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Seoul E-Land travel to Gyeongnam looking to continue their blistering start


Gyeongnam FC welcomes league leaders Seoul E-Land to the Changwon Football Center this weekend knowing they will have to play at their maximum to get anything from the contest.  The in-form Leopards have made an impressive start to their season, winning twice and drawing once in their opening three fixtures.  In contrast, the home side has made an indifferent start only picking up three points thus far.  The Reds put in a much-improved display last time out so will be hoping to continue that form into this clash.  KLU's Gyeongnam FC columnist James Edrupt previews this one.

Match: Gyeongnam FC vs Seoul E-Land.
Venue: Changwon Football Center.  Changwon.
Kick off: Sunday. March 21st, 2021; 13:30 (KST)

Recent Form

Gyeongnam picked up a much-needed three points away in Ansan last Saturday.  The game burst into life in the last twenty minutes when a defensive error let in substitute Willyan who finished with aplomb to give the Reds what he thought was a late winner.  The Greeners had other ideas and leveled proceedings after a corner was not dealt with properly.  Center back Kim Min-ho was quickest to react to a knockdown and he rammed the ball home from close range with just three minutes remaining.  The drama was not done yet when Brazilian winger Willyan showed his class and planted a firm header into the top corner to seal the game for the visitors right on full time.  However, there was still time for the hosts to rescue a point when they were awarded a spot-kick in stoppage time.  Penalty hero from last week Kim Ryun-do saw his feeble effort saved by goalkeeper Hwang Sung-min.  Gyeongnam on the balance of play throughout the ninety minutes deserved the victory and it prevented the promotion hopefuls from going winless in their opening three fixtures.

Seoul E-Land played out an entertaining 1-1 draw with fellow promotion hopefuls Jeonnam Dragons In the capital.  The Dragons took a surprise lead as early as the 5th minute when defender Ko Tae-won nodded the ball over the line for his first-ever professional goal following a long throw into the six-yard box.  The Leopards were to level matters just eleven minutes after the interval through key midfielder Leandro who finished off a sweeping counter-attacking move.  Both teams had further chances to take home the spoils but in the end, a draw was a fair result and continues both their unbeaten starts to their respective campaigns.

What To Watch

From a Gyeongnam perspective, this clash will come as a welcome test to Seol Ki-hyeon's squad.  There were signs that the Reds were just starting to click into gear last Saturday.  Seol rang the changes, dropping six players, including two of the off-season major signings in center forward Lee Jeong-hyeop and Brazilian winger Willyan.  The latter came on a bagged himself a brace so he has shown the gaffer what he is made of.  

The new look, more fluid Gyeongnam starting eleven looked far more of a threat in the final third than of previous weeks.  The rotation of the squad worked, so it'll be fascinating to see what starting eleven Seol opts for against The Leopards.  

Dropped to the bench, Willyan came on and won the game for Gyeongnam

In contrast, Seoul E-Land have had a remarkable start to their 2021 K League 2 season.  Remaining unbeaten thus far and scoring eight goals in the process and only conceding one.  New recruits William Barbio and Nicolas Benegas have been embedded into the squad very smoothly and have looked very impressive during their time on the pitch. 

Kim Min-kyun might still be a doubt due to an injury he picked up on the opening day against Busan.  Kim Kyeong-min is still the first-choice keeper at the moment.  He has only conceded one goal so far and has looked very assured between the sticks.  Youngster Lee Sang-min’s game against Gyeongnam will be the last game for a week as he has been called up to the Olympic team.  Leandro scored his first goal last weekend and the link-up play with Barbio for his goal was exceptional.  Wing-back Hwang Tae-hyeon and midfielder Kim Seon-min continue to impress and will be key players in the side moving forward.  

Always in the headlines for the right reasons.  Leandro was back to his best last time out.,

What to Watch

Can Gyeongnam keep the main hub of Seoul E-Land quiet?

The home side just can't keep a clean sheet.  They haven't kept a clean sheet so far this campaign and have looked suspect at times at the back.  However, in all three games, they have dominated possession but just haven't had the creativity to turn it into goals.  On Saturday I don't see this pattern being reproduced.  E-Land travel south bursting with confidence and they will be looking to stamp their authority on the game early on.  They have a young and fit squad who get in the opposition faces and force mistakes out of their opponents.  

The attacking duo of Benegas and Leandro will be crucial to how E-Land fare this weekend
It'll be an intriguing battle between the Gyeongnam defense and the attacking trio of Barbio, Leandro, and Benegas.  Gyeongnam's regular center backs in Lee Kwang-seon and Kim Young-chan are strong and very good in the air.  If there is a weakness in their game it's their lack of pace in recovering the ball.  The Reds will rely heavily on set pieces and Seol might go with assigning defensive midfielder Jang Hyeok-jin on man-marking Leandro to try and stifle the supply into Barbio and Benegas.  Both sides possess some of the best talents in K League 2, so the quality of this clash should be of a high standard.  

[Midfielder Jang Hyeok-jin (center) will have his hands full on Sunday relying on his defensive duties more than ever.

Where to Watch

Fans overseas can watch for free on K League TV.

K League United Gyeongnam FC columnist


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