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AFC Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs. Becamex Binh Duong

Off the mark: Jeonbuk Hyundai striker Kim Shin-wook celebrates scoring on his league debut against FC Seoul, adding to his previous header against Jiangsu Suning in Asian Champions League. (Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
Off the mark: Jeonbuk Hyundai striker Kim Shin-wook celebrates scoring on his league debut against FC Seoul, adding to his previous header against Jiangsu Suning in Asian Champions League. (Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
After a record-breaking weekend, the Jeonju World Cup Stadium will play host to Vietnamese League winners Becamex Binh Duong on Tuesday evening. Jeonbuk Hyundai come into this Asian Champions League game on the back of an unexpected home victory against FC Seoul, where resolute defending and a Kim Shin-wook header ensured the K-League champions took all three of the points.

Choi Kang-hee sacrificed style for substance on Saturday, playing with a larger, more experienced back line. Motors have previously lined up in a more offensive 4-2-3-1 formation in their previous two ACL games however, so there is a possibility that the manager could opt to revert back to this, rotating his players in the process with an eye towards Sunday's game against Ulsan.

It would be foolish however to risk upsetting a defence who performed so admirably against FC Seoul. The exclusion of recent addition Lim Jong-eun proved beneficial, with Lee Ho and Choi Chul-soon joining Kim Hyung-il instead at centre back. As an offensive formation would probably require four at the back, I would be tempted to reconsider Choi Chul-soon partnering Kim Hyung-il again in the centre, with Park Won-jae and Kim Chang-soo adorning either flank. I also imagine Erik Paartalu starting again in defensive midfield to help protect the back line.

In regards to the rest of the team, Attacking options are still varying a lot at Jeonbuk as Choi Kang-hee both rotates his squad and also looks for his best eleven, thus making it difficult to predict who will be walking out of the tunnel come kick-off. I can see Lee Jae-sung and Kim Shin-wook to definitely keep their places in midfield and attack respectively, but other positions are open to change.

There is even the wild temptation to opt for a 4-4-2 seeing as Kim Shin-wook seems to operate much more effectively with someone to lay the ball off to up-front. His stint as a lone front man against Jiangsu Suning did not work out well, with Jeonbuk's best chances coming with the introduction of Lee Dong-gook to partner him in the second half. This was even enough to convince the manager to operate with both of them against FC Seoul and I feel he will wish to keep two strikers on to push the Binh Duong line back. Whether Lee Dong-gook has the fitness to play three games per week is another matter though, but with the likes of Lee Jong-ho itching for game time, their could be alternative options to make this work.

Ultimately, Jeonbuk have far more options to tinker with in attack than defence. They may decide to take control of the midfield with five men or opt to cause the Vietnamese team a headache with two attackers. Choi Kang-hee has apparently indicated that he will did not like his tactics in the first half against FC Seoul. With the vast number of attacking purchases he has made in the winter, he would be foolish to structure his formation in a defensive set up, especially as Binh Duong are likely to do the same. Three points here are crucial though to stay in control of their own destiny, so who knows what lengths he will go to come Tuesday.

Becamex Binh Duong

Becamex Binh Duong's Yoloya Moses competes for the ball against Jiangsu Suning captain Wu Xi in their surprising 1-1 draw in the Asian Champions League group stage. (Photo Credit: VietnamNews.vn)
Becamex Binh Duong's Moses Oloya competes for the ball against Jiangsu Suning captain Wu Xi in their surprising 1-1 draw in the Asian Champions League group stage. (Photo Credit: VietnamNews.vn)
Having started so well with a win in their opening league game, then earning a point against group favourites Jiangsu Suning, Binh Duong have proceeded to lose to FC Tokyo and collect one point from two winnable league games. Having pretty much held 1st place for all of last season in the V. League 1, it is safe to say they are struggling for form. This game will be of huge importance to them as they will look to take the focus of their stuttering start domestically. A loss to Jeonbuk though would seriously damage any hopes of progression to the knockout stages.

The Vietnamese champions are no strangers to Korea's North Jeolla province, having also drawn Jeonbuk in the group stages last year. While their 1-1 result in their home city of Thu Dau Mot saw Jeonbuk resigned to second place in the group, they were first well-beaten in Jeonju three goals to nil. They will certainly not be hoping for a repeat of that evening.

In terms of players who pose a threat, their star Senegalese striker Abass Chiekh Dieng is still yet to feature in 2016, currently awaiting a return from serious injury. It was Dieng that scored the equaliser against Jeonbuk in the away fixture last year, and his absence from this years campaign is evidently being felt by Binh Duong. There is no suggestion I can find that states he will make an appearance on Tuesday.

Ugandan right winger Oloya Moses (pictured) also poses a potential risk to Jeonbuk. Moses is a first team regular, featuring in nearly all of Binh Duong's games last season, offering creativity to the midfield, and has been linked with the likes of J-Leagues Kashiwa Reysol in the past.

Finally, Vietnam national team striker Nguyen Anh Duc also boasted an impressive goal record last season, and has also found himself on the scoresheet in both of the clubs Champions League games in 2016. He operated as a lone striker against FC Tokyo though and, despite his goal, was under supplied in terms of chances. Seeing as Binh Duong set up defensively against FC Tokyo and still conceded three goals from a winning position, things look promising for Jeonbuk's array of attacking talent.

Prediction

Jeonbuk are overwhelming favourites for this. The only doubts being what combination of attacking talent will Choi Kang-hee select this time, and whether the defence can hold up and not fold as they did against Jiangsu. I do not see the latter happening however, partly due to their much-improved performance on Saturday, and partly due to Binh Duong's current lack of offensive threat.

The Vietnamese champions are in poor form. A cold Tuesday evening away in Korea against the K-League holders is not the type of fixture they need right now to turn their form around. FC Tokyo easily brushed them aside and, if they are not careful, this game may become a repeat performance.

Predicted Score: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 3-0 Becamex Binh Duong

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