Sunday, 8 April 2012

Better shape, more effort, same result

Daejeon Citizen 0 - 1 Busan I'Park
7th April 2011

So this week Daejeon played host to Busan I'Park, who last week snatched a late victory away to Seongnam, playing a very defensive 5-4-1. Seongnam dominated the game and could rightly feel that Busan were very fortunate to take all three points. Busan wouldn't stray too far from that system this week, though this time they did offer more in an attacking sense. This would be expected of any team playing Daejeon, who before this game were on a run of five straight defeats.


Daejeon set up with one striker on the pitch, with Namgung coming in for Belgian Kevin Oris. When in possession however, it was much nearer to a lop sided 4-3-3, with the winger Leo and Ji pushing up and Chung joining the midfield.

When out of possession, the purples would retreat to a 5-4-1, with Chung dropping into defence. Pressing was mainly done once Busan entered the Daejeon half, with the defence and midfield forming close banks. On the ball Busan showed much more ambition than the previous week, immediately getting their two attacking midfielders up front and interchanging positions with Yoon.


There were six changes to the side that lost last week to Jeju in total. Namgung got his first start of the season in the place of Belgian Kevin Oris, who had been dropped to the bench and was still feeling the effects of an injury picked up against Incheon. Chung was also handed a place in the starting eleven. Though a normally a forward, he was asked to play between defence and midfield after last week’s poor midfield showing. Alongside him was Yuta Baba, who made his first start of the season after injury. There was a debut for Brazilian central defender Alessandro, who surprisingly took the place of number 5, Kim, who has played well this season in defence despite being relatively young and a midfielder by trade.

The match
The best chance of the first half came in the 4th minute, with Ji breaking into the box for Daejeon, but instead of shooting early he took an extra touch and was closed down. It was an excellent chance, ten yards from goal in the centre of the box and perhaps shows why Daejeon only have one goal so far this season.

Busan were sitting very deep when not in possession but would quickly transition when they won the ball back. They would move the ball forward quickly, getting near the Daejeon box within two or three passes. The long-range passing of Matt Mackay was evident for all to see, and he would quickly turn defence into attack with an accurate direct pass towards one of Busan’s three forwards. Though they had no clear chances, they looked organised and dangerous.

At half time Leo switched flanks with Ji, probably in an attempt to get more attacking support from left back number 13, Kim, who was given far more attacking licence than his namesake at right back.

The movement of Busan’s front three was impressive, and despite Daejeon offering them little in the way of real opportunities, they managed to fashion some half-chances. In the 49th minute a long Busan goal kick was headed away by the Daejeon defence, but Busan’s right-sided attacker had drifted in well and picked up the loose ball, firing just over the bar from the edge of the box.

As the game progressed Daejeon seemed to be edging control of the game and could have been pleased with their performance. The inclusion of Baba in midfield meant a huge improvement in the shape of the side and meant Busan could not simply breeze through the midfield and run directly at Daejeon’s defence as Jeju had. However, Baba did look rusty at times, occasionally being a second behind the play, missing tackles or making poor choices on the ball. This was evident in the 70th minute when he broke forward and had the Busan defence backpeddling, but rather than picking out one of the three players he had in support, he decided to shoot from nearly thirty yards.

The lack of understanding between players became apparent again in the 78th minute when Leo broke free and picked a pass in contrast to the run of Kevin Oris, who had come on in a straight swap for Namgung. Leo was playing in only his second game so this can be expected, though it is symptomatic of Daejeon’s attacks. With over twenty new players brought in during the winter, at times attacks lack fluidity.

Neither side had carved any clear chances but Daejeon had edged the second half and looked a much more organised and solid unit than they did last week. All that was lacking was some understanding between the players in the final third.

It was a sickening blow then, when in the 89th minute Busan substitute Fagner drilled in the winner. A speculative cross from the left was not really headed clear and landed at the feet of Matt Mackay, at the far side of the box. With everyone expecting him to shoot, Mackay displayed that extra bit of quality – he controlled the ball and rolled it back into the path of the advancing Fagner. It wasn't the greatest shot, but near enough to the corner that meant Kim could only get the softest of touches on it as it sneaked in.


It was a hard result for DCFC and their fans to take; a point in this game would have been fully deserved. Once again it was a late goal that was the undoing of Daejeon, as was discussed in a previous post.

Last week’s poor midfield display was overcome with the return of Baba and change of personnel in the middle. Though while going forward the midfield offered little, they were far more resolute and seemed more comfortable during the second half. Hopefully, if this lineup continues, they may begin to gel. As Baba returns to full fitness he should begin to strike up more of an understanding with the players around him. Daejeon are crying out for a midfielder of Matt Mackay’s quality - a hardworking combative midfielder who can quickly switch defence to attack with a single accurate pass.

The exclusion of number 5, Kim, came as quite a surprise. He has played well in defence so far this season and is comfortable on the ball. He began his career as a defensive midfielder and I would like to see him play that role for Daejeon now that Alessandro has joined. Instead Yoo Sang Chul decided to field a striker, 31 year old Chung, in that role.

Another question mark regarding Yoo is the thinking behind his substitutions. At no point this season have any of his changes influenced a game. This week he made the straight swap of Kevin for Namgung. I think bringing Kevin into the game was the correct idea as Daejeon were not troubling the Busan goal particularly, but this swap effected very little. In fact, Namgung was Daejeon’s man of the match, displaying excellent hold-up play, good movement and nice link up play. Moving to two up front and perhaps sacrificing a winger would have been a better move, but the fear of losing out on the first point of the season perhaps stopped Yoo from doing this. It was telling that Busan’s own substitute, Fagner for Han, was to be the deciding move. This resulted in a change of shape within which Fagner was able to find space for his goal by playing behind the two strikers rather than wide like Han had, and so evaded Daejeon’s defence.

There are clear signs of improvement over the last few games, but it may be that crunch time is already upon Daejeon. With their next three fixtures against teams all within the bottom half, (Sangju, Seongnam, and Chunnam Dragons), Daejeon must surely be looking for four points to keep them in touch with the rest of the league.

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