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playoffs

Preview: Gwangju FC vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Defiant: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors celebrate returning from two goals down to overturn Sangju Sangmu and top the league. (Photo Credit: Jeonbuk Official Facebook Page)
Defiant: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors celebrate returning from two goals down to overturn Sangju Sangmu and top the league. (Photo Credit: Jeonbuk Official Facebook Page)
After a scare against Sangju Sangmu last Sunday, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors travel down to play their game in hand against Gwangju FC this week. With both teams on winning streaks coming into this fixture, it will be interesting to see who eventually folds when they meet on Sunday.

In a game many expected them to dominate, Jeonbuk took sixty minutes to kick into gear against a resilient Sangju Sangmu last week. Two goals down and with a one man advantage though, the Jeonju-based side replied with three well executed goals from Leonardo, Choi Kyu-baek and Lopes to ensure they claimed their fourth consecutive K-League win.

It could be argued tiredness was a factor before the game, with manager Choi Kang-hee naming a rare unchanged eleven from that which defeated Melbourne Victory midweek, however to see this as an excuse for Jeonbuk's first hour lethargy would be more than gracious.

It should also be mentioned this was the third time in a row Jeonbuk came from behind in a league game to secure all three points. Their ability to fightback will stand them in good stead during their title run in, even if there should be concern as to why they keep going behind in the first place.

This Saturday, the Jeonbuk manager will be unable to field favoured attacking midfielder Lee Jae-sung as well as young defender Choi Kyu-baek who have both been called up to the Korean senior and U23 national squads respectively. Lee Jae-sung will most likely be replaced with defensive midfielder Jang Yun-ho, with Kim Bo-kyung taking over the former's responsibilities in linking the play up with the attack.

The replacement for Choi Kyu-baek is not as simple however as the defence has been less frequently altered in recent games in a bid to aid stability. Seeing as Jeonbuk have not kept a clean sheet in the last nine league games, it is arguable whether that is working, even if Choi Kyu-baek has been playing well for his debut season. Based on his recent start against Jeonnam, in addition to being on the bench for seven league games, it is likely the gap will be plugged by the 22 year-old Kim Young-chan who has made three appearances so far this season.

Gwangju FC

Gwangju come into this game in sixth place and on a winning run of three matches. That said, the visit of Jeonbuk provides a challenge that has so far proved insurmountable. The southern city team are yet to beat the current champions in their, albeit brief, history.

In their ranks, Gwangju FC boast one of the league's top scorers in Jung Jo-gook. The ex-FC Seoul man has now scored seven league goals this season, and now sits five off his all-time record with most of the season still ahead of him. Having fallen out of favour in the capital, and with high competition for attacking places, this move could see the 32 year-old rekindle the form that once saw him earn a move to France's Ligue 1 way back in 2010

Gwangju's earlier defensive frailties also coincided with the changing of their keeper. For the first five games Choi Bong-jin was between the sticks, overseeing one 3-3 draw, an unlikely win over Jeju and then three consecutive losses to Suwon FC, Ulsan and Seoul. Since Yoon Bo-sang has moved from the bench to take up the position, the last six games have seen Gwangju only lose to Seongnam, draw against Suwon Bluewings, and win against Jeonnam, Sangju, Incheon and Suwon FC. The last three games have also seen him keep three clean sheets. While it may not have just been Choi Bong-jin at fault for some of their goals, the statistics post his removal are pretty damning.

Predictions

With both sides in good form, and Jeonbuk not only missing two first team players but also not having the strongest away record, this could have all the makings of a draw. However, Jeonbuk's resilience is showing through with each passing week and I do not expect Gwangju to be the team to derail their momentum.

Predicted Score: Gwangju FC 1-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Have Your Say

What are your predictions for Saturday's 7pm kick-off? Vote in our Twitter poll and leave your comments below!

2 comments

  1. It is good to see Jung Jo-gook doing well, but the player to watch out for I think will be Kim Min-hyeok. I think Seoul are regretting letting him leave right now as their midfield is lacking something (don't know what). Should be a good game, but I expect Jeonbuk to get all 3 points as well.

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    Replies
    1. Perhaps missing a certain Shin Jin-ho? I think Seoul will be grateful for the lack of midweek games for a while. They seemed as if they need to regroup a bit.

      Good point on Kim Min-hyeok, he's been pretty much ever-present for Gwangju this season and could have done well as part of FC Seoul's rotated squad last Sunday.

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