Hà Nội T&T opponents in the next round of the Asian Champions League Qualifiers are the K League’s FC Seoul.
Thanks to our friends over at kleaguereview.com here’s a quick guide to what T&T can expect.
K League form
FC Seoul are one of the biggest teams in Korea. They had the second highest attendance (18,000) in the league last year and are one of the richer clubs.
They last won the league in 2012, however last season was a transition season for them and they are somewhat lucky to be playing in the ACL at all this year.
After selling their best striker in the summer, a slow start to last season saw them stuck in the bottom half of the table with only fourteen games to go.
Towards the end of the season results started to pick up and they went into the last game of the year with a small chance of reaching third spot. However despite results going their way in other fixtures, FC Seoul didn’t seem able to score the goal that would see them reach third place.
That is until the 94th minute, when the ball dropped to DM Osmar Barba who swept the ball into the goal and FC Seoul into the ACL.
Champions League pedigree
All in all throughout the season they spent about three minutes in the Champions league spots.
That’s not to say they are undeserved of their place, and in fact they come with some impressive recent Champions League pedigree.
Last season they were knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual winners Western Sydney Wanderers, while the season before they narrowly lost in the final to Guangzhou Evergrande.
They generally play either a 3-4-3 or a 4-2-3-1. This means they are very solid defensively, especially as the wing backs can stay defensive when they need to be. In fact overall last season they had the second best defence in the K League.
FC Seoul’s best players are generally in the more defensive positions. Korean legend Cha Du Ri is a full back who is not afraid to get forward and his lung busting runs usually provide a host of chances. Vice-captain and 192cm tall defensive midfielder Osmar Barba is very solid and his presence in the middle was key to FC Seoul’s defensive record. His importance to the team will likely increase dramatically now that they have sold Asian cup finalist Kim Ju Young.
In attack promising youngster Yun Il Lok is a tricky winger with an eye for goal, he has been in good form during the preseason having scored three goals. Meanwhile the running of Escudero up front always upset’s the opposition’s defenders.
Colombian Molina is the club’s highest paid player. He plays attacking mid and is certainly one of the most technical and creative players in the squad. However at 34 he is beginning to show signs of his age and spent a large part of last season injured.
Seoul’s strength in defence does come at a cost and they are not the most dangerous team going forward. This is also intensified by the cautious nature of the manager, Choi Yong-soo. In the ACL semi-final against WSW they were too careful at home and ended up drawing the game 0-0. This made their job in the away leg much harder and after Sydney scored they were unable to get the goal they desperately needed.
They also showed their inability to break down mean defences in the KFA cup final against Seongnam. Seongnam, who at the time were in the relegation zone, simply sat back for 120 minutes, aiming to hit Seoul on the counter attack. While a goal in open play never materialised, they were able to beat Seoul on penalties and win the KFA Cup.
Perhaps this result could provide the template for a Hanoi T&T victory!
Article courtesy of kleaguereview.com
The winners of the ties will secure a place in a formidable looking Group H; which contains defending Champions Western Sydney Wanderers, China’s Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao and Kashima Antlers of Japan.
FC Seoul v Ha Noi T&T, 17th February 2014, 17.30 ko (Hanoi time)
Seoul World Cup Stadium.