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Can Gangwon build some vital momentum at home to Seongnam?


After an uninspiring yet highly organised draw against FC Seoul, Gangwon will be hoping to build some momentum going into the first leg of the promotion/relegation playoff when they come up against Seongnam. The visitors are in fairly decent form, though, and may refuse to ease up in spite of their guaranteed safety.

Recent Form

Since the league split, Gangwon are yet to win. But, at the same time, they have only found themselves on the losing end once, in a dismal 4-0 loss to Pohang Steelers. In Choi Yong-Soo's first game in charge, a 0-0 draw against FC Seoul, there were clear improvements on show, but the Bears undeniably played without a clinical edge. As a result, Choi will be hoping to keep the tight-knit organisation going into Saturday, but utilise set-pieces and counter attacks more efficiently as Gangwon search for their first league win in seven.

On the other hand, Seongnam have been relatively solid in their last four. They too have only fallen to defeat once - a 3-0 away defeat to FC Seoul - but have, unlike their opposition, picked up two vital wins to secure their safety. The Magpies' last fixture, a 1-0 victory over now relegated Gwangju, showed resilience and drive, something they will hope to build on here to end the season with a bit of style.


Team News

Captain Lim Chai-min returns for the home side after suspension on Saturday and should find his way into the starting eleven, but aside from that, little should change. Everyone performed their given roles competently on Sunday, and consistency is key going into two status-defining games next week. Rustamjon Ashurmatov may still miss out on making the squad through injury though, while long-term absentee Ko Moo-yeol is still recovering from a torn ligament.

Seongnam could be without Lee Jae-won and Richard Windbichler, but Kim Min-hyuk could return following his hamstring injury. With it being the end of the season, minimal changes should be in order for the Magpies, with their strongest available eleven all expected to be well in contention.

Head-to-Head

There’s a somewhat even head-to-head record in this fixture, with Seongnam winning on eleven occasions, Gangwon on nine, and the two playing out six stalemates. The Magpies won the last meeting comfortably, with a 2-0 scoreline one entirely convincing and deserved. There’s a new manager in charge now for the Bears, though, meaning that the sloppy loss afforded last time out could well change.

What to Watch

Can Gangwon show more attacking edge?

For all the positives on Sunday, one glaring negative was that Gangwon’s blunt attack looked, well, blunt. There was no palpable threat, and aside from a set-piece which almost caught the FC Seoul keeper out, it’s hard to recall any sort of goal scoring opportunity. Completing just five shots, there’s a big chance for Choi Yong-soo to test his side’s attacking steel on Saturday, even if it might make them slightly more open. Whether or not the players will prove capable enough is another story, though.

Can Seongnam send a message for next season?

Considering they were well in the midst of the relegation battle this year, a win at the weekend would take Seongnam to 47 points, which would in turn be their highest first division points total since 2015. It would show the side’s improvement, while also sending a message to those around them that they’re better equipped for next season, their fourth consecutive playing K League 1 football.


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