FC Seoul pulled off a scoreless draw with Ulsan Hyundai F.C. at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Round 13 of the 2017 K League Classic. Though it was not a victory, Seoul’s experiment with a four-back system proved to be successful with remarkable systemic plays in the middle and offensives from both flanks showing signs of recovery.
For the game, FC Seoul adopted a 4-3-3 formation. Goalkeeper Yang Han-bin stood at the final line of defense with DF Kim-Chi-woo, Hwang Hyun-soo, Kwak Tae-hwi, and Sim Sang-min forming the four-back line. Osmar Ibanez was at the center of the midfield, with Ju Se-jong and Go Yo-han backing him up from each side. In the forward line, Dejan Damjanovic stood at the edge of the triangle along with Park Chu-young and Yun Il-lok.
FC Seoul made proactive efforts from the early minutes of the game. In the 8th minute, Sim Sang-min and Yun Il-lok were given consecutive chances for a corner kick, and two minutes later, Go Yo-han fired the very first shot on target for the hosts. In the 17th minute, Park Chu-young whipped in a cross for Ju Se-jong to nudge it towards the goalposts, which hit off a defender outside the goal line. In a counterattack that immediately followed, Sim Sang-min made an acrobatic effort to fend off the offensives from the opposing side twice in a row. In the 24th minute, Dejan collected a pass from Ju S-jong to unleash his first shot, but the ball flew slightly wide the goalposts.
On momentum, Dejan carved out a chance in the thick of defenders with his elusive ball control, and fired yet another shot, which was blocked by the goalkeeper with his best possible effort. In a corner that followed, Osmar Ibanez managed to hit the ball with a header, but it flew off the target again. At every juncture of counterattacks from the opposing side, Kim Chi-woo was there to cut off their ball possession with almost irritable insight and precision. In the 37th minute, Kim Chi-woo’s early cross was collected by Dejan for a header, but the header was blocked again. While the hosts did not find the net, they demonstrated stable defense for the first 45 minutes of the game.
FC Seoul continued to pommel the visitors in the latter half. In the 6th minute, Sim Sang-min collected a long pass from Ju Se-jong before charging down the pitch for a bold effort from a distance, but his shot flew over the upper bar. In the 18th minute, Seoul replaced Park Chu-young with Yoon Seung-won in a bid to inject vitality into the squad. In the 21st minute, Osmar collected a corner kick from Sim Sang-min, and Yoon Seung-won dashed in to have a go, but regretfully the ball soon found itself in the arms of the goalkeeper. From a corner kick, Go Yo-han had a stab at opening the scoring, but the ball went over the top of the goalposts.
FC Seoul’s strong will to find the net remained undiminished for the rest of the game. In the 36th minute, Ju Se-jong collected a pass from Dejan and made an optimistic effort from a good distance, but a defender got on his way. Three minutes later, Seoul substituted Mauro, declaring they were here to find the net. In the 41st minute, Mauro’s corner kick was delivered to Dejan, and despite such great precision, Dejan’s header was blocked by the goalkeeper. While several more attempts were made to net an opener, the game was closed 0-0 at length.
Though it stopped short of a win, the game was meaningful as Seoul proved to have adapted to the four-back formation, for which the team did not have much time for practice, further raising expectations about Seoul’s future games. Making up for the shortfalls demonstrated during the past three months, FC Seoul will bring their A-game for the upcoming fixture on June. With their zeal for prevalence, Seoul’s summer will be hotter than ever.