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Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Suwon FC

Can Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors build on their impressive showings at home with a win against Suwon FC this weekend? (Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)
Can Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors build on their impressive showings at home with a win against Suwon FC this weekend? (Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)
After failing to win away yet again, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors return to Jeonju this weekend to play host to one of the K-Leagues surprise packages this season, Suwon FC. With a potentially season-defining clash on the midweek horizon, will manager Choi Kang-hee opt to risk his best eleven for this fixture?

Whilst still unbeaten and finding themselves in second, Jeonbuk look to be flying high on paper. Prior to the Sangju Sangmu performance, they also looked as if they were finally finding the champions-like mentality and professionalism expected of them.

All of this was thrown out of the window however with five players rotated into the squad for last weekend's game, with what are almost becoming predictable results. After taking the lead twice through two Han Kyo-won strikes (earning him a place in the K-League team of the week), Sangju Sangmu responded to each one, earning an unexpected point for their efforts.

It is unknown whether or not Kim Shin-wook will be available to pick for this round after sustaining a thigh injury that ruled him out of last weekend’s game. If he is available, he will only feature if Choi Kang-hee has set his full focus on the game against Jiangsu Suning, resting Lee Dong-gook.

The Saturday prior to the FC Tokyo game (a team I expect them to redeploy against Jiangsu), he played a similar team, almost as a practice run. I would suggest the same here but, knowing his uncontrollable urge to rotate, that would most likely mean a “weaker” team against Suwon Bluewings the following weekend. Seeing as that game is away though, and the manager tends to be more conservative on the road, a rotated team for next week could be what he goes with.

Therefore, the most likely players in the starting eleven, besides keeper Kwoun Sun-tae, will be Choi Chul-soon, Lim Jong-eun, Choi Kyu-baek and Kim Chang-soo left to right across the back, with the central midfield comprised of Kim Bo-kyung, Lee Jae-sung and Jang Yun-ho. If, as I predict, the manager is to play his strongest line-up as a warm-up for Wednesday, expect Leonardo and Lopes to occupy either wing with Lee Dong-gook up top. If there will be any alteration to this, it will most likely be the wings, with the in-form Han Kyo-won coming in, most likely for Lopes.

Suwon FC

A familiar face: ex-Jeonbuk and Korean National Team player Lee Seung-hyun returns to face his former club this weekend. (Photo credit: Korea Football News Twitter)
Tipped for relegation before the season commenced, Suwon FC have gone on to give a spirited display in nearly all of their fixtures, only losing once to current title favourites FC Seoul. Last year’s play-off winners have only taken the one victory as well, mostly earning draws against teams also in the low end of the table, though their opening home game did see a memorable 1-1 draw against a high-flying Seongnam team in front of record crowds.

Against foot-of-the-table Incheon, they were perhaps disappointing, providing Incheon with their third point and their third consecutive draw of the season. Whilst having the majority of attacking play, they were unable to test a fairly obliging Incheon keeper. Most of their shots were from long range and off target. They will definitely view it as two points dropped.

In terms of key players, Suwon FC have a tendency to play nearly all four of their foreign signings. Of these, attacker Marvin Ogunjimi has perhaps the most experience, playing in the top Belgian league for Genk amongst others, as well as stints in the Netherlands and Spain, for most of his career. That being said, he has only made two starts for Suwon, with the rumour being he was not fit enough at the start of the season. Despite this, he has managed to get on the scoresheet twice in recent weeks, although he has only completed ninety minutes once, in Suwon's 3-0 defeat to FC Seoul. He last broke double figures in his goal tally five seasons ago so I doubt the fans are getting too carried away but his form, if recaptured, could prove crucial in ensuring Suwon FC a second season of top flight football.

Their two ever-present foreign defenders however, Australian Adrian Leijer and Montenegrin Vladin Adzic are far more reliable. The former spent most of his career at A-League's Melbourne Victory before a one-season stint in China and then joining Suwon in the winter. The latter has been part of the Suwon set up for over two seasons now and proved important in the team's promotion chase last year.

Finally, Saturday will see the return of a familiar face. Former Jeonbuk midfielder Lee Seung-hyun has featured in every game for Suwon FC this year and has also claimed two goals. The midfielder joined Jeonbuk back in 2011 and often featured for two seasons, most notably including a late substitute appearance for the team that finished runners-up in the 2011 ACL, coming off the bench to score a 90th minute equaliser in the final before the team eventually lost on penalties.

After two years on loan to Sangju Sangmu to complete his military duties, Lee Seung-hyun returned to Jeonbuk in late 2014 and was never able to reestablish his position in the team, making only five league starts for Motors since his return. While the Jeonbuk support will wish him well based on his previous endeavours at the club, the now 30 year-old will be itching to show the Champions what they are missing this weekend.


Jeonbuk have struggled against teams in the lower end of the table, offer finding uncreative ways to break them down or by fielding weaker teams. They have also managed to scrape by at home and, despite not winning by more than a single goal in the league this year, have managed to find enough for wins against FC Seoul, Jeju and Seongnam in front of their own crowds. I therefore imagine something similar to happen here, with a moment of attacking brilliance (see Lee Dong-gook or Kim Bo-kyung) to settle it late on.

Whilst Suwon have managed to edge out points, the champions should have too much for them here. I expect Suwon to go down fighting as they will not be naive enough to be walked over again in the style that FC Seoul saw to them.

Predicted Score: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-1 Suwon FC

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