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Preview: Gangwon FC vs Daegu FC


After suffering back-to-back defeats in their opening two fixtures, Gangwon FC will be hoping to reverse their fortunes when they host Daegu FC. The visitors are also winless thus far, though they did pick up their first point of the season this past weekend against Jeju United.


Recent Form

It's been a disappointing start to 2023 for Gangwon. Not only are they the only club in K League 1 without a point, they have the unwelcome statistic of being the sole goalless side too. As such, the Bears currently sit rock bottom of the table, with nothing to show for the improvements displayed against Ulsan Hyundai on Sunday. Going forward, Gangwon will need to possess a more clinical edge should they want to rise up the table.

Daegu, on the other hand, came back from 1-0 down to salvage their first point of the campaign against Jeju United, thanks to a Lucas Barcelos penalty. The Sky Blues are now bound to look to use that result as a catalyst for better things, as they seek to make amends for their underwhelming 2022, which saw them drop out of the top-half for the first time since 2018.

Team News

With Ikromjon Alibaev returning, Gangwon are close to having a clean bill of health. However, Lee Jeong-hyeop is expected to be out for around six weeks, which limits the Bears' attacking options. South Korea u20s captain, Lee Seung-won, will also continue to miss out for now due to his national team commitments.

As for the away side, they come into Saturday's fixture with a few issues. Hong Chul remains sidelined with a torn knee ligament, while Daniel Penha could continue his absence. Other than that, Kim Hee-seung will be unavailable during his time with South Korea's u20 squad, and Keita Suzuki may soon return to the fray.

Head-to-Head

Historically, this is a fixture which has went against Gangwon, with Daegu winning 22 of the 47 meetings between the two clubs (the Bears have won 14, with 11 draws). But that statistic is slowly starting to change, and the provincial club have came out victorious in three out of their last five games against the Sky Blues. In fact, aside from an FA Cup semi-final defeat, Gangwon are five unbeaten on home soil against Saturday's opponents (four wins, one stalemate), giving them plenty of reason to be confident of claiming all three points.

What to Watch

Can Gangwon stop a potential rut?

Following on from four winless games at the end of last season, back-to-back losses to open the 2023 campaign could end up threatening to turn into something worse for Gangwon. The Bears have so far seemed a little uninspired in front of goal, have occasionally been too easy to carve open at the back, and need to find the same kind of sharpness some of their contemporaries have hit the ground running with. Of course, Choi Yong-soo has already proved himself capable of steering this group out of difficult situations before, and this is nowhere near a crisis situation, but the man who recently managed his 300th game will want to ensure Gangwon do not go too long without tasting victory again. Plus, a game against a side the provincial club has a decent recent record against seems an opportune time to put things right.

Will Daegu build some momentum?

Now that they're off the mark for the year, the aim for Daegu has to be building up a head of steam. After all, it wasn't too long ago the Sky Blues were finishing 3rd, and last season's blip needs to stay as one, as opposed to become the side's new normal. They've shown glimpses of the side they can be in their opening two games, so if they can channel those positives coming into a fixture opposite a vulnerable Gangwon side, there's no reason Daegu can't claim their first win here, and start climbing the table.

Who to Watch

Kim Dae-won

Former Daegu man Kim Dae-won has been Gangwon's star performer for the last two seasons, but hasn't quite yet been able to come back to haunt his old club, despite being on the winning side more often than not. As the saying goes, though, there's no time like the present, and it could be vital for the Bears should the 26-year-old manage to chip in with a goal or assist (either would be his first against his previous club), especially considering the Sky Blues haven't netted away to Gangwon since their FA Cup triumph in October 2021.


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