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Gwangju vs Busan: Preview

Four rounds left until the split, and both Gwangju and Busan should be preparing for the five-round blitz that follows. After a blistering start to the season, Gwangju has hit a bad run of form that has seen them drop down to 9th. Busan never really got going and has been floundering in 11th most of the year. The gap between the two currently stands at nine points, but Gwangju has a game in hand vs Seoul in two weeks. But if Busan has any hopes of escaping the relegation playoff spot, a win tomorrow versus Gwangju is a must.

Screen shot courtesy of busanipark.com

Busan News

Busan is coming off a high-energy draw with Suwon midweek. For me that makes it slightly harder to predict this weekend's starting XI. Three days should be enough for professional football players (particularly after coming off an extended break) to recover, but Iwamura, like Yoon Sung-hyo, seems to prefer to rotate when there are two games close together. However, since we're at the business end of the season perhaps he'll stick rather than twist with what seems to be his preferred XI.

Screen shot courtesy of busanipark.com

The above graphic (taken from busanipark.com) shows a possible XI. Will it happen? It seems possible. It is virtually the same XI that played midweek with two changes. Weslley is included ahead of Yoon Dong-min, and Yoo Ji-hoon is in ahead of Gu Hyun-joon. The only other possible changes would be potentially in goal, with Lee Bum-young possibly taking Lee Chang-geun's spot (depending on how the latter reacts to his mistake against Suwon), and maybe a rotation at centerback with Noh Haeng-seok more likely to drop out. But largely I think we'll see something similar.

Screen shot courtesy of kleague.com

Statistically the teams are similar. Both have scored 26 goals (10th overall). Busan has 16 assists to Gwangju's 14 (10th, 11th respectively). Busan has many more shots and shots on goal with 294 (7th) and 147 (7th) in those categories. Gwangju is bottom of the league there with 237 shots and 107 on target. The big difference is in the final category, goals conceded. Busan is 10th with 43 goals conceded. Gwangju is 4th having only conceded 29 goals thus far. Back to the point I've been harping on every post, if Busan's late goals conceded (76-90') was more along the lines of when they concede in other parts of the game (5-8 goals), then I suspect Busan would be much closer in the table to Gwangju and Ulsan.

Gwangju vs Busan the final matches

Screen shot courtesy of kleague.com
Besides the match against each other, Gwangju and Busan will round out their pre-split schedules against the following teams. Gwangju (on the left in the graphic above) will face Seongnam (3rd, away), Jeonbuk (1st, home), Suwon (2nd, home), and their make-up game against Seoul (4th, away). That's a brutal end of run schedule. Four games against the current top four sides. It's certainly possible that Gwangju picks up zero points from those matches.

Busan on the other hand (right side of the above graphic) will face Incheon (6th, away), Jeju (8th, home), and Pohang (5th, away). Not an easy schedule by any means, but points are possible. Jeju off the island have not been great (although they did beat Busan at the Asiad already this season), while Busan did snatch a win at the Steelyard early on. A win against Gwangju, plus 3+ points from those final three games could give Busan a half-chance (assuming Gwangju don't pick up any in their matches) at escaping the playoff spot.

Ulsan you ask? The horangi are away to Jeju (8th), and then face: Jeonnam (7th, home), Incheon (6th away), and Daejeon (12th, away). While Ulsan has been pretty poor all season, they should be able to at least match Busan in points earned in the last four matches, so it's hard to see the gap closing any.

The great escape?

Last season Busan flirted with relegation, but ultimately got out with a solid end-of-season run. Can that happen again? Perhaps, but it'll be harder this season with the gap already significantly big. If it's going to happen, it feels like it must start tomorrow against Gwangju.

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