Talking Points from Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors's First Round Defeat

It was an entertaining first encounter of the season between Ulsan Hyundai and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in round 1, with the Horangi coming out victorious, winning 2-1. Definitely a disappointing loss for Kim Sang-sik and his team, who had a decent start to the game. Fans will be encouraged by their team's performance, but the green warriors must improve in some areas.


Kim Sang-sik made a brave decision in starting 21-year-old Kim Jeong-hoon. Newly acquired goalkeeper Jeong Min-ki was expected to at least come off the bench, but to many people's surprise, the manager trusted Kim to play out the entire game. The military returnee gained some valuable experience against a top side, but his mistake that led to Ulsan's second goal will be what people remember him for from this game. The club clearly have high hopes for him, and his start against Ulsan could indicate that the manager has even bigger plans for Kim Jeong-hoon than fans initially thought. Despite his costly mistake, it is encouraging to see that the club hold faith in the young goalkeeper and are willing to give him minutes.

Three former Ulsan players made their debut, Kim Geon-woong, Lee Dong-jun and Jun Amano. Other new signings Jeong Tae-wook and Andre Luis would make their debuts off the bench in the second half. Gustavo and Rafael Silva were left out of the squad altogether because of concerns over their fitness. 


When Ulsan played out from the back in the first half, Jeonbuk overwhelmed their defence by having the forward players press their backline. Forcing them to go backwards or attempt playing the ball to their midfielders where Paik Seung-ho and Kim Geon-woong are ready to apply pressure along with surrounding players.

Great thread by Ben Griffis here that shows how both sides pressed each other

Full thread, here.

The two wingers, Song Min-kyu and Lee Dong-jun were very effective in the first half. They would come inside and push forward just behind Cho Gue-sung. When Jeonbuk got deep into Ulsan's half, the wingers would stay in and around the box, waiting for an opportunity to arise. This is how the first goal was scored, Lee Dong-jun receives the ball at the edge of the box and manages to hold off the defender, dragging the defenders towards him as he distributes the ball to Jun Amano, who picks out Song Min-kyu in the box who then finishes nicely.

Song Min-kyu can play this role excellently due to his adequate positioning and awareness. He would drift into the box throughout the game and nearly act as a striker at times. Different to Lee Dong-jun who runs at the defence more.

Lee was impressive and had a decent game. The 26-year-old was dangerous down the right side and draws fouls from the opposition as they struggle to contain him, as he charges down the right side or dribbles his way through the opposition. He is a tricky player to play against and positions himself well, he is good at dropping into pockets of space, opening up the opposition, allowing him to make a run or play the ball across. Unfortunately, he had to come off in the second half due to injury concerns. Providing he can stay fit, he will be a crucial player for Kim Sang-sik this season.

Another player important to Jeonbuk this year is Jun Amano. He had a good game on his return to the Musnu Football Stadium and got the assist to Song Min-kyu's opener. Amano would rarely venture into the box when the team went forward, but he did provide needed wide support when necessary when the wingers would come inside and was vital in linking the defence to attack.

Jeonbuk were very well set up initially and dominated much of the first half, so where did it go wrong? A lot of why Ulsan won this game is due to their own quality. They did not play particularly well, certainly in the first half, but they grew into it. However, Jeonbuk's defending was questionable.

The defending for Ulsan's equaliser was disappointing. Some players were all over the place. Kim Jin-su rushed out to the final third to try and intercept the ball from Vako, which he failed to do, as a consequence Kim Geon-woong had to cover the left side. This caused an opening for Ulsan to play the ball into the box after Paik Seung-ho came to close the space down, leaving Kim Young-gwon completely free in the box, which dragged Park Jin-seob out to block him, then Kim Young-gwon plays it across to Vako whose deflected shot hits of Kim Geon-woong and falls to Eom Won-sang who puts away the volley. It was a good goal from Ulsan and they put a lot of players in the box. However, it should have been defended better.

The Horangi's second is almost entirely a Kim Jeong-hoon error. He could have cleared the ball and not of took the risk that he did. Hong Jeong-ho's pass back to Kim Jeong-hoon was not convincing, there was a significant lack of communication between them. Hong must share some blame for that goal. He should be doing better as a captain communication-wise at that moment.

[READ: "It was an amazing feeling! I didn't really know how to act!" - Ulsan Hyundai's Gustav Ludwigson]

Jeonbuk struggled towards the end of the game to get the ball forward. There was too much passing around the back. This is mainly due to Ulsan's shape and their press on the midfield. When Jeonbuk did try and get the ball up the pitch, it was often intercepted, leading to an Ulsan counterattack, forcing players to come back to defend during the last part of the game.

Overall, it was a good performance. Jeonbuk is a much-improved side compared to last year and it was evident against Ulsan. The new signings are still settling in and we haven't even seen all of them yet. Once they do settle and this team starts to gain momentum, they'll be hard to stop for most teams, especially with the more attacking football that is now being played.


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