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Ulsan-Busan R8 Preview

Busan take their horrible run of form on the road as they make the (relatively) short trip up the Busan-Ulsan Highway to Ulsan to take on the Horangi.

Who: Ulsan Hyundai FC vs Busan IPark FC
When: Saturday, April 25, 4pm
Where: Ulsan Munsu World Cup Stadium, Ulsan, South Korea
Why: K League Classic, Round 8
Broadcasts: Naver, Daum, Afreeca


Busan Team News

Struggling. The team has the worst form of all 12 Classic teams, as they've lost their last five games. Performances have not been good overall, and to be honest, they don't really look like improving any time soon. Busan has struggled to score, especially from open play. In their five game losing run the team has scored just four goals, with three coming from set pieces and the fourth being a bit fortunate as a goal kick from Lee Bum-young found Weslley who scored.

The team has also struggled to find defensively solidity, Ahn Il-soo's "suffocation tactics" have long been forgotten. 10 goals shipped in the five game losing streak, after not conceding any in the first two (admittedly one of those teams was Daejeon). The change to the three-man defense last season helped stiffen things up, but it hasn't looked so solid this season. Nilson Junior has seesawed between solid to a liability, Lee Gyeong-ryeol has been okay, and Noh Haeng-seok hasn't impressed since arriving from Daegu. Kim Chan-young has been brought back in in place of Lee GR or Noh HS, but hasn't added any more solidity (maybe we can convince Suwon to loan us Yeon Je-min again?). Also slightly oddly, Yoon Sung-hyo has seen it fit to drop keeper Lee Bum-young for the last three games in favor of U23 keeper Lee Chang-geun. Lee Bum-young is not injured as far as I know, and Yoon was asked about it after the Seongnam match and said it was tactical. Perhaps with the U23 AFC Championship coming up, Yoon is trying to give Lee CG some playing time/exposure? Anway . . .

Midfield and forward have been a bit more settled. Joo Se-jong, red card against Suwon notwithstanding, has probably been Busan's best overall player thus far. Yoo Ji-no over at LWB has been decent (although not quite up to Jang Hak-young standard). The right side has been a bit more iffy. Hong Dong-hyun, Jeon Chun-seok, and Kim Yong-tae have all been tried with Joo SJ and none have really settled it. Yoo Ji-hoon has been the normal RWB, but lately we've seen a return of former U-23 player Park Joon-gang. Up top, Park Yong-ji has been a regular, and Weslley seems to have replaced his Brazilian compatriot Bergson in the pecking order. The change from two to three forwards has seen 'kkot-minam' Han Ji-ho see more playing time.

Predicted XI vs Ulsan


Ulsan Team News

Struggling too, but not as bad as Busan. After winning three of their first four, Ulsan has been held to three straight draws, two of which were against two of the bottom three (still with me?). Can Busan make that four straight draws? (Probably not)

Unlike Busan, Ulsan has shown quite a bit of defensively solidity (just five conceded) and has not done a whole lot of rotating (maybe related?). Asian Games hero Lim Chang-woo has started every game at right back. Lee Jae-sung (no, not the attacking midfielder) has started every game at center back. Kim Geun-hwan has been his most common parter (five starts). Jeong Dong-ho was the normal left back, but an injury while on national team duty has seen him replaced by Lee Myeong-jae. In goal, Kim Seung-gyu has started every game.

Midfield has also been fairly consistent. Ha Sung-min and Server Djeparov have started every game, with Tarta, Kim Tae-hwan, and Masuda Chikasi playing regularly. Unless Yoon Jung-hwan wants to give someone a rest, those five should start against Busan. Up top, former Busan forward Yang Dong-hyun should get the nod ahead of a stuttering Kim Shin-wook. It's possible though that Yoon JH may go more 4-4-2 with a midfielder (likely Masuda) dropping out and both Yang Dh and Kim SW starting. 

Predicted XI vs Busan


Thoughts and Keys to the Game

Busan's official preview is listing the 3-4-3 formation used lately, but it may be a better idea to revert back to the 3-5-2 seen earlier in the year. Busan has never been a side for possession, but using a two-man midfield against a three-man midfield would be slightly suicidal. It would seem like Busan would have a better chance if they attempted to really clog the midfield and stifle Ulsan's more creative players and isolate their less mobile (both Yang DH and Kim SW) forwards. In this version of the team, Weslley would drop out for another midfielder, and Busan would look to play on the break using Park Yong-ji and Han Ji-ho's pace.

Ulsan needs to just stay calm and be patient. Busan has a bad habit of conceding late goals, so Ulsan must always think they will have chances to score even if they don't come early on.

This is a game that Ulsan, particularly being at home, should win and win comfortably. However, for viewers looking for fluid, attacking football, this may be one to avoid. Busan has rarely shown much flair, and Yoon Jung-hwan's teams - both Ulsan and his Sagan Tosu side - were notable more for their solidity than their expressiveness. 

(Always wrong) Prediction: Ulsan 2 - 0 Busan

Historical Stats
Busan form guide - L L L L L
Ulsan form guide - D D D W D

Last year
4/6: Busan 0-0 Ulsan
5/11: Ulsan 3-0 Busan
9/13: Busan 1-3 Ulsan

Historical
Ulsan 52 wins - 43 draws - Busan 52 wins

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