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FC Seoul 1-0 Gangwon Recap: Willyan's moment of magic the difference

On a rainy bank holiday Sunday afternoon at Seoul World Cup Stadium, FC Seoul eased past Gangwon FC 1-0 in Round 15 of the 2023 Hana 1Q K League 1 campaign thanks to some first-half magic from Willyan. After two games without a win, three points will have been the priority for An Ik-soo but Seoul's second-half display meant the result wasn't as comfortable as it ought to have been. 

The 14,419 in attendance didn't have a great deal to cheer for. In fact, Willyan's 35th-minute strike was the only real show of attacking proficiency from either side. Gangwon, meanwhile, looked completely devoid of ideas and bereft of confidence. Manager Choi Yong-soo will be hoping that the Gangwon hierarchy have a striker lined up in the summer transfer window.

Main Takeaways

Can Seoul put teams to the sword at home?

In a word, no. Against Jeonbuk and Jeju at home more recently, Seoul ought to have scored more than they did. More so against Jeonbuk who, at the time, were on a wretched fun of form. But against a struggling Gangwon side in front of their own fans, Seoul will have been wanting to put on a real display and earn a convincing win. 

At the start of the campaign, FC Seoul looked more incisive, more aggressive and less ponderous. They had a bit more fevre about them, seemingly moving away from the slow and methodical build-up play that had seen them dominate games but come away with little for their endeavours.

But as the 2023 season has progressed, An Ik-soo's men have reverted to type somewhat. And so it was telling that the breakthrough against Gangwon came from Willyan being ultra direct, typical of the Brazilian who drove forward toward goal with real purpose after picking up a loose ball around 35 yards out. He had Hwang Ui-jo try to overlap him, switching positions so as to either give him a direct route to goal or to provide him with an option, but Willyan had just one thing on his mind and that was to shoot. It was a tidy finish from the former Gwangju, Gyeongnam, and currently on-loan Daejeon forward, who is now on two goals for the season. 

Closing out the first 45 and for the first 15 minutes of the second half, Seoul didn't offer much else going forward. An Ik-soo decided to make two changes, Lim Sang-hyub and Kim Sin-jin came on in place of Willyan and Paločević. Gangwon were there for the taking and the game needed to be put to bed. What's ironic about Hwang Ui-jo and his role in the team is that Seoul try so hard to get the ball to him to score, but this seems to hinder them. The team is built around Hwang Ui-jo but for one reason or another, it hasn't quite clicked. His loan deal expires just over a month from now, and he is stuck on two goals and four assists which, isn't a bad return when thinking of it has goal contributions but there's a lack of composure in and around the box for Seoul. 


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What's going wrong with Gangwon's frontline?

Gangwon didn't even look like scoring. They began with a front three of Park Sang-hyeok centrally and Kim Dae-woo and Yang Hyun-jun on the flanks. For the majority of the first half, the trio barely got a kick, Park Sang-hyeok's one half-chance aside. For the start of the second half, Choi Yong-soo made a double substitution; Park Sang-hyeok came off for Lee Jeong-hyeob while Galego was introduced with captain and central midfielder Seo Min-woo coming off. Galego went to right wing in a 5-4-1, Lee Jeong-hyeob was the lone striker but with the ball, this morphed into a front three. Gangwon at least had a focal point in Lee and some creativity in Galego.

It was the Brazilian who had Gangwon's first decent chance of the second half, finding himself bearing down on goal albeit from an angle but Lee Han-beom was able to slide in and block the shot. Gangwon did wake up a bit in the second half, encouraged by Seoul's lack of penetration. 

Things got a bit desperate the longer the game stayed at 1-0 and while Gangwon were poor all afternoon, they were lucky that Seoul didn't seem too fussed about finding a second goal. However, the Bears had no bite whatsoever and lumbered to a poor defeat. Gangwon are desperate for a player who can find the back of the net for them. The team's average xG is 0.9 and it's been above 1.0 on just four occasions. Ironically, their best of 1.95 came in a game they lost - 2-0 away to Pohang.


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Key Stats

Possession was split 60-40 in Seoul's favour and, interestingly, both teams recorded an xG of 0.66. Seoul had six shots on target from a total of 16 while Gangwon managed just one from seven - Kim Dae-woo's long-ranger on 35 minutes which had an xG of 0.02. Gangwon's front three of Park Sang-hyeok, Kim Dae-woo, and Yang Hyun-jun had an xG of 0.03, 0.12, and 0.2 respectively. Seoul's best chance, at least according to xG, fell to Kim Ju-sung (0.14) in the 23rd minute - his header from six yards out was straight at the 'keeper though. 

Hwang Ui-jo's xG was 0.13 which is the third-lowest he has recorded in an FC Seoul shirt. He had four shots and two reached the target but his best chance that hit the target had an xG of 0.07. As for the rest of FC Seoul's forward players, Na Sang-ho had one shot but it didn't hit the target and it wasn't enough for an expected goals value, while Willyan had one shot which was his goal which brought an xG of 0.09.

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