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ACL Preview: FC Seoul vs Beijing Guoan

In the centralised AFC Champions League Group Stages in Doha, Qatar, FC Seoul get their continental campaign back up and running against Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan. It has been a disappointing season domestically for Seoul, but the capital club, led by new caretaker manager Lee Won-jun, will be looking to end 2020 in a positive manner.

Overview

Last Time Out

FC Seoul 0-1 Incheon United (K League 1)

In what was the last match under a second caretaker manager of the season, Park Hyuk-soon, FC Seoul fell to a final day Gyeongin Derby defeat, losing 1-0 to Incheon United. Costa Rican attacking midfielder, Elias Aguilar, steered the ball in from an acute angle with 32 minutes on the clock with a goal which proved to be enough to seal safety for Jo Sung-hwan's Blue Black.

Match Report: here

Highlights



Beijing Guoan 1-1 Shanghai SIPG (Chinese Super League)

In the Chinese Super League third/fourth place playoff match second leg Beijing Guoan picked up a 1-1 draw to win 3-2 on aggregate overall. Alan gave Beijing a 31st minute lead before former Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors forward Ricardo Lopes made it 1-1 two minutes into the second half. 


Highlights



Previous Meetings

There have been four previous encounters between FC Seoul and Beijing Guoan, the most recent coming in 2014 when what was then Choi Yong-soo's side ran out 2-1 winners. Kang Seung-jo and Yun Ju-tae were on target for Seoul, Yu Yang for Beijing in the 88th minute. Aside from Yun Ju-tae, Osmar is the only other player still with the club to have featured in the last meeting with Beijing. 




The return fixture in the Chinese capital ended 1-1, Nigerian forward Utaka for the hosts with Go Yo-han levelled on 72 minutes. Seoul and Beijing met the year before too with the then K League champions winning 3-1 at home thanks to goals from Adi, Yun Il-lok and Koh Myong-jin. The first ever meeting between Seoul and Beijing was on 14th May 2013 which ended in a 0-0 draw. FC Seoul have come up against teams from the Chinese Super League on 20 occasions picking up seven wins, nine draws and losing four.

FIFA 21 Preview


Team News

FC Seoul

FC Seoul will be without Ikromjon Alibaev due to a groin injury which has plagued the Uzbekistan international's 2020 campaign. Go Yo-han and Ki Sung-yeung have also not travelled with the squad due to injury, neither has Brazilian striker Adriano. Meanwhile, Ju Se-jong and Yoon Jong-gyu, who were both involved in the Korean National Team friendlies, have returned to Korea as a safety precaution and will not be joining up with the rest of the squad in Qatar. However, central defender Kim Won-kyun is likely to be in the matchday squad after recovering from a long term injury. Kim hasn't featured in the FC Seoul first team since May 2019.

FC Seoul starting XI vs Incheon United, K League 1 R27.


Beijing Guoan

Beijing are set to be without their top scorer Cédric Bakambu as the Congo DR striker has headed back to his home country for international duty. Reports in the Chinese press (via Goal.com) also suggest that Kim Min-jae is a doubt through an unspecified injury. Augusto is also said to have a minor knock while Jonathan Viera and Nico Yennaris (Li Ke) are deemed to be more serious.

Beijing Guoan starting XI vs Guangzhou Evergrande, CSL playoff


The Adversary

Embed from Getty Images

The Chinese Super League took a different approach in 2020, dividing the 16 teams into two groups of eight based on region. Beijing Guoan finished second in Group B and so qualified for the Championship Round. Led by Bruno Génésio, Beijing made it to the semi finals before losing to eventual runners up Guangzhou Evergrande 3-1 over two legs. A third/fourth place playoff win over Shanghai SIPG earned Beijing third place and a place in ACL 2021.

Beijing Guoan were the top scorers in both Group B and overall from the regular season, scoring 36 - 10 more than Shanghai SIPG who topped their group and five more than Group A winners Guangzhou Evergrande. Congo DR striker Cédric Bakambu was the club's top scorer with 14 and six assists, followed by 23-year-old Chinese international Zhang Yuning who bagged six. 

Throughout the tournament as whole, Beijing were top scorers with 43, had the second most number of shots, the most per 90 minutes, and the best accuracy with 42% of all attempts on goal finding the target. 

Formation wise, Beijing tended to be set up in a 4-3-1-2 with Renato Augusto in the number 10 role behind two strikers. Kim Min-jae has sat in the heart of Beijing's back four along side Yu Yang.

Eulji Lewis  

What To Watch

Where the goals will come from



Beijing being without their top scorer is a huge blow for the 2019 CSL runners up. Their next top scorers are Zhang Yuning with six, Alan with five, and Jonathan Viera and Fernando both have three. FC Seoul, meanwhile, have endured a modest season in front of goal. In fact, it has been one of their worst with just 23 scored in 27 matches. In Seoul's debut season in 2004 they managed just 20 goals from 24 games, in 2007 it was 23 from 26. 

Even in 2018 when Seoul competed in the promotion/relegation playoff, the capital club managed to score 40. Yun Ju-tae has made the most shots for Seoul this term with 37, followed by Han Seung-gyu with 36 and Cho Young-wook with 34. In terms of shooting accuracy, Han Seung-gyu leads with 61%, Yun Ju-tae second with 40.5%, and Cho Young-wook third with 32%.

Prediction

This is likely to be a low-scoring affair, certainly for FC Seoul. If Lee Won-jun's men can get a draw then it would be seen as a good result - 1-1 or 0-0.

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