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Preview: Gangwon FC vs FC Seoul


Now 12 league games without a win, Gangwon FC may begin to feel a sense of desperation ahead of this weekend's clash with FC Seoul. The visitors, though, come into Saturday on the back of a 7-2 thrashing of Suwon FC, so perhaps the Bears won't be going all out just yet.

Recent Form

Unfortunately for Gangwon, recent performance improvements haven't had a massive impact in their quest for survival, with their record in the league three draws and one loss under new boss Yoon Jong-hwan. This means the Bears linger in 11th, and although there are plenty of positives for the team to take from Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Daegu FC, a lack of goals remains a large concern.

For FC Seoul, they had been somewhat tailing off after their strong start to the season, winning just two of their last seven. Still, Wednesday's 7-2 victory is the perfect way to reignite confidence in the capital city club, who do still sit in third place, and it certainly shows there's plenty An Ik-soo's men have to give as they continue to push for an AFC Champions League spot.

Team News

Generally speaking, Yoon Jong-hwan has a healthy Gangwon squad at his disposal, though there is plenty for him to contemplate coming into this weekend. Will Lee Gwang-yeon get to keep his number one spot in goal following an excellent performance against Daegu? Does Yago Cariello get the nod up front after a brief cameo in midweek? Is it time for Yang Hyun-jun to have a rest as his future at the club remains unclear? Amidst this selection uncertainty, the likes of Kim Young-bin and captain Han Kook-young are expected to retain their positions as regular starters going forward.

On the FC Seoul side, Lee Han-beom is able to return to the fray now he has served his suspension. Other than that, it's unclear whether Kang Seong-jin or Lee Tae-seok will feature, but Kim Sin-jin could well keep his place in the starting eleven after scoring a brace on Wednesday.

Head-to-Head

This fixture tends to bring with it a mixed bag of results, though FC Seoul do have the upper hand overall thanks to their total of 16 wins across the 35 meetings between the two clubs (meanwhile, Gangwon have won 10 times, and there have been nine draws). Nevertheless, the Bears have won two in a row when facing FC Seoul on home soil.

What to Watch

Can new signings change Gangwon's fortunes?


With five incomings so far this summer at Gangwon, it's fair to say the club have been busy in the transfer market. Notably, the Bears have signed four forwards, the hope being that such additions will refresh a forward line that has severely struggled for goals this year (Gangwon have scored 13 times across their 22 league matches).

So, the task now is for Yoon Jong-hwan to bring the best out of these fresh faces, and quickly. Centre back Marko Tuci is already looking an astute pickup for the Bears, and so it's likely the Brazilian trio of Yago Cariello, Welinton Junior and Vitor Gabriel, as well as the experienced Yun Il-lok, will be expected to make a similarly positive impact for the team when called upon. If they can manage that, perhaps safety may still be on the cards for the provincial club.

Back-to-Back wins for FC Seoul?

It may come as a surprise, but FC Seoul's only back-to-back league wins this season came in the club's opening two fixtures. Of course, An Ik-soo's side have still had multiple unbeaten stretches, but ultimately it's consistent victories that will get you moving up the table, and competing for the top prizes. After all, Seoul are only two points away from Pohang Steelers in second, so a run of wins could be a difference maker as we head towards the proverbial business end of the season.

To make a long story short, against an out of form Gangwon, FC Seoul have an opportune chance to get their first set of back-to-back league wins since early March, and potentially use that as a catalyst to cement their ambitions for the rest of 2023.

Who to Watch

Galego


Before now, Galego has struggled for minutes at Gangwon, often being reduced to substitute appearances where he is expected to operate as a game changer of sorts. However, the 26-year-old has seen his importance to the team rise under Yoon Jong-hwan, and therefore has played the full 90 in the Bears' last two matches. Last time out, the Brazilian forward had a relatively conflicting performance, showing both the good and bad in his game, but as Galego recaptures his sharpness and confidence, expect his consistency to return too.




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