Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Historic victory

Daejeon Citizen 2- 1 Suwon Bluewings
Saturday May 5th 2012

This weekend Daejeon secured one of their most historic victories in recent times. So far, this season has brought little in the way of joy for Citizen supporters, but Saturday went a long way towards making amends for that. Facing off against their greatest rival, Suwon Samsung Bluewings  (with the Bluewings sitting on top of the table and Daejeon bottom) was a daunting task. The team rose to the occasion and gave their best performance of the season to date. The rivalry between the clubs is much more than sheer footballing competition, it extends into political ideologues. As their names suggest, the financial support for each club comes from very different areas. The Citizens are owned by the population of Daejeon and therefore operate on a very small budget. With their corporate sponsor as part of their name, Suwon Samsung Bluewings operate on a completely different financial level and are one of the biggest spenders in the league. With the huge gulf in resources and Daejeon's poor form compounded by last week's awful display, there was little confidence amongst fans. In the end, this David and Goliath win not only boosted the Purple Army - it moved Daejeon to within one point of Incheon at the foot of the table.
After last week's failed experiment of playing with every single player behind the ball, Yoo saw sense and reverted to a familiar shape. Suwon fielded their normal formation, a version of 4-4-2 where both wingers are asked to push on.
Line up
To offer attacking intent Kevin was recalled to the starting line up along with a few other changes. Leo dropped to the bench and saw his place go to Ji, and Alessandro was out of squad completely.There were 2 new fullbacks, with the return of 13. Kim at left back. After a terrible start to the season, he seems to be slowly finding a consistent level of performance of late.

The Match
It was apparent right from kickoff that Daejeon were intent on attacking more than in the game against Ulsan. There was support available to Kevin and players running beyond him in search of flick-ons. After only 10 minutes this led to the opening chance. A long ball was played forward from the back towards Kevin, who (unlike in recent weeks) had several Daejeon players in sight of him.
Kevin (underlined) won the header and flicked it on towards two players he had running past him in support. He also had an option short in front of him if he had taken the ball down. This kind of support had been non-existent up until now and showed Daejeon were determined not to sit back and surrender.
This chance lead to a break down the left-hand side of the box, where Daejeon once again showed their commitment to getting forward quickly by flooding the box and offering the crosser options. Though the cross was blocked and the attack came to nothing, it was an exciting and refreshing start for Daejeon supporters. It wasn't long before Citizen fans were on their feet in celebration.
Around the 20th minute Daejeon took possession of the ball in defence and, rather than aim long as they usually do, they strung together a series of passes. They advanced into the Suwon half as a team, then switching the play along the floor.
After nice interplay down the left-hand side the ball was switched to the right. 20. Lee (triangle) advanced with the ball before playing it to 33. Kim, the Daejeon right back (circle). 33. Kim, who having overlapped picked a nice short pass, allowed the right winger (square), 22. Kim, to find space and deliver a cross. Even before the cross, this was one of the nicest moves Daejeon fans had witnessed all season.

The cross was beautifully flighted and landed perfectly on the head of Kevin. Though there was a slice of luck with a deflection coming of a Suwon defender, the ball found it way into the net and Daejeon had a deserved and wonderfully crafted lead. Kevin had started the game extremely well, having won every header he contested within the opening 30 minutes and causing Australian international centre half, Eddy Bosnar, nightmares. The increased support meant Kevin was not swamped by every opposition defender. Combined with the improvement in the quality of delivery, Daejeon were 1 goal ahead.

Suwon seemed to finally wake up after going behind and began to retain more of the ball. However, they were finding it very difficult to break Daejeon down and often resorted to long inaccurate passes.
Suwon were trying to pick their way through the centre of the park, but Daejeon were successful in their attempts to stifle and interrupt Suwon's passing game. The Bluewings seemed to lack natural width and their fullbacks were playing rather defensively.
On several occasions there was space out wide after Suwon's wingers had drifted into the middle. In the picture above Suwon fail to capitalise on the huge gap down Daejeon's right side after their left winger had dragged his opposing full back inside. The fullbacks failed to exploit this space which hindered Suwon two-fold. Firstly, with no wide outlet Suwon's midfielders would often have to drop the ball back to a defender, who would play longs balls that were being easily dealt with by Daejeon. Secondly, their failure to push on meant Daejeon's wingers were not forced back deep into their own half and were able to remain closer to Kevin and get nearer to him in support when Daejeon broke.

In the 31st minute Suwon had their own slice of luck and leveled the score. They fired a free-kick from about 30 yards from goal direct into the Daejeon wall, but the ball ran perfectly into the path of a Suwon attacker inside the Daejeon box, who was dragged down by Chung. Chung was rightly dismissed and Radoncic converted the penalty. Many Daejeon fans may have understandably begun to feel rather nervous. However, the red card had little impact upon the flow of the game and Daejeon were able to cope as they had before.
With only a small adjustment in shape, Daejeon were able to maintain their attempts at crowding out Suwon and reached half time deservedly level. When the second half began it was a surprise to see there had been no change in personal or apparent change in shape for Suwon. They hadn't looked any more dangerous in the final 10 minutes of the first half despite their man advantage but it seemed they would begin the second half with the same plan.
With Daejeon retreating to their own half before pressing the ball, as they usually do, and Suwon's full backs seemingly unwilling to advance, if often meant there were 5 Suwon players back, with only Kevin showing any mild interest in pressing them. This meant that there tended to be around 8 players in Daejeon's defensive third to only 5 Suwon attackers. Daejeon looked comfortable and Suwon barely created any chances warranting a mention. It wasn't until very late in the half that Suwon attempted to address this imbalance but by this point the Citizens could see the end in sight and were determined to secure a point. Suwon's decision not to push forward earlier meant they never looked like taking the lead in the game.

Then in the 93rd minute came a miracle that even Daejeon fans had dared not dream of. Managing to gain a point against their in-form rivals would have been enough to send the Purple Army home happy, but they were to leave the ground elated. A sloppy pass from a Suwon defender was intercepted and Kevin picked up the loose ball just inside his own half. He turned and ran directly at the Suwon centre halves who seemed to have switched off and skipped past their challenge, allowing himself to run through on goal. With the ball running away from goal, Kevin struck a thunderous shot back across the keeper that flew into the net. The Daejeon fans behind the goal went crazy and Kevin had written his name into DCFC history.


Daejeon began this game with far grater attacking intent than recent weeks and looked a threat throughout the game, despite being reduced to ten men. Kevin dominated the Suwon back line, and showed that when given good service he will put chances away. He can not be expected to create goals from nothing like he did for his second each week, but if Daejeon can provide more crosses like the one for his first goal, we will begin to see his name on the score sheet far more often.

The two centre halves had solid games and looked comfortable dealing with Radoncic and Everton, two of the best attackers in the league. The midfield in front of them worked especially hard after the red card, and the defensive unit can be proud that they never conceded following the penalty. It may be difficult for Alessandro to get back into the team if they can maintain this form.

It must be acknowledged though that Suwon were not at their best and seemed to lack urgency. They failed to make the most of their numerical advantage and could have made this a much tougher test.

Daejeon fans must hope that Yoo can build upon this performance and get this much out of his players each week, not just against their rivals. The team are now only one point behind Incheon, and with more performances like this, could soon overtake them. Let's see what Yoo can do.

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