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Writers Chat: Jeonbuk Hyundai vs Busan IPark Preview

Jae-hyeok Lee (Busan) and Korean Lex (Jeonbuk) get together to chat about the upcoming match between Jeonbuk and Busan. They ponder transfers, effects of the East Asian Cup, form, ACL rabbits, and psychology.

He asks, I answer...

Korean Lex: Busan is coming off 4 points in their last two games, after not winning a game in the previous 8 rounds. have they made changes that can carry over into the Jeonbuk game, or were they just watching Rocky movie highlights to get pumped up before those two matches.

Jae-hyeok Lee: Probably a little bit of both, but more of the latter than the former. While the draw with Suwon was a solid result (you’re welcome by the way Jeonbuk), three of those four points came from beating rock bottom Daejeon. It’s worth remembering that Daejeon had lost five straight going into the match versus Busan, and hadn’t won a game since late April. Not exactly impressive opposition.  That being said, Busan has benefited from their transfer moves and internal promotions. Youngster Kim Jin-kyu (Busan youth), while having lots of room to grow, has added a touch of creativity higher up the pitch in central midfield, and allows Joo Se-jong to play his more natural role a bit deeper. Kim Dong-seob (from Seongnam) isn’t the best of finishers, but he’s an upgrade on the ineffective Bergson.

Two big names leave Jeonbuk, and three come in... What's the key to keeping Luiz quiet in the middle, as well as a hungry Lee Keun-ho and Urko Vera up front?

JHL: It’s not my favorite style of playing, but the best hope for Busan is probably to park the bus and crowd the box and the central area just in front. Lee Gyeong-ryeol and Noh Haeng-seok are a bit slow of foot, but they’re strong and good in the air. Busan tends to play with three central midfielders, and I imagine they’ll have directions to play deeper and more conservative. From my observations, Jeonbuk is very strong in attack, but a little lighter in terms of creative central midfielders. Busan’s best chance of keeping those attackers quiet is to deny them the ball in dangerous areas, which likely means closing off the space and denying balls into those areas.

KL: Lee Bum-young is away at the East Asian Cup, but will be eligible for Wednesday's game... Does he play and how important is the keeper in this match?

JHL: It’s certainly possible he’ll play since the trip from China isn’t too long, and it seems unlikely he’ll have any fatigue since he didn't actually play at the East Asian Cup. However, it’s also certainly possible that reserve keeper Lee Chang-geun could start as well. Former boss Yoon Sung-hyo showed faith in the 21-year old stopper, always handing him several starts over the past few seasons, including the first Busan-Jeonbuk match this season. Of course, Yoon is gone now, and I’m not sure if interim manager Denis Iwamura shares that belief in Lee Chang-geun.

The keeper will be important of course. Busan is usually at the bottom of the league in terms of average possession, while Jeonbuk is usually at the top in both possession and shots. Whichever Lee is in goal they should expect to be busy. It’s unfortunate I can’t combine Lee Bum-young’s physical size with Lee Chang-geun’s greater athleticism. You’d like Lee Chang-geun to deal with the open play shots, but prefer Lee Bum-young’s size when dealing with set pieces. Anyway, to answer the question I think Lee Bum-young will probably slot straight back in, but I wouldn't be shocked to see Lee Chang-geun.

KL: If you have the last 5 minutes with the team before they took the field, what message would you put in the players heads to get the W on the road?

JHL: Unfortunately I’ve never been very good with the psychological aspect of the game. I suppose I would stress the importance of positional discipline, teamwork, and communication. In my head I know Busan can’t go toe-to-toe with Jeonbuk, so telling them to “go for it” or “push them high up” would be a mistake. However, I would maybe try to find some “locker room material” to show how no one thinks Busan will win, and hope that it can take off some pressure and allow the players to play more comfortably. Like I said, not great with the psych stuff.

I ask, he answers....

Jae-hyeok Lee: Jeonbuk was in the headlines for their transfers this summer. Edu and Eninho left while the club signed Luiz Henrique, Urko Vera, and Lee Keun-ho. Two part question: A) Is Jeonbuk stronger now than they were before the window? B) How does Choi Kang-hee fit Luiz Henrique, Urko Vera, and Lee Keun-ho into an attack that also features Lee Dong-gook, Leonardo, and Lee Jae-sung?

Korean Lex: Yes and no. Edu was the league leading scorer so without him, you would have to say the offense is a little weaker at the top position. However, Jeonbuk has a handful of players with multiple goals, and should have more in transition as Eninho admitted that he was slacking in the middle and Luiz's strong point is to collect and receive. Jeonbuk has been looking for a "Luiz like player" since he left, and now that he is back, you have to think that it is the missing piece of the puzzle for why Jeonbuk isn't further ahead in the league.

To answer Question 1.2 it is simple, he doesn't. I still don't think both new strikers Lee Keun-ho and Vera make the field. Choi Kang-hee was showing quite of a bit of emotion towards Lee Keun-ho during the halftime ceremony against Suwon last round. Although they haven't crossed paths on the same bench in the league before, Choi Kang-hee has coached him during his 18 month stint as the Nation Team coach. The rotation will probably not include Lee Jae-sung now either coming back so soon from the East Asian Cup.
JHL: Jeonbuk currently has a comfortable 10 point gap between them and second-place Suwon, but the Asian Champions League will be back soon and Jeonbuk has a tricky two-leg tie with Gamba Osaka. Choi Kang-hee had said that "of the two rabbits, he'd chase the ACL one", suggesting any rotation would lean towards ACL matches. Any concern Suwon could sneak back into the title race while Jeonbuk pursues continental ambitions?

KL: Jeonbuk didn't show up for their FA Cup match at Pohang when they go knocked out as it wasn't a priority at the time. For that reason and that reason only, I would say Busan has a chance to get at least a point off Jeonbuk. Jeonbuk has tons of defenders, the key would be to get the right guys paired together, almost as if it were "line changes" in hockey. If he is serious about building up for the ACL,  we could see the likes of Lee Keun-ho or Vera coming on up front over the next three games, yet unless there is an injury Lee Dong-gook with be more than likely up top in the 4 Kleague games and 2 ACL games coming up. Personally, Lee Dong-gook knows the Gamba defense and should be rested for those games after the Jeonnam game, with Luiz and Lee Jae-sung needing to get used to playing balls  to Lee Keun-ho and Vera.  

This is the third meeting this season between Jeonbuk and Busan. The first two both ended 2-1 to Jeonbuk, but Busan made them sweat a bit. In the first game it was an 87' winner by Leonardo. In the second it was an 88' penalty by Lee Dong-gook. Is there anything in particular that Busan does that makes life a bit more difficult for Jeonbuk or were they just two off games for the green machine?

KL: Expect another close game, no matter which way it goes. Jeonbuk hasn't scored more than 2 goals at home in league play all year. I don't see the goals raining in the game either as the players have more than likely been cooped up in their meca of a training center going over the same things in practice. Instead of a horse out of the gates, I think we will see a more mellow game with lack of creativity. 
JHL: Final (obvious) question. First game after the East Asian Cup break, how does this one pan out?

KL: 2-1 to Jeonbuk would not surprise me in the least bit. If I can be bold, I will say it's going to come down to a defensive error on Jeonbuk's fault to give up the clean sheet, and 2 goals from a set piece.

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