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Preview: FC Seoul vs. Incheon United - Both teams look to bounce back in local derby

With a huge crowd expected for FC Seoul's first game since the signing of Jesse Lingard, local rivals Incheon United come to town looking to spoil the party. Both teams lost on the opening weekend, so each will have a point to prove in front of an anticipated 40,000 fans.



Recent Form

Last weekend, Seoul kicked off the season in front of a sold-out crowd at Gwangju FC. With Lingard-mania in the air, fans were excited at the prospect of the former Manchester United man making his debut. Despite this, it was the home side who took control of the game and emerged as deserved winners. A long-range effort by Lee Heekyun in the first half and a smart back-post finish from Gabriel Tigrao deep into injury time secured the victory for Gwangju.

As for Lingard? He managed his first 15 minutes of competitive football since May last year, much to the delight of the crowd. However, his cameo appearance failed to impact the outcome of the match. His most notable contribution was picking up a yellow card for a rash tackle on the halfway line. Whether he'll be chosen to start this weekend or come off the bench again remains to be seen. One would expect that the fans in attendance will be anticipating a stronger performance from Seoul this weekend.



Elsewhere, Incheon United also started their season with a defeat. The crowd of 15,060 at Sungui Arena turned up anticipating a win against the team who survived a relegation play-off last year, but Kim Eunjung's men were well-drilled and didn't offer as much space or time on the ball as the Suwon of last year.

Despite Incheon controlling most of the game, Suwon FC ran out 1-0 winners thanks to their first shot on target. The penalty, given in the last minute of the game, was gladly slotted home by Lee Seungwoo. Incheon looked lacklustre and sluggish in midfield, and were missing the outlet that Hernandes offered last season. The Durumi will have to up their game if they are to get anything this weekend.


What to Watch

For neutrals heading to the game, this is sure to be a spectacle. With Seoul averaging 22,493 fans last season, this game could attract twice as many as fans flock to catch a glimpse of Jesse Lingard. Whether this is a one-off event or an ongoing phenomenon, the atmosphere at the game is sure to be electric.

From a Seoul point of view, having more eyes on the product on the field will inevitably lead to greater expectations. After suffering an opening day defeat, a local derby presents the ideal opportunity to kick-start their season. During the off-season, the club strengthened their squad by adding Choi Jun, Ryu Jaemoon, and Rebin Sulaka to their ranks. Additionally, the trio of Han Seunggyu, the evergreen Ki Sungyueng, and Aleksandar Palocevic possess the ability to trouble Incheon, especially if we consider last week's performance against them.

Incheon will hope to play the role of party-poopers. An almost 4,000-strong group of away fans is expected at Seoul World Cup Stadium this weekend, with the visitors completely selling out their lower-tier allocation. The fans will make the thirty-kilometre trip hoping for a better showing from their team. However, with Kim Dohyeok, Moon Jihwan, and Shin Jinho still not fully fit, and Kim Boseop recovering from surgery on a broken ankle, coach Jo Sunghwan might have to rely on Incheon's youngsters again to try and make the difference.



Who to Watch

While much of the chat around the game will be on Jesse Lingard - whether he starts or not - games between Seoul and Incheon are often characterized by their midfield battles. For that reason, the performance of Ki Sungyueng will likely dictate how well Seoul play and whether Incheon can get anything out of the game.

Amidst last week's poor performance, Ki was still the best player on the pitch for Seoul and has long controlled the tempo and style of their play. Additionally, with his experience playing in front of large crowds both overseas and for the national team, one would expect him not to be fazed by the turnout or get caught up in the moment.



Head to Head

Looking at the last ten meetings between the sides, Seoul has won 2 of the last ten games, while Incheon managed four victories. Of the four draws, only one has been scoreless. Across the six victories for either team, half have been away wins.

Last season, each team won once: Seoul won 2-1 at home on the opening day, before the clubs drew 1-1 in June in Incheon, and the Blue-Black picked up a 1-0 away win in an eventful game in July last year.



Where to Watch

The games will be available to stream online at K League TV outside of Korea, and in all the usual places inside.  The game takes place on Sunday 10th March and kicks off at 16:00 KST.


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