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Preview: Seongnam FC vs Incheon United

The splits are now finalized, and the race to avoid demotion begins in Split B. Seongnam FC, the team that have been on a roller coaster ride throughout the season, failed to secure their place on Split A and now have to face the bottom team Incheon United at home. The Magpies are only four points ahead of the United, and the result is very difficult to predict. Will Seongnam record a victory and eliminate the possibility of getting demoted? Or, are Incheon going to continue their good form by winning against the Magpies?

Last Time Out

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 1-0 Seongnam FC

Two teams clashed at Jeonbuk's home for the FA Cup Semi-final fixture. The Green Warriors brought a 3-5-2 formation with having most of the Best XI players on the pitch. Meanwhile, the Magpies used a 5-4-1 formation with most of the Best XI players off the pitch, including Yeon Je-woon not even sitting on the bench, which implies that Seongnam are concentrating more on the league.

The goal was scored in the early game by Jeonbuk. In the ninth minute, Modou Barrow made a run no the left side of the field and gave a penetrating pass to Gustavo Henrique da Silva Sousa making it a one-on-one chance, and Gustavo carefully put the ball into the goal. The game's flow was pretty much the same after the first goal, as Seongnam's defenders kept showing vulnerability to Gustavo just like they did to Junior of Ulsan Hyundai. Jeon Jong-hyuk's anxious goalkeeping was another weakness of the away team. Without many chances made by either team, the match ended 1-0, and Jeonbuk successfully proceeded to the Final of the Cup.

Incheon United 0-1 Ulsan Hyundai

Incheon, after their victory against FC Seoul, focused on continuing their hot form by achieving points from the match against Ulsan at home. Incheon brought a 3-4-3 formation with a heavy concentration on firm defense, and Ulsan used a 4-2-3-1 formation that they have been using frequently.

Despite the predictions that Ulsan will dominate over Incheon, the game was pretty tight with the home team trying seven shots and the away team trying eight. However, the delicacy of the attack was the deciding factor. In the 25th minute, Junior Negrao scored a fantastic goal that involved his outstanding physical abilities, and the defenders of Incheon could not do anything about it. Even after the goal concession, the United kept trying the attacks and made some good scenes, but they failed to go over the Tigers' defenders and Jo Hyeon-woo, which led to the match ending 1-0 for Ulsan.

Previous Meetings

Sangju and Seongnam have faced each other 45 times in K League, with Seongnam winning 17 matches and losing 8.

The last match they faced each other in was the K League 1 fixture that took place on August 9th, 2020, at Incheon's home. Incheon, the only team in K League 1 that still did not have a single win, clashed with Seongnam at home. It was the first match Cho Sung-hwan, the new manager of Incheon, was leading. United started the match with a 4-2-3-1 formation that they have used frequently this season, with Stefan Mugoša as the center forward. The Magpies brought a 3-2-4-1 formation again with the Best XI of the team on the pitch. 

Both teams began the match with very offensive tactics. Incheon took eight shots in the first half while Seongnam tried five, and they were mostly made outside the penalty box. To utilize the humid air and wet pitch, the forwards actively targeted striking ranged shots in order to make the bounds harder to be expected. The second half was the 45 minutes solely for Na Sang-ho of the away team. Na, who had not been able to score or assist a goal after joining Seongnam in June, scored two goals in the second half in the 57th minute and 87th minute, one from a free-kick and one from an open play.

Team News

Seongnam will not have an issue with calling upon anyone that played against Jeonbuk in the FA Cup Semi-final, and Incheon are also okay to call upon anyone that were on the pitch in the match against Ulsan.
Kim Nam-il chose to have most of the Best XI members off the pitch in the game against Jeonbuk, which was a cold but realistic decision with a big concentration on winning this game against Incheon. Na Sang-ho, the most important player on the Magpies' squad right not without a doubt, was off the pitch as well and is expected to be 100% ready to show great performance against the United.
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

Na Sang-ho
Loaning in Na Sang-ho from FC Tokyo is probably the best move made by Seongnam this season. Although Na joined the team in late June, he quickly started to prove what it takes to be a regular member of the South Korea National Team. The 24-year-old forward has scored five goals for the Magpies in the league, which is the best record in the team, and he has the best record in the shot on target as well.

Despite the fact that Kim Nam-il used a five-back formation in the last match against Jeonbuk, and it is expected that Kim would return to using the 3-2-4-1 formation with a big emphasis on attack progression on the sides since Seongnam will be wanting to score goals against the United. Although Incheon are at the very bottom of the league table, their defense isn't too bad as they are placed 7th in goal concession among all K League 1 teams. Considering that the Magpies are the second-worst team in goal scoring (19 goals), it will be difficult to crush the away team's defense, and that's why I chose Na Sang-ho, the crack player of the Gyeonggi-based team, as the player to watch. 

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Seongnam FC 1-0 Incheon United

If I have to choose the team that seem to be more desperate, I think it would be Incheon as they are at the bottom of the table and have three points behind Busan, the 11th place team. However, the determination does not always bring the result, and I don't think the United will be capable of breaking the Magpies concrete defense and bring the victory home.ho

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