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Busan vs Gwangju preview

The split and round 34 is upon us, and the first match of the weekend is none other than Busan vs Gwangju. Probably not one for the casual fan, as it's a match between the league's 11th and 10th placed teams, as well as two sides in rather terrible form. Busan has picked up just two points from their last five matches while Gwangju has picked up just one point from five matches. Neither side has won during that period. Yet there are, for Busan fans especially, good reasons to watch this one.

Match Facts
Who: Busan IPark FC vs Gwangju FC
When: Saturday, October 17, 2015, 2pm KST K/O
Where: Busan Main Asiad Stadium, Busan, South Korea
Why: K League Classic Round 34
TV/Stream: TV-none, Stream-Naver/Daum/Afreeca

Screenshot courtesy of busanipark.com

Choi Young-joon takes control

In case you missed it, over the international break Busan did announce that they have hired a new full-time manager. That man is Choi Young-joon. Choi is probably not well known to most (me as well), as he's always worked as an assistant coach or youth team manager. Most recently he worked on the KFA's technical committee with the youth section. Supposedly this is why Busan went for him, they believe he can help "find" the next Lee Jeong-hyeob (more on him in a bit), Lee Chang-geun, or Gu Hyun-joon.

This match will be the first one with Choi on the bench, so that in and of itself makes this game worth checking out. I wouldn't expect too many big changes to the side given the relatively short time he's had to work with them, but we could see some small changes in personnel and formation. I can't claim to know what style and formation Choi likes to use, so it will be interesting to see the teamsheet. Former interim boss Denis has resumed his coaching role with the team, so I imagine he will still have a fair bit of influence on selection and tactics for now.

photo courtesy of busanipark.com

Lee Jeong-hyeon returns

The other big news over the break was the return of "Goonderella" (군데렐라) Lee Jeong-hyeob. Lee, who shot to national fame due to being a part of last January's Asian Cup team, finished his compulsory military service last Monday, and has rejoined the team. Unfortunately he is still recovering from a cheekbone fracture he sustained in August (I think) during a match between Sangju and Gyeongnam. The team, at least through media promotions, is heavily pushing Lee as a "savior" of sorts for Busan, which I assume to mean that the team believes that Lee will play at some point before the end of the season. He will not play this week, but you can try and get his autograph before the match should you like.

photo courtesy of busanipark.com

 National team members return

No players were selected for the senior side, but three were involved over the break. Lee Chang-geun and Gu Hyun-joon both featured in the Korea Olympic team's 2-1 win over the Australia Olympic team, and Kim Jin-kyu featured in a couple matches for the Korea U18 team in their AFC Championship qualification.

Lee Chang-geun played the first half of the match versus Australia, and kept the Socceroos out and played quite well. Gu Hyun-joon had an average showing at left back, and was subbed out in the 72'. Kim Jin-kyu started (and was named team captain) in the U18's first match, but he suffered a small injury and had to be withdrawn earlier. Kim featured again later in the qualification run, but not significantly.

I'm not sure what Kim Jin-kyu's status is, but certainly Lee Chang-geun and Gu Hyun-joon should be fit and available for selection.

The Match

Busan form: L L L D D

Gwangju form: L L L L D

Prior 2015 meetings
3/21: Busan 2-3 Gwangju
5/24: Gwangju 0-1 Busan
9/13: Gwangju 0-0 Busan

Only a small bit hangs on this match. A Busan win technically keeps their hopes of avoiding the relegation playoff alive (and drag Gwangju a tiny bit closer), but realistically Busan won't be able to avoid it regardless of whether they win or not. The gap currently stands at 11 points, and with 15 to play for Busan would need to be virtually perfect and Gwangju would need to lose almost every match. Impossible? No, but certainly unlikely. Perhaps our former club president (and current KFA president) Chung Mong-gyu can give us, ahem, a little hand from above? I joke of course, but that's probably what it would take for us to escape our current predicament. Just to round out the thought, a Busan win would cut the gap to eight with 12 points to play for. Unfortunately for Busan three of the last four will be on the road (gulp) with only Jeonnam coming to visit.

I don't think there's anything to say about Gwangju. The team has really fallen from their early season form that saw them catch the league by surprise. Young midfielder Lee Chan-dong has been the one to watch, and will likely continue to be for the rest of the season. The Gwangju attack is capable of putting a goal, and Busan shouldn't be too loose of course.

I expect Busan to win this one. The team has more on the line than our southwest rivals, and hopefully being at home with a new boss will give them a bit of a kick up the backside.

Prediction: Busan 2-1 Gwangju

승리하라 부산!

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