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Preview: Daegu FC vs Seongnam FC

With two games to play before the Split Round, Daegu FC play host to Seongnam FC this Wednesday evening in search of three points. Can the Sky Blues secure their top-six place with an overdue victory? Or will the Magpies throw a spanner in the Sky Blues' plan and keep their hope for top six alive 'til the next round? K League United's Daegu FC correspondent Muyeol Jung previews this clash in Round 21.

Last Time Out

Ulsan Hyundai 1-1 Daegu FC

Title contenders Ulsan Hyundai dropped points at home after they surprisingly drew 1-1 to Daegu FC. A much rotated Ulsan side opened fire with Go Myungjin's effort inside the box, closely saved by Gu Sungyun with his foot. A few minutes later, Dejan Damjanović threatened Ulsan's goal with a low strike at a tight angle before the Montenegrin had another golden opportunity incredibly denied by former Daegu shot stopper Jo Hyeonwoo.

Within a minute into the second half, the hosts went ahead, riding their luck when rookie Park Jungin's cross came off a defender and went in. After going 1-0 down, the Sky Blues went more fierce using a great combination of Cesinha and Damjanović before the Brazilian leveled things up from the spot for the Sky Blues. Later, the introduction of Edgar and Kim Daewon spurred the visitors on to look for a winner, but they couldn't find a way past Korean international Jo Hyeonwoo. 


Sangju Sangmu 0-0 Seongnam FC 

Heavily rotated Sangju Sangmu added a point to their tally in a goalless draw to Seongnam FC at home and remain in 3rd in the table. The game seesawed between the hosts and the visitors throughout the 90 minutes. Kim Hyunsung's understudy Tomislav Kiš was the spearhead for the Magpies, while the military side responded with two sharp mid-range shots from Jung Wonjin in the first half. The similar flow continued in the second half with the exchange of shots at both ends, however, none of these efforts were quite close to opening the scoring. In the end, the points were equally shared in a stalemate.


Previous Meetings

Historically, Daegu FC and Seongnam FC have clashed 39 times with the Sky Blues winning ten times and the Magpies winning 19 times, however, the Sky Blues have been undefeated in their last four league games since 2019 when the Magpies returned to the top flight.

This season Lee Byunggeun's side impressively pulled off their first season win by beating Seongnam on the road with two strong headers from Jeong Taewook and Edgar on set-pieces before they bowed out of Korean FA Cup after losing to Seongnam on penalties at home in mid-July.

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 return of young defender Jo Jinwoo from suspension. Attacking wise, 39-year-old Dejan Damjanović will continue to keep his place in the starting XI along with Cesinha. Accordingly, former Buriram United striker Edgar will likely make the bench again after he played 15 minutes as a substitute for Dejan Damjanović. Originally, the towering striker was said to remain out for 1-2 games with an injury according to the club's officials, but the current situation apparently forces caretaker Lee Byunggeun to use him as a substitute for a limited time.

Meanwhile, there's no news about diligent midfielder Kim Sunmin who dropped out of squad last time out, but it was a pleasing scene that former FC Slovan Liberec midfielder Park Hanbin was injected into a tiring midfield with a decent performance.

Seongnam FC
The Magpies will make a long trip to the South with the majority of their squad available including former Daegu FC striker Kim Hyunsung who returns from a suspension. In the last two league games, they have set up in a 3-3-3-1 formation with only one forced change, which was Croatian forward Tomislav Kiš for Kim Hyunsung.

Another piece of intriguing news recently came out that veteran midfielder Lim Sunyoung joined the first team's training after his relationship with the gaffer was mitigated through a heart to heart conversation. The midfielder was rumoured to be linked with a swap deal to Suwon Bluewings during the summer transfer window.

What To Watch

Can Daegu FC celebrate their 200th K League win at the seventh attempt?

Lee Byunggeun's side have now extended their winless streak to six, however, they appear to have turned things around with the confidence gained in a 1-1 draw to league leaders Ulsan.

Following some tactical glitches created by Cesinha's positioning and movements, discussed in my recent analytical column for K League United, caretaker Lee Byunggeun swiftly made tweaks by boldly playing Cesinha up front with the Montenegrin striker backed up by Japanese midfielder Nishi Tsubasa in a more attacking role, which ultimately reduced the vulnerability of the defence.

After a short loan spell with FC Slovan Liberec in the first half of 2020, Park Hanbin returned to Daegu this summer

It was also really pleasing to see some new faces such as Park Hanbin and Kim Jaewoo in the starting XI. Despite the fact that Park Hanbin was given a first appearance this season, the 1997-born midfielder showed a convincing display including winning a penalty kick which was converted by Cesinha as an equaliser.

On top of these positives, Daegu FC will look to break the chain of their winless streak as well as to secure a top six with a game to play. This would be successive seasons after last season's success. The win would also mark the citizen club's 200th K League win in their 18-year history.

Can the Magpies make the top six?

The Magpies, sitting 8th in the table, are two points clear of 6th-placed Seoul and they still can mathematically make the top six depending on the results of the remaining two games. Recently, manager Kim Nam-il succeeded in turning the tide with his lads set up in a 3-3-3-1 formation in their last two games by giant killing title contenders Jeonbuk Hyundai 2-0 before they drew to Sangju last time out.

Summer signing Na Sangho is a leading goal scorer in Seongnam with four goals

Their tactical focus mainly lies on the use of Na Sangho in a free role behind a classical striker, while their three strikers Kim Hyunsung (9 appearances), Yang Donghyun (three goals from 18 appearances), and Tomislav Kiš (two goals from 10 appearances) remain too quiet. This season, the Magpies have the second least goals scored out of 12 teams with only 17 goals from 20 games. With the most goals scored as tie-breaker, Seongnam's chances look realistically slim unless they win two games in a row.
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It is high time for Daegu FC to get back to winning ways. They have strong motivation to fight for, and their confidence back in the squad, which Seongnam would find challenging to handle. However, Seongnam's shot stopper Kim Youngkwang could be the biggest obstacle for the Sky Blues to overcome. I anticipate a narrow win for the hosts.

Daegu FC 2-1 Seongnam FC

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