K League 1 this season. He's joined in that top 10 by Hong Joon-ho but the 26-year-old was dropped for Lee Han-do against Pohang and none of this trio started against Gimpo.

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Prediction - Gwangju FC 1-2 Daegu FC

Gwangju will put up plenty of fight and have shown they are capable with mixing it with better teams than Daegu this season. However, I feel that Cesinha's quality will be too much for the Yellows midfield to cope with and they are yet to face a number 10 of his ilk this season. Considering Daegu's incredible K League form they are also in confident mood against a Gwangju side who feel less urgency to win due to Incheon's poor form, reducing the immediate threat of relegation. 

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