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Preview: Daegu FC vs Gwangju FC

Fourth-placed Daegu FC return home this Sunday, looking to get back to winning ways against tenth-placed Gwangju FC. Meanwhile, the Yellows are hoping to add more to their tally in order not to be dragged into relegation battle. K League United's Daegu FC correspondent Muyeol Jung previews this clash in Round 18.

Last Time Out

Gangwon FC 0-0 Daegu FC

Gangwon and Daegu, both looking to take three points, had to split the points with few good chances created in a goalless draw at Gangneung Complex Stadium. The visitors could have been off to a great start in the early minutes of the first half, but Edgar's curling effort was palmed away by Lee Beomsoo. The Sky Blue's maintained possession throughout the rest of the first half, but didn't create any clear cut chances until a good pattern of play between Cesinha and Edgar was saved again before the break.

The second half saw a similar fashion to the first opening 45 minutes. The citizen club constantly pushed hard for the opener, but their efforts were not enough to test the Bears' defensive ability, while too much emphasis on attacking cost them a few times leaving them open to Gangwon's counterattack. Nevertheless, neither side were able to break the deadlock.


Gwangju FC 0-0 FC Seoul

Gwangju FC will rue the points they dropped in a home game to FC Seoul after a disappointing goalless draw. They could and should have won the game with ease, but their poor finishing and misfortune of hitting the woodwork twice cost them.

The Yellows completely dominated the entire game with 11 shots attempted in total, while the capital side miserably failed to hit the target with only two shots. Despite captain Yeo Reum being suspended, Lee Minhyuk and Park Jungsoo played a great role in connecting attack and defence, while attacking trio Willyan, Felipe, Eom Wonsang, alongside Doo Hyuseok looked very lively and dangerous up front. However, they couldn't find a way through Seoul's Yang Hanbin in the end and had to push back their chance to record a first win in the new stadium to their next home game.


Previous Meetings

The first meeting of this campaign between the two citizen sides was played at Gwangju World Cup Stadium in early July when the Sky Blues beat a 9-man Yellows 4-2. Seeing Lee Minki sent off in early minutes of the first half, surprisingly the hosts took the lead through a header from Felipe on a corner on 24 minutes. However, the introduction of Dejan at the break turned things around for the Sky Blues. Three second half goals within five minutes put the Sky Blues ahead at the drop of a hat. The first goal scorer Felipe gave the Yellows a lifeline with his second, but Cesinha killed off the game with a fourth of the night for Daegu right after the Yellows's defender Yeo Bonghoon received his marching orders.

In head to head records, both sides are perfectly sat in a balance with five wins each out of 15 meetings, but in their recent ten meetings, Daegu are ahead of Gwangju with five wins and two draws.

Meanwhile, Gwangju's visit to Daegu's new home, DGB Daegu Bank Park is going to be their maiden appearance to the ground following their return to the top flight ahead of this season. The last time Gwangju played away to Daegu was November 2017 when the Sky Blues remorselessly relegated the Yellows by beating them 2-0 at Daegu World Cup Stadium.

Team News

Daegu FC

With usual absentees like Hong Jungwoon (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) and Hwang Soonmin (fatigue fracture) out, the Sky Blues will welcome the Yellows to their new home for the first time without any other concerns. In the meantime, caretaker Lee Byunggeun tends to keep his best players to the starting XI in a 3-4-1-2 formation with little change and this tendency will likely continue for this game.

Gwangju FC

Gwangju manager Park Jinseop will travel to Daegu without their captain Yeo Reum who is serving the last game of his two-game ban. Also, former Daegu captain Han Heehoon is unlikely to travel due to a suspected injury. However, the recent appearance of Kim Hyoki and Doo Hyunseok will add more options to existing attacking combinations of Felipe, Willyan, and Eom Wonsang.

What To Watch

Can Daegu FC get over the curse of the ninth?

The Sky Blues fell to a mini-slump with two losses and a draw in their recent three games and the performances they have shown during the time were nowhere near around their usual standard.

It might sound a bit silly or superstitious, but they appear to be trapped in curse of the ninth, whatever the reasons are. It all started with Daegu's talisman Cesinha, who currently has recorded 49 goals and 39 assists in K League. The Brazilian was only one assist away from becoming the 20th K Leauge player who has achieved 40 goals and 40 assists at least and it looked like it's only a matter of time by then. However, since late July when he got a taste of goal last time, he hasn't add any of them to his name yet.

Can Cesinha salvage his beloved Daegu FC?

With the 2019 K League Best midfielder in the doldrums, Daegu's 200th K League win has been surprisingly delayed. In fact, the club fanatically advertised it ahead of a home game to Jeonbuk, which wasn't very realistic though, but no one would have ever doubted that they would mark the milestone in the next home game against bottom side Incheon.

However, it's not over yet. Despite the Daegu lads recently underperforming, there's still a big chance that they can come back and fight for a higher place in the table. With the league heading to the last five games before the split, this weekend Gwangju's visit is a thing they should seize before they will play Pohang away, Ulsan away, Seongnam at home and Seoul away in turn who are more difficult to play.

What are the realistic targets for Gwangju on their Daegu trip?

The Yellows, currently sitting 10th in the table, are three points clear of 11th-placed Suwon Bluewings and Incheon's win over Suwon Bluewings last weekend dramatically has re-ignited the spark of a diminishing relegation battle.

You might think the Yellows are looking safe superficially with only three points separating 6th-placed Seoul and 10th-placed Gwangju in the table where three points can take them up to a higher place. However, in reality they are on thin ice because they will play Ulsan away, Jeonbuk and Sangju at home and Seongnam away before the split.

Felipe is ranked fourth in the scoring charts with eight goals this season 

So then, what are their realistic targets for the Daegu trip? Losing will obviously be the last thing they want, but I don't think they would be entirely happy with a draw either looking back to how close the first meeting was even when 10-man Gwangju played before they went down to 9 men. Remember they took the lead and they fought hard and came close by 3-2. This season, Park Jinseop's side don't look very solid defensively, but the attacking trio Felipe, Willyan and Eom Wonsang look really dangerous heading into the mid-season. Particularly, Felipe is successfully settling in the top flight with eight goals scored already including two goals against Daegu this season. So I think they would seek three points this Sunday in an 11-a-side game.

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The game is going to be very physical and intense. Both sides usually like to play counterattack, however a stronger Daegu side will be controlling the game, while Gwangju will sit back and capitalise on chances on counterattacking or set-pieces. The game will also likely see a lot of aerial duels. On paper, Daegu FC should be the favourite, but the recent run doesn't bode well. It is most likely to end in a draw.

Daegu FC 1-1 Gwangju FC

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