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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Gyeongnam FC

Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Gyeongnam FC
A revitalized Jeonnam Dragons take on struggling Gyeongnam FC this Sunday in the K League 2. After rising to fourth, the Dragons will be looking to cement their place in the playoff spots and keep pace with in form teams Suwon and Jeju, whereas Gyeongnam will be focused on moving away from the bottom of the table, as they currently languish in seventh.

Match: Jeonnam Dragons vs Gyeongnam FC
Venue: Gwangyang Football Stadium
Kick-off: 26th July 2020. 18:00 KST
Form: Jeonnam: WLDWW  Gyeongnam: DLLLD

Last Time Out

Jeonnam Dragons 2 - 0 Bucheon FC 1995

A much changed Dragons team ground out a well deserved win against a Bucheon side that has somewhat fallen away in recent games. The Dragons made seven changes after their FA Cup game against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the week, and this result will give manager Jeon Hyung-jun plenty of confidence in the depth of his squad, but also a few welcome selection headaches.

The first half was even, with both sides having good opportunities, and either could've gone in at the break in front, although, as is often the case with Jeonnam games, the score remained goalless at half time. After the break, the Dragons introduced Lee Jong-ho and Oleg Zoteev which gave them the confidence to take the game to Bucheon. That confidence exposed a clumsy defence when Ha Seun-gun put them under pressure with a powerful direct run, leading to a penalty, converted by Lee, only five minutes after coming on to the pitch.

The second goal was a combination of a player, Ha Seun-gun, playing with confidence, and a defence that seems to always be in two minds. Ha took his first Jeonnam goal well, and will be hoping to get the chance to continue his good form this weekend.


Ansan Greeners 0 - 0 Gyeongnam FC

Ansan Greeners sit bottom of the table for a reason: they can't score. They also concede plenty, enough for Gyeongnam to have used this game as a platform to build on for the rest of their season. Instead, manager Seol Ki-hyeon made the decision to rest many of the team's "big guns" such as Yang Huk-jin and Baek Sung-dong, but that decision ultimately backfired and resulted in a disjointed performance in which the visitors managed a paltry three shots on goal all game.

What should worry Gyeongnam fans is that Ansan actually had the better of it, and if it hadn't been for a goal line clearance in the 93rd minute from defender Lee Kwang-seon, the Greeners would surely have taken all three points.

Overall, this game won't last long in the memory, perhaps emphasized by the fact that the game highlights last only 4 minutes 49 seconds, whereas games in the same game week, such as Daejeon vs Suwon, go past the 9 minute mark.


Previous Meetings

Jeonnam and Gyeongnam have a long history of playing each other, going back before the K League was split into two leagues (the Classic and Challenge), and both teams have plenty of wins and losses to their name versus each other.

But recent form suggests the Dragons will be more confident going into this game, having played each other twice already this season, the first being the season opener, which resulted in a nervy 0-0 draw, and the second, which came earlier this month, was a 4-0  demolition of Gyeongnam.

Team News

Jeonnam wrapped up the summer transfer window with the signing of 20 year old Brazilian forward Hernandes Rodrigues da Silva from Gremio. The Dragons have been crying out for some attacking talent all season, especially as winter signing Rodolfo hasn't made a competitive appearance since joining the club, due to injury. Hernandes may be introduced into the squad slowly considering team's current good form. As mentioned, manager Jeon Kyung-jun made no fewer than seven changes to his starting eleven in the Bucheon game, so it'll be difficult to predict who will be in the starting line up this Sunday, as many players will feel they deserve a place on the pitch. Dragon's top scorer Julian Kristoffersen will miss out this weekend's clash due to suspension.

Gyeongnam haven't been too active in the transfer market, welcoming a few players deemed surplus to requirements by K League 1 teams, most notably Han Ji-ho, who had a successful 2019 season with Busan IPark, and should help them shore up their leaky defence. Gyeongnam are a team low on confidence and perhaps have a few players whose hearts aren't in it. Despite players such as Deric being available for selection, and proving he can score for fun in previous K League 1 campaigns with Gangwon and Gyeongnam, the Serbian doesn't seem to enjoy playing football in the lower division, along with a few other squad members. One thing is certain though, manager Seol will be making some changes following that disappointing draw versus Ansan.

What To Watch

Will Jeonnam's purple patch continue?

After selling off many of their top players and favoring youth this year, many tipped Jeonnam to have an average mid-table season, not quite good enough to challenge, but with enough quality to not get in to any real trouble. However, after a fairly slow start in terms of goals, the Dragons have recently seemed to have hit a balance between scoring goals and their impressive clean sheet record, turning them into real title contenders if their new signings can add some quality to their attack.

Is it only a matter of time until Gyeongnam start playing well?

Just as Jeonnam have surprised fans this season, so have Gyeongnam, but for different reasons. After their shock relegation, and holding on to a many key players coming down to K League 2, many thought Gyeongnam would be in contention for the league title, and at the very least, safely in the play off spots. We saw Jeju (also relegated last season) have a slow start, but eventually their quality and experience started to show, and they now sit second in the table, two points behind leaders Suwon FC with a game in hand. Most fans could see what Jeju were trying to do, and felt it was only a matter of time before they would start picking up points, but with Gyeongnam, it's difficult to see where the points will be won. Certainly defence is where points are being lost, so Gyeongnam need to improve at the back drastically if we're to see any improvement in their league position.

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Jeonnam are peaking right now, while Gyeongnam are a team completely bereft of confidence. It'll take something special for them to get a positive result this Sunday.

Prediction: Jeonnam win

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