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Can Gangwon pick themselves up for their FA Cup semi-final clash with Daegu?

After a dismal 4-1 thrashing at home to FC Seoul gave Gangwon the harshest possible reality check, the Bears will be looking to dust themselves off for an important FA Cup tie which could see them reach their first ever cup final. They come up against 2018 winners Daegu, a team perhaps looking towards this competition as an ideal chance for Champions League qualification given their currently stunted league form.

Recent Form

Gangwon come into this fixture in relatively mixed form, with two wins, two losses and a draw in their last five. And, whilst performances have generally been improved following on from their forced COVID break during the summer, an abysmal outing against FC Seoul on Sunday, which led to the Bears’ first defeat in four, should provide some cause for concern. There, the defensive play was messy, unstructured and syringed with mistakes, whilst the attacking output favoured veering towards the unenviable wastefulness seen earlier in the season. With that being said, a cup tie, where the proverbial form book is thrown out of the window, could well be the best possible opportunity to remedy such an abject showing.

On the other side of the coin, Daegu aren’t faring a great deal better. Although they’re going into the league split in third place, they too have won just two out of their last five, with their most recent result a 2-0 home defeat to Suwon Samsung Bluewings (though it is worth keeping in mind that before this loss, they were unbeaten in seven, emerging victorious four times). Now winless in three, the Sky Blues will be hoping to return to form on Wednesday themselves, which could help make for an open, intriguing semi-final.


Team News

The selection headache Kim Byung-soo has suffered as of late due to the resurgence in form much of his squad enjoyed is likely to be the opposite kind going into Wednesday’s fixture, with a number of players arguably worthy of dropping to the bench. Fortunately, on the injury front there aren’t many issues, with Yun Suk-young regaining match fitness and the likes of Kim Dong-hyun all looking settled upon returning to the fray.

The visitors also have little to worry about about regarding team selection, with Cesinha, Kim Jae-woo and Jeong Tae-wook all either returning to the starting lineup or the match day squad last time out. It means they should have plenty of quality to be able to be competitive, even with potential absentees Kim Woo-seok and Jeong Seung-won, which could plausibly in turn aid the Sky Blues in their attempts to reach their second ever FA Cup final.

Head-to-Head

Despite the Bears defeating Daegu twice this season, they still fall behind in the overall head-to-head record, losing in 19 of the 42 meetings, and winning in 12. Having said that, Gangwon are unbeaten in their last three home games against the Sky Blues after enduring a losing streak of five matches as the hosts, so could cling to that particular upswing as motivation going into Wednesday’s clash. 

What to Watch

First final for Gangwon?

Since their debut as a team in 2009, the furthest Gangwon have ever gotten in domestic cups is the quarter final. It not only means that regardless of the score Wednesday’s game is their best ever FA Cup showing, but more crucially, that Kim Byung-soo and co. have a chance to put the provincial club in their first ever final. As such, the motivation for maximum effort couldn’t be clearer, and the squad have to be ready to leave their all on the pitch to avoid looking at this season as a missed opportunity for success.

Can Daegu change their tune away to the Bears?

Away to Gangwon this campaign, it’s fair to say that Daegu have been tame at best. Two losses - the first 3-0, the second 2-0 - underlined lukewarm performances and allowed for the Bears to gain 16% of their regular season points haul at the Sky Blues’ expense. To progress past the FA Cup semi-final, Wednesday’s outing has to be much improved for Daegu, and harken back to the consistency which allowed for an 11 game unbeaten run against Gangwon that stretched across three years.


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