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Preview: Sangju Sangmu vs Seongnam FC

There are only three matches left before the Split phase and Sangju Sangmu invites Seongnam FC home for K League 1 Round 20 fixture. The team that are more in a hurry are Seongnam as they are placed eighth currently and are desperate to join the top division of the league, while the third-place-team Sangju have quite a concrete place in the top division. Will the Magpies continue their good form after the victory over Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and continue their race to the top division? Or, will the Soldiers prove themselves again?

Last Time Out

Sangju Sangmu 1-0 Suwon Samsung Bluewings

The third-place team Sangju clashed with the eleventh-place team Suwon at home for the K League Round 19 fixture. Sangju brought a 4-1-4-1 formation with Moon Seon-min as the center forward, and the Bluewings used a 3-5-2 formation.

Despite the recent form in the league, the away team had dominance in all areas of the field in the first half. The shot by Kim Tae-hwan that hit the post represents the good form of Suwon in the first half. However, by a small margin, the Bluewings could not score a goal as they kept hitting the post and losing the accuracy at the end and this trend continued in the second half as well. The Soldiers did not miss this opportunity to flip the match over, and their counterattacks finally made a result as Lee Sang-gi scored a goal in the 67th minute. After conceding a goal, Suwon's players seemed to have lost the energy to keep trying shots, and the match ended 1-0 for Sangju.

Seongnam FC 2-0 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Seongnam, who were recording no victory in the last three league matches, faced Jeonbuk at home for the league fixture. It was a huge burden on the Magpies' shoulders to clash with one of the strongest teams in the league at this point, as even one point on the league table was desperately needed for Seongnam to get to the top division. Seongnam brought a 3-3-3-1 formation that focused heavily on attack progression on the right side, and Jeonbuk used a 4-1-4-1 formation again with Lee Ju-yong replacing Kim Jin-su after his departure to Al-Nassr.

The game was very different from what many fans expected. Seongnam's tough defense protected the goal from Jeonbuk successfully, and the away team tried only three shots in the first half. While defending perfectly, the home team even scored a goal by Yu In-soo in the 29th minute thanks to Park Soo-il's great shot that led to Yu's goal. Jeonbuk played more offensively in the second half, but the Magpies effectively used the spaces in the away team and this led to another goal in the 51st minute with Yu In-soo's assist and Park Tae-jun's goal. Jeonbuk failed to make any more definitive chance, and the game ended 2-0 for Seongnam.

Previous Meetings

Sangju and Seongnam have faced each other 18 times in K League, with Seongnam winning 8 matches and losing 4.

The last match they faced each other in was the K League 1 Round 8 fixture that took place on June 20th, 2020, Seongnam clashing with Sangju at home. The Magpies were going through three-loss-streak and were desperate to end the chain of losses in this game as Sangju's performance back then was not on the top like Ulsan and Jeonbuk. However, it turns out that the Gyeonggi-based team were not ready to defend against a tall striker like Oh Se-hun, and they later conceded a goal to Moon Chang-jin in the 90th minute. The game ended 1-0, and this loss was more painful for Seongnam as the losing streak became four matches long.

Team News

Kim Hyun-sung of Seongnam received two yellow cards in the last league match against Jeonbuk, and will not be able to play in this game. Sangju will not have an issue with calling upon anyone that played against Suwon last weekend.
Due to COVID-19 Pandemic, K League shortened the length of the season from 38 rounds to 27 rounds, with 22 rounds as the regular season and the last five rounds as the split phase. After the next three rounds, the top six teams will be in Split A and competing for the league title, and the bottom six teams will be in Split B and fighting to survive in the league.
Because of the recent COVID-19 outbreak in multiple cities, the South Korean government prohibited the entry of fans again in late August in order to slow down the spread of the virus, and the re-entry does not seem to happen soon as the circumstances regarding COVID-19 isn't improving.

Who To Watch

Yu In-soo
Anyone that's been following Seongnam's plays this season must have been both surprised and not surprised by Yu In-soo's performance in the last league match against Jeonbuk, surprised because he has scored a goal and an assist, but not very surprised at the same time because he has been showing great form throughout the whole season. Especially as soon as Kim Nam-il changed his go-to-formation to a 3-2-4-1, Yu In-soo showed excellent link-up plays with the forwards and often crushed the left side of the field for his team. Not only his speed is a lethal weapon, but his passing abilities, dribbling, and shooting are very impressive as well.

Kim Nam-il used a 3-3-3-1 formation in the last match against Jeonbuk, and there is a high probability that he might use it again. Kim's 3-3-3-1 seemed to be putting more concentration on the right side of the field as he placed two wing backs: Lee Tae-hee and Park Soo-il, Yu is the only wing back on the left side of the field. Against the fast-paced attackers of Sangju, Yu's performance will be extremely important to the away team, and that's why I chose him as the player to watch.

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Prediction

Seongnam FC 2-1 Sangju Sangmu

Although Sangju were able to win against Suwon last weekend, it was still observable that the Soldiers' defense was not very great against the concrete pass plays in their defensive third. Seongnam's well-made link up plays on various parts of the field, and the wing backs' fast-paced attack progression will be a bit much for Sangju to defend against. Also, the Magpies are much more desperate than Sangju for the win, which can definitely affect the result.

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