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Suwon FC host Magpies in search of elusive first win

Two sides coming off the back of a slow start lock horns this Sunday, as Suwon FC have their best chance yet to take their first victory of the season against Gyeonggi-do rivals Seongnam FC. KLU columnist Todd Wilde previews this K League 1 clash.

Match: Suwon FC vs. Seongnam FC (Hana Bank K League 1, Round 4).

Venue: Suwon Sports Complex, Suwon.

Kick off: Sunday 14th March 2021, 14:00 KST

Where to Watch: Fans in the 34 countries with overseas broadcasting rights will be able to follow the match live on television. Alternatively, there is the K League's online OTT platform, K League TV, where live coverage will be available free of charge.

Recent Form

Recently promoted Suwon FC are still looking for their first win in the top flight since 2016. After an encouraging opening day draw away at Daegu FC, the Dashers were humbled in the capital, convincingly outplayed in a 3-0 loss by FC Seoul. On Wednesday night, the citizen club hosted their cross-city rivals Suwon Samsung Bluewings and performed credibly, securing a clean sheet and 0-0 draw in a game in which both sides had decent chances to break the deadlock.

Seongnam have looked defensively proficient to start their season, limiting their opposition to just one goal - a stunner by Suwon Samsung's Kim Min-woo in a 1-0 loss at the Big Bird last Sunday. Whilst the Magpies have failed to get off to the flying start of 2020, there's arguably more optimism amongst supporters that they can be further away from a relegation battle in 2021, though there must be real concern that the side has still not scored from open play. 

After opening the season at home with a goalless draw against Jeju United, it required a last gasp penalty for Seongnam to break the deadlock in midweek action against FC Seoul. A careless Ki Sung-yeung handball in the box allowed Fejsal Mulic to step up from 12 yards and give his side a valuable 1-0 win.

Team News

Suwon FC:

Coach Kim Do-kyun tinkered with his line-up again in midweek, but appears to be moving closer to a settled starting eleven. Yun Young-sun and Cho Yu-min are likely to continue their partnership at centre back after an excellent performance in midweek, whilst Lars Veldwijk was extremely effective playing in a lone striker role and will be expected to continue up front, supported by Kim Geon-woong and Han Seung-gyu in central midfield. 

Kim Sang-won impressed in a left wing back role against Suwon Samsung, but Park Joo-ho could return after being rested in midweek. One doubt for the side is former Gangwon FC midfielder Lee Yeong-jae, who was not available for selection in midweek.

Lars Veldwijk
Lars Veldwijk crafted three shooting opportunities in the Suwon Derby on Wednesday evening

Seongnam FC:

Austrian centre back Richard Windbichler is a doubt after being left out of the matchday squad for their match against FC Seoul, but the side will be boosted by the return of fellow defender Park Jeong-su, who returns after serving a one match suspension for his red card against Suwon Samsung. At the other of the pitch, Park Yong-ji will compete with Fejsal Mulic for a starting position, after the Serbian broke his goal scoring duck against Seoul.

Kim Nam-il has struggled to find the correct personnel to satisfy the league's U22 rule this season, but he may have found his solution in Kang Jae-woo, who put in a lively performance for sixty minutes up front. He was replaced by fellow U22 eligible attacker Hong Si-hoo, and both are likely to see significant action on Sunday.


Can Suwon win the midfield battle against one of the league's most underrated midfield duos?

Against their cross-city rivals on Tuesday night, Suwon FC struggled to assert their authority in the centre of the pitch, as Suwon Samsung dominated possession especially in the second half. Kim Geon-woong impressed in a holding midfield role for Suwon, yet in reality was deployed as a third centre back out of possession and was absent as a passing option when in possession. Han Seung-gyu was marked out of the game in a deeper role, whilst substitute Murilo - who played against Daegu as an attacking midfielder and against Seoul as a winger - looked completely lost in a deeper central midfield role.

This led Suwon to a change of tactics, which relied upon the use of direct cross-field balls into Kim Seung-joon, so ineffective on the left wing for Busan IPark in 2020, but surprisingly capable when leading the line as a lone striker. Kim relentlessly chased after what at first glance seemed like lost causes, controlling aerial balls in traffic, battling with centre backs, and laying off to supporting midfielders. One beneficiary was Han Seung-gyu, who was pushed forward to arrive late on counter attacks, but was unable to craft any clear cut chances late in the game. 

Lee Gyu-seong

Lee Gyu-seong (right) has impressed in his first three games

A new look midfield is proving to be the secret for Seongnam, as Kim Min-hyeok has combined with former Busan midfielder Lee Gyu-seong to give their side a solid and mechanical midfield. The two played together at military side Sangju Sangmu in 2019 and have hit the ground running, with Lee being named to the K League Team of the Week for Round 3. Lee possesses great awareness and a wide range of passing, but perhaps his most underrated ability is his penchant to drop his shoulder and surge past opposition players with a blistering and often surprising turn of pace.


Who To Watch

Cho Yu-min

Cho Yu-min

For all the talk of big name defensive signings before the start of the season, it was one of Suwon's heroes from their 2020 promotion campaign that impressed the most in the Suwon Derby on Wednesday evening. Cho Yu-min led his side in aerial duals won (five) and clearances (four), but his real impact on the game was his positioning and leadership. The side looked much better organised and more difficult to break down than against FC Seoul, with Cho's superior reading of the game contributing towards his side's first clean sheet of the season.

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