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Writers' Chat: Busan vs Suwon Preview

Second-Placed Suwon Bluewings travel to second-from-bottom Busan on Wednesday. Jae Chee and K-League Football's Steve Price discuss the upcoming match.

Steve's questions to Jae:

Steve Price: With Busan not beating a club outside of the bottom three since May, do they have any chance of beating Suwon?

Jae Chee: On paper it looks quite bleak, and I’d put Busan’s chances at less than 5%. Despite the gulf in quality between the sides, Suwon hasn’t soundly beaten Busan in a few years particularly at the Asiad. This will be the third meeting between the two, with Suwon eeking out a last minute winner at the Big Bird in the first match, and then the two drawing more recently in Busan. I don’t see Busan winning it, but holding them to a draw may be possible.

SP: Who would you prefer to face in the relegation play-off (if it came to that)? Daegu, Suwon FC, or Eland?

JC: Ha, well hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but if I had to choose I suppose I’d pick Daegu. I think E-Land has the strongest attack and in a playoff that could be too much for goal shy Busan. Suwon FC seems to be getting on a roll with their new summer signings, and remind a bit like Gwangju last season. Weak on paper, but in form. Daegu relies on their defense, and I fancy Busan’s chances better in a low scoring affair.

SP: How is Wesley doing this year? I remember at Gangwon he was a bit unpredictable and liked to do everything by himself, is that still the case?

JC: Broadly speaking I’d say yes, but with the caveat that given how little Busan generally sees the ball and attacks it’s less obvious. Sometimes that unpredictably comes in handy given he’s often isolated and can create something, but on occasion he does tend to waste potentially dangerous situations by taking on a man too many or shooting from a bad position.

SP: What changes has Iwamura made to the team? Can he turn the team around or are the problems bigger than that?

JC: Iwamura hasn’t made too many changes to the side. The most notable thing seems to be that he manages the game more aggressively than Yoon Hyo-sung did. Iwamura will make more aggressive substitutions when behind for example. I don’t think Iwamura can turn this season around simply because I think the problems with the squad run deeper than he can cope with. The lack of quality, particularly in attack, is something that tactics and team selection just simply can’t overcome.

SP: The last game (against Jeonnam) got off to an exciting start, can we expect that against Suwon?

JC: Probably not. I suspect that Busan will take a slightly more conservative approach to this match (despite being at home), so a fast goal probably won’t happen. To be honest I’d prefer it not to happen either (strange as it sounds) as when it does Busan becomes incredibly conservative and invites pressure for the rest of the game.

SP: Which player should we be keeping our eye on in this match?

JC: Midfielder Joo Se-jong has been the team’s most consistent performer this season, but the one to watch (since he’s young) is Kim Jin-kyu. Kim Jin-kyu has become a regular feature for Busan starting at the end of Yoon’s tenure and continuing into Iwamura’s. He doesn’t always start, but will almost always feature at some point. He still has a lot of growing and work to do, but he helps Busan’s offense click more.

Jae's questions to Steve: 

Jae Chee: Suwon seems to already be in a “safe zone” of sorts. Nine behind Jeonbuk and six ahead of Seongnam and Seoul. Do they have the necessary motivation to keep going and stay ahead of their chasing rivals?

Steve Price: The title is definitely Jeonbuk’s to lose, but their form is a bit shaky at the moment and with one mind on the ACL, Suwon will be hoping that they lose focus. With all the six-pointers that will be coming up after the split, I wouldn’t write Suwon off just yet. They are still outsiders but whilst the title is mathematically possible I don’t think they will be throwing in the towel. That said, they haven’t been too convincing against the league’s better teams recently.

JC:  The K League’s, and arguably Korea’s, breakout player this year is Kwon Chang-hoon. How has he been so successful for club and country?

SP: He is having a great season but he was always seen as a good prospect for Suwon. His touch under-pressure is exceptional and he makes the game look easy at times. It is good that Stielike has given him a chance to show what he can do for the national team. At just 21 years old, I expect he has a big future ahead of him.

JC: Suwon has suffered a number of injuries, including to key players like Jung Sung-ryong and Kim Eun-sun, how have they managed to cope with all the absences?

SP: Is Jung Sung-Ryong a key player? I think they’ve actually been struggling recently due to the sale of Jong Tae-Se. His hold-up play was exceptional and under-rated. People just look at the number of goals scored when judging a striker but Tae-Se was really good at bringing his team-mates into the game. Hopefully Mitsanski can be a good long-term replacement for him, and he has decent pedigree, but it is too early to say at the moment.

JC: A long term question. Seo Jung-won has been manager for three years now, and Suwon hasn’t hit the heights their demanding fans expect. Out of Asia again, unlikely to win the league (and not really challenging for it). Is Seo Jung-won the man for the Bluewings or will a change at the top be in order?

SP: There’s also issues like budget cut-backs to deal with apparently, and Jeonbuk have been so good over the last few seasons it’s difficult for anyone to compete with them. If Suwon keep finishing in the top two and reaching the knockout rounds of the ACL then Seo should stay. Managers get sacked too easily these days.

JC: Suwon will be missing Kwon Chang-hoon and Hong Chul who are off with the national team. How do you see this game panning out?

SP: Second against second-from-bottom looks like an easy win for Suwon on paper. I think that it will finish as a typical nil-nil draw, with Jeonbuk winning one-nil at Ulsan due to a last minute penalty.

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