The defense was strong and unswerving. Sometimes, it takes steadfast defense to lead the game and to reach the goal in the long term.
On October 15 (Sat), FC Seoul recorded a scoreless tie with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the first Split Round of the 2017 KEB Hana Bank K League Classic, which was held at Jeonju World Cup Stadium. Boasting watertight defense in the away match, Seoul kept the latest five games undefeated (three wins and two draws) and continued their journey with strong impetus.
Seoul adopted a 4-3-3 formation. Yang Han-been wore the goalkeeper gloves, with Lee Kyu-ro, Hwang Hyun-soo, Lee Woong-hoon, and Shin Kwang-hoon forming a four-back defense line. Defensive midfielder Osmar Ibanez led the midfield at the center, with Lee Myung-joo and Ju Se-jong backing him up in each side. Park Chu-young led the offense in the front while Yun Il-lok and Go Yo-han spread in each wing position.
The two teams use distinctly different strategies from the start. As expected, the opponents used their heights advantage to pressure Seoul with headers. On the other hand, Seoul sought to create changes in the middle, on the strength of systemic teamwork. The visitors pressured back in response. In the 9th minute, Park Chu-young earned a free kick. Osmar took care of the free kick, but it hit the wall of defenders and missed the target slightly wide. In the 16th minute, Ju Se-jong lobbed a free kick near the center towards Hwang Hyun-soo, but the ball flew directly to the goalie. Seoul remained focused and tried to open the scoring on the back of stable defense. During the injury time, Lee Kyu-ro made a bold effort in a distance to find the net, but the ball flew over the goal, signaling the end of the first 45 minutes of the game.
Upon the start of the latter half, the hosts imposed strong pressure in a bid to take their home advantage. However, Seoul’s defense proved impregnable with systematic stability and efficient executions. GK Yang Han-been, who kept clean sheets for two consecutive games recently, boasted outstanding performance as well. The goalie cleared promising shots and side crosses with remarkable stability.
In the 19th minute, Seoul substituted Kim Han-gil for Yun Il-lok in a bid to make a difference. In the 24th minute, Ju Se-jong boosted Seoul’s morale with a bold shot from a distance. In the 30th minute, Seoul replaced Park Chu-young with Dejan Damjanovic, determined to find the net. Seoul used their last substation on Shim Sang-min in place of Go Yo-han. The visitors made their best effort to create chances to find the net in the face of the ceaseless challenges of the opposing side. Lee Myung-joo earned a free kick in the last injury time, and Ju Se-jong fired a pinpoint shot in an ambitious attempt to close the game, but it failed to lead to scoring, with the game being closed 0-0 in the end.
Though not a win, the game was a chance for FC Seoul to test their steadfast defense again. In particular, the four defenders spared no effort to face tough challenges and stave off the attacks from Jeonbuk. Plus, GK Yang Han-been’s stable defense was the lynchpin to Seoul’s defensive bulwark.
Having secured a valuable point in an away match, Seoul maintained their momentum for the Split Round, keeping the latest five games undefeated (three wins and two draws). The upcoming fixture is the Super Match, which will take place in Seoul. Seoul cannot afford to lose the game as it will be the last Super Match this season and determine the team’s advancement into the ACL. Fans are looking forward to Seoul’s match-up against Suwon on the 21st of October, which mark the biggest festival for local football league this year.