The leaderboard at the beginning of the 2023 season of the professional football K League 1 is in the opposite direction from last season. The promoted teams climbed to the top of the league with offensive football, while the traditional masters continued to slump and fell to the bottom.
Daejeon Hana Citizen and Gwangju FC, 메이저놀이터which were promoted to the K-League 1 this season, are creating a sensation in the early season with their attacking football. Daejeon is 3rd in the league with 4 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss (14 points), capturing the defending champion Ulsan Hyundai. Although it is still early in the season, they have recorded the most goals (16 goals) and are chasing second place Pohang FC by one point. Gwangju also ranked 5th with 4 wins and 3 losses (12 points), showing the potential of a promoted team.
The secret is the ‘dakgong’ strategy that does not back down. This season, Daejeon and Gwangju are showing off bold attacking football, scoring enough goals to offset many conceded goals.
Daejeon took attack soccer as the direction of the team. In the game against Ulsan, which was won on the 16th, even special instructions were issued from coach Lee Min-seong. Coach Lee said, “I told the players not to play ‘protective football’. He emphasized active play, saying, “I told you to be aggressive even if you lose, and eventually succeeded in catching Ulsan.
The same goes for other games. Daejeon scored a whopping 16 goals until the 7th round, rising to the top scorer in the league. Of course, there are many flaws. Daejeon gave up 12 points to the opposing team during the same period, recording the second most goals after Suwon Samsung (13 goals), the lowest in the league.
What underpins Daejeon’s offensive football is ‘fast speed’. According to the activity data released by the Korea Professional Football Federation, Daejeon players were named in all but 4th place among the top 5 players in the fastest speed category. In particular, Seo Young-jae recorded a top speed of 35.67 km/h in the third round against the Pohang Steelers and 34.91 km/h in the first round against Gangwon FC, taking first and second places in speed.
Gwangju also has a strategy of covering many goals with 12 goals and 9 goals. Gwangju is also the only team that has not recorded a draw as of the 7th round.
On the other hand, traditional strong players are not using their strength. Jeonbuk Hyundai and Suwon Samsung are typical examples. Jeonbuk, which has the most wins in the K-League, is in 9th place with 2 wins, 1 draw and 4 losses, while Suwon is at the bottom with 2 draws and 5 losses. In particular, Jeonbuk is going downhill, overlapping with the unexpected sluggish performance and the ‘cheering boycott’ incident.
Gangwon, which was Final A last season, is also struggling with 3 draws and 4 losses. Gangwon is unbeaten with Suwon.