The stakes are extremely high when Johor Darul Ta'zim take to the field at Changwon Football Center to face Gyeongnam on Wednesday with a possible ticket to the knockout stage of the 2019 AFC Champions League on the cards, should them result between Kashima Antlers and Shandong Luneng favour them.
This will be the second meeting between JDT and Gyeongnam, having met the first time at Tan Sri Dato Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium on March 12 where it finished 1-1. That was the game JDT dominated and should have claimed all three points in Johor Bahru.
Ahead of their second meeting, what learnings could JDT have from the statistics from the corresponding match? Goal analysed and breakdown that 1-1 draw and see where JDT can exploit Gyeongnam tomorrow.
Gyeongnam had slightly more ball possession (52%-48%) but mustered only six shots with that, compared to JDT who produced 21 on the day. Jordan Mutch and Lee Young-Jae were the highest passers in the match with Hariss Harun on third. So as long as JDT remained diligent in keeping their shape and concentration, gifting Gyeongnam the ball is unlikely to cause much trouble.
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Careful of the speed up front
Luc Castaignos may be the main striker in attack but Gyeongnam do utilise the pace they possess in Kim Seung-jun and Negueba. Four times Gyeongnam were caught offside in the first game, showing that they try to release quick early passes to their speedsters to catch JDT off guards. Aidil Zafuan and Mauricio dos Santos are not known to be quick and thus they'll need to hold their line more carefully.
Stopping the creative fulcrum
While Mutch is the typical all-action midfielder, it is his central midfield partner in Young-jae who JDT have to be truly concerned about. He created two chances in the first meeting, with one of those turning out to be an assist for Kwak Tae-hwi. Young-dae has a good delivery on him and Gyeongnam rely on him to be a creative source as is shown by his 3/6 successful crosses in the first game.
Blocking the giant
At 1.86m, Tae-hwi is taller than La'Vere Corbin-Ong and Mauricio, so the physical presence of this former one-time winner of the ACL offers a huge threat to JDT. It was his towering header in the first game that gave Gyeongnam the lead. He won 4 out of 5 of his aerial duels and blocked 3 shots in the first game, showing that he is a big nuisance in attack and defence.
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