Preview: Incheon United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
|Jeonbuk players celebrate Lee Jong-ho's 95th minute volley to take all three points against Suwon Bluewings|
(Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
Is Incheon deemed worthy of Jeonbuk’s time?
This is a slightly dramatic statement, but is no secret that Jeonbuk have struggled to turn up away from home and also against teams they expected to comfortably beat. It is a much regurgitated statistic but Jeonbuk have drawn mostly against teams they were expected to beat, with all score draws being points lost, (i.e. lost leads). These repeated lapses of concentration have held Jeonbuk back in running away with this title race in season. With only two points separating the Jeonju-side from second-placed FC Seoul, they must remain focused here and make sure they put this game beyond doubt as quickly as possible.
Will Lee Jong-ho see some more action?
Again, a bit knee-jerk considering he only played for the final 25 minutes against Suwon Bluewings, but his stunning volley to secure all three points with the last kick off the game should offer a decent argument for his inclusion. With their new strikers misfiring, Jeonbuk have been reliant on the 37 year-old Lee Dong-gook for goals this season, and seeing as he has only scored one goal since the start of May, he perhaps could do with some rest. Having arrived from Jeonnam in the winter, Lee Jong-ho has had to settle for third place on the pecking order, with the manager opting to select Kim Shin-wook as the impact substitute when fit instead of the Gwangyang man.
Replacing Luiz on Wednesday, Lee Jong-ho linked up with the midfield well, making decent runs and losing his man on a number of occasions. His goal may have been his first in the league this season, but he offers more threat than Kim Shin-wook and better compliments the playing style of Lopes and Leonardo around him. He has only had 263 minutes of league action (that’s less than Lee Ho and young defender Kim Young-chan), but with more game time, he may start becoming a reliable goalscorer and a decent alternative for Lee Dong-gook.
Incheon is in form
Having celebrated their first three points of the season with an unlikely win away to Seongnam, Incheon United have built on this immediately by earning a draw away to Suwon Bluewings and then a home victory against now bottom-side Suwon FC. Two weeks ago this team looked certain for relegation and yet, whilst they still may be heading in that direction eventually, there is now hope where there once was none. The bottom four clubs are separated by four points, with Incheon being three off the pace in that mini-league table. A point or more at the weekend would be definitely desirable to their supporters.
While their most recent victory came against a struggling Suwon FC, they did show drive and dominance to quickly overwhelm their opponents, with first goals of the season coming from Krste Velksoski and Jin Sung-wook. Their first may have been fortunate, a free kick played in as a cross that somehow snuck in, but their second showed great fight, the likes of which could trouble an occasionally unfocused defence such as Jeonbuk's.
Kevin Oris continues to be Incheon's main threat, despite only scoring three league goals this season. He scored the winner against Seongnam however and continues to make numerous chances in the other games in which he features. The Belgian will certainly be one for the champions to look out for as he lines up against his old club.
Running late for Kick-Off? No problem!
Eight of Jeonbuk’s fourteen league games have been goalless at half-time this season, with only two of their away games seeing goals before the interval. More alarmingly, the number of recaps I have done where the action does not begin until the second half seems to be becoming quite a trend.
Furthermore, the reverse of this fixture was a torrid, rainy affair, with the 1-1 draw (Incheon’s first point of the season) offering little in the way of entertainment other than two splendidly taken goals. A similar attitude here will find any neutrals not already watching the super match in Seoul, hastily changing the channel.
On paper, Jeonbuk should have more than enough to deal with Incheon here and you would hope their dramatic clash in the week would serve as the catalyst for them to go out and dominate from the kick-off. This is first versus eleventh after all.
While they may have the lion’s share of the chances though, you only need to look as far as the Seongnam or Gwangju away games to see Jeonbuk’s struggles on the road. The slightly less recent victory over Jeonnam Dragons away from home also did not come to life until Motors decided to go a goal down, as was also the case with their comeback win against Suwon Bluewings at the Big Bird.
With this mostly in mind, I am sticking purely to current trends to call the score. Incheon are unbeaten in three and will be looking to stifle the champion’s efforts here to make it four. If Choi Kang-hee underestimates his opponents again with heavier than the now usual rotation of 1-2 changes, then a point each does seem very plausible.
Predicted Score: Incheon United 1-1 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Have Your Say
What do you think the final score will be? Do you agree or disagree in what I've said. Vote in the poll below and leave your comments below. Alternatively, join the debate on Twitter by following @Matt_Binns (myself) or @KLeagueUnited.
POLL: Who will come away with three points in Incheon on Saturday? PREVIEW: https://t.co/gKNEbd1yTE #kleague— Matthew Binns (@Matt_Binns) June 17, 2016