Ulsan Hyundai will be doing their utmost to outperform previous South Korean entrants Pohang Steelers who finished third in 2009 and become the first team from Asia to make the final of the competition.
It is their inaugural appearance in the competition and after winning the 2012 AFC Champions League hope is high of a successful campaign on their tournament debut.
The team plays with a fixed tactic. The popular 4-2-3-1 of the World Cup in 2010 is still very much in use by the Korean side who operate it brilliantly. They key lies in the two holding midfield players. Lee Ho, formerly of Zenit Saint Petersburg, is the lynchpin of the side. Controlling the tempo going forward and back he is ably assisted by their midfield disrupter Juan Estiven. The Colombian is more than happy to do the dirty work in the middle of the park working tirelessly to regain possession and is the starting point of many an Ulsan attack.
What an attack it is as well. Not many of the teams outside of Chelsea and Corinthians will have a more potent attacking force then that of Ulsan Hyundai. The key to that is Lee Keun-Ho, 2012’s Asian Footballer of the Year. Like Ho and defender Lee Jae-Seong he is expected to report for military service the day after the final so will hope to leave a lasting memory of his talents in the minds of European suitors before he embarks on his challenge. The first thing he possesses is an abundance of pace. With and without the ball he often glides past the opposition. The other thing he has is great support.
First there is the target-man, Ulsan striker Kim Shin-Wook is a Korean international and at a towering 196 metres in height is a potent threat in aerial situations.
Then there are the fellow midfield playmakers. Rafinha has been out on loan from Brazilian side Nacional at several clubs since 2004 and after an impressive 2011-12 with Japanese outfit Gamba Osaka he was snapped up by Ulsan to help them in their pursuit of glory. He has been used from either the right or left hand side often interchanging with Lee and Kim Seung-Yong. Another former Gamba Osaka player he has become a vital member of their starting line-up.
They have defensive solidity in club and international captain Kwak Tae-Hi and the goalkeeper is also an international, Kim Young-Kwang.
All in all they are a very talented team who will push Monterrey of Mexico all the way in pursuit of a date with Corinthians in the semi-finals.
What do you make of Ulsan Hyundai and their chances?
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