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playoffs

Pohang vs Busan: Preview

The calm before the storm. The final round before split. Who makes the championship half? Who makes the relegation half? The drama of it all! Well, I imagine that's what league executives thought when they decided to do the split. Unfortunately that won't really be happening this season. 10 of the 12 spots are decided already with just Incheon and Jeju working out the final positions (Incheon should take it). Pohang and Busan have long been set on their respective courses. Pohang will easily make the top half, Busan has been set for the bottom half. So do these two have anything to play for? Of course!

Who: Pohang Steelers FC vs Busan IPark FC
When: Sunday, October 4, 2PM
Where: The Steelyard, Pohang, South Korea
Why: K League Classic, Round 33
TV/Stream: No TV, Streams on Daum, Naver, Afreeca

The glory days. Ahn Jung-hwan (left) and Hong Myung-bo (right).

Busan Team News

Very little to speak of. The only notable absence continues to be youngster Kim Jin-kyu who is off with the Korea U18 team at the AFC U19 Championship qualifiers. Unfortunately it looks like Kim Jin-kyu suffered a minor injury in the opener. Lee Chang-geun and Gu Hyun-joon also received call ups for the U22 Olympic team, but they should be available for this match.

Kim Jin-kyu. Photo courtesy of kleague.com
Expect a fairly normal lineup from Denis. Lee Chang-geun in goal. A backline of Park Joon-gang, Noh Haeng-seok, Lee Gyeong-ryeol, and Gu Hyun-joon. A three-man midfield of Joo Se-jong, Jeon Sung-chan, and Lee Gyu-sung. A three-man attack of Bae Chun-seok, Weslley, and either Choi Kwang-hee or Yoon Dong-min.

Possible Busan starting XI.

Pohang Team News


Pohang similarly has little big news surrounding it. They continue to be without talented young midfielder Moon Chang-jin due to injury, and Park Sung-ho will miss this one due to suspension, but otherwise should field a fairly strong XI. Longtime custodian Shin Hwa-yong will be in goal. The back four will likely be: Park Sun-yong, Kim Won-il, Bae Seul-gi, and Choi Jae-su. Talented youngster (and strangely overlooked by NT bosses) Son Joon-ho and Hwang Ji-su should be the double-pivot. Pohang can play either a 4-2-3-1 or a more 4-2-4 shape depending on which attackers they field. Kim Seung-dae and Ko Mu-yeol should be two of the attackers. After that it's a bit of a toss up. Tiago plays fairly regularly as does Shim Dong-woon.


Thoughts

Despite being set in their spots for now both have something to play for. Pohang is fighting for the final ACL spot as they currently sit in 3rd. They're just four points adrift of Suwon, but just two clear of Seongnam and Seoul. With "six-pointers" in the final five rounds, collecting three points here is vital. Busan has little hope of catching Gwangju for 10th, but a rare away win over Pohang (did it earlier this season) could give the team a much needed confidence boost going into the final five rounds and the (likely) playoff match.


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