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Preview: Suwon Bluewings vs Pohang Steelers

A Pohang Steelers team in free-fall will visit the Suwon Bluewings on Sunday night knowing that a defeat could drag them even further toward the K League 1 relegation dogfight. Suwon, meanwhile, head into this off the back of an impressive win away to Daegu FC in midweek and could jump above Daegu in the table with a win. 

Last Time Out

Daegu FC 0-2 Suwon Bluewings
Suwon picked up their first victory against Daegu this year in style on Tuesday night. After being put to the sword for the first forty minutes of the game the Bluewings suddenly burst into life when Waguininho scored the opener in the 43rd minute. A quick one-two pass between Shin Se-gye and Taggart saw the former run through beyond the Daegu defence and as a reckless challenge came in on the full-back the ball ricocheted into the path of Waguininho. The Brazilian's instinctive first-time finish found the corner of the goal for his first of the season.

The game remained even throughout the second half but Suwon snatched all three points through the boot of Adam Taggart. Terry Antonis, on off the bench to make his debut, found some space on the left-wing and floated an inch perfect cross over to Taggart. The Australian striker made no mistake and fired home a right-footed volley to send the traveling Suwon fans into delirium.


Gangwon FC 2-1 Pohang Steelers
Pohang crashed to successive defeats with a second half collapse against an impressive Gangwon FC. The first half played out with both teams nullifying each other's attacks but Gangwon took a hold of the game in the second half and scored the opening goal in the 59th minute. A pull back from the left byline by Han Kook-young was met by Lee Young-jae. Surrounded by Pohang defenders the forward showed sublime skill to pirouette on the ball and then fire a low shot through the legs of the goalkeeper.

Gangwon all but clinched the game just three minutes later when Cho Jae-wan doubled their advantage. Picking the ball up on the right wing Cho dribbled his way beyond three Pohang defenders to a central position before letting fly with a beautiful curling effort from the edge of the area.

Pohang tried to comeback and got some consolation when Wanderson picked up on a headed clearance to score, but it was Gangwon who held on to tighten their grip on 4th place in the table.


Previous Meetings

These two will meet for the 4th time this year having already met twice in the league and once in the FA Cup in 2019. The Bluewings have ran out winners in two of those games whilst Pohang tasted victory in the other one. Of the 59 games played between them the Bluewings have won 20 whilst Pohang have been victorious 22 times against Suwon. Pohang have historically traveled well to Suwon World Cup Stadium and have recorded 11 wins and five draws from their 32 trips.

These games are usually tight affairs and only four times in the last five years has this fixture been settled by more than a single goal margin.

Team News

Suwon's injury crisis seems to be nearing the end with only Yeom Ki-hun, Jo Sung-jin and Jeon Se-jin unavailable for this game through injury. Yeom and Jo will remain on the sidelines for a while, however, Jeon Se-jin has returned to light training and could feature again over the coming weeks. Min Sang-gi will also be absent for this match as he completes the final game of his ban.

Terry Antonis made his debut in midweek but having not completed 90 minutes of football since May the Australian is likely to feature from off the bench again this weekend as he continues to gain full match fitness.

The Adversary

A dreadful start to the season saw Pohang part ways with their manager Choi Soon-ho earlier in the season. They moved quickly to appoint Kim Ki-dong as manager but Kim hasn't fared much better and Pohang's season is yet to kick-start.

The Steelers have only won one game in their last 11 and have the 3rd most losses in the league this year. They also have conceded the most goals of those teams outside of the bottom three. Part of the reason for this has been their stuttering attack and they are yet to find their feet going forward this season, and only Incheon and Seongnam have scored less than the Steelers this year. With only 233 shots made (averaging 9.99 per game) Pohang rank last in the league, a full 40 shots away from the league average. The Steelers also rank the lowest in the league for touches in the opposition box, demonstrating their lack of ambition to attack their opponents.

Shockingly, they opted to allow their star player and talisman, Kim Seung-dae, to leave for pastures new in the transfer window and although new signing Stanislav Iljutcenko has three goals in his first five games for the club Pohang could yet find themselves slipping closer to the relegation dogfight.

What To Watch

Adam Taggart scored in every single match he played in in July and all eyes will be on whether he can continue that sensational form throughout August. The Australian now leads the race for the Golden Boot by a clear four goals and has scored seven goals in his last six games. He and Antonis combined for Taggart's goal against Daegu in midweek and it will be interesting to see if the two Aussies can strike up some immediate chemistry.

Prediction

Pohang have a decent record when traveling to Suwon but with both teams in such different form it will be difficult for the Steelers' fans to travel north with much expectation. Suwon continue to go from strength to strength while Pohang drift down the table. Suwon haven't had the best record at home this year but this should be the perfect opportunity to record their 6th win in their last seven games.

[READ: K League 1 Round 24 Preview]

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