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Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Ulsan Hyundai

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors striker Kim Shin-wook will be reminded of better times this weekend as he faces his old club Ulsan Hyundai in Jeonju.  (Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)
Jeonbuk's Kim Shin-wook will be reminded of better times this weekend as he faces his old club Ulsan Hyundai in Jeonju.
(Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)
After defeating second place FC Seoul to cement an eleven point gap at the top of the table, Jeonbuk's tough run of fixtures continues this weekend as they play host to a third place Ulsan Hyundai for the first time in an eleven day period. While some are already conceding that the title is destined to go to Jeonbuk once more, the reigning champions must remain focused in order to wrap the league up as quickly as possible so they can also concentrate on the ACL quarter finals when it resumes next month.

Jeonbuk Continue to Succeed When Expected to Falter

Motors currently find themselves in the middle of a tough six (league) game run that has included Pohang (H), Jeju (A) and FC Seoul (A) and will feature Ulsan (H), Gwangju (H) and Ulsan again (H). The first three of these fixtures have all been victorious for the Jeonju-side and now they will be at home for the latter three, a place where they have won all but one league game all season. Many predicted this difficult schedule would see them falter and lose their unbeaten record, but the only signs of wavering were shockingly crashing out of the cup to Challenge team Bucheon 1995. As mentioned so many times this season, Jeonbuk raise their game when they are faced with an opposition who they deem worthy of their time. With that in mind, fans should be quietly confident that this team will likely rise to the challenge again this weekend.

Jeonbuk defeat Seoul midweek

Lopes puts FC Seoul to the sword with his second (and Jeonbuk's 3rd) of the night. (Photo Credit: JTBC3)
Lopes puts FC Seoul to the sword with his second (and Jeonbuk's 3rd) of the night. (Photo Credit: JTBC3)
Unfortunately I was unable to recap this game in full, or even watch it live, due to scheduling difficulties. It seems those who did though were treated to five goals, smacked goal frames and stunning saves. It was a stark contrast to the first iteration of this fixture in 2016.

Kim Bo-kyung continued to stake his claim as to why he should be recalled to the Korean national team later this year, opening the scoring in five minutes after capitalising on a mistake from Tagahaki. Seoul were not to be silenced though, drawing the scores level three minutes later with a Dejan wonder strike from the edge of the area.

The first half continued pretty evenly with both teams having their fair share of decent chances. The second half though saw Jeonbuk step up into the gear they often threaten to. Jeonbuk took the lead when Choi Chul-soon played Lopes through into space within the penalty area, who then proceeded to dispatch from a tight angle. There was shouts for offside but the replay shows he was firmly on when the ball was played.

If there were any doubts about his first one though, there were certainly none about his second. Kim Bo-kyung created space for himself in central midfield and played an exquisite through ball to Lopes. The Brazilian attacker was fouled, but rather than go to ground, stayed on his feet and struck from the edge of the area beyond the keeper. Lopes has been in good form for his club these last few games and thoroughly deserves all the plaudits that have been coming his way.

Seoul's Osmar did manage to pull one goal back for Seoul in the closing minutes but by that point it was too late to surmount a come back.

Highlights can be viewed here.

He's Back!



Edu facing his former club Suwon Bluewings last season. (Photo Credit: Hyundai-Motors FC.com)
Edu facing his former club Suwon Bluewings last season. (Photo Credit: Hyundai-Motors FC.com)
This week, Jeonbuk finally confirmed what many have known for months would happen. Edu, the Brazilian striker who took the league by storm in just six months last year, has returned to Jeonju. Lacking match sharpness, if Edu is to make a cameo this weekend it will be likely from the bench. Held in such high regard by the Jeonbuk support, he is sure to receive a very warm reception.

For my thoughts on his transfer to the club and what this means for Jeonbuk's other players, click here.

Kim Shin-wook Day

All ticket holders will receive a Kim Shin-wook wristband this weekend as part of Jeonbuk's Kim Shin-wook day. Judging by the popularity of the far simpler Kim Bo-kyung wristbands amongst local school children, the club maybe onto another winner here. (Photo Credit: Jeonbuk Official Facebook Page)
All ticket holders will receive a Kim Shin-wook wristband this weekend as part of Jeonbuk's Kim Shin-wook day. Judging by the popularity of the far simpler Kim Bo-kyung wristbands, the club maybe onto another winner here.
(Photo Credit: Jeonbuk Official Facebook Page)
After the success of the club's Kim Bo-kyung Day for the 3-0 victory over Pohang, both in terms of support, team performance and also the individual's performance, Jeonbuk hope to repeat the feat with a tribute to their other marquee signing last winter. The struggling striker has not scored a league goal since the opening day, and last found himself on the score sheet in the 3-2 defeat to Bucheon. Given the recent hectic schedule though, and that the player will be adorning the ticket stubs, free wristbands and marketing posters for this fixture against his old club, I would not be surprised if the Wookie finds himself in the starting line-up to appease the business side of the club. With Edu now having arrived back in Jeonju, and attacking places soon to be at a premium, this could be one of Kim Shin-wook's best (and maybe even few remaining) opportunities to prove to everyone that he belongs at this club.

The Opposition

Mendy signs for Ulsan Hyundai. (Photo Credit: YouTube)
Mendy signs for Ulsan Hyundai. (Photo Credit: YouTube)
Ulsan Hyundai have been in notable form of late, which has seen them draw level on points with FC Seoul. Hoping to capitalise midweek in the race for Champions League qualification, they were left stunned as they versed relegation candidates and lost convincingly by three goals to one.

Prior to this they had secured seven out nine points in the previous three fixtures. Yet, you could also argue before that short run, the lost 4-0 away to Pohang Steelers. Ulsan have looked good this season for the most part though and will surely prove a difficult challenge for Jeonbuk.

Ulsan currently are the fourth lowest scorers in the league though, which makes their position even more remarkable. Furthermore, they have also conceded the fourth highest number of goals, suggesting that when they win, the margin is narrow and when the lose, they apparently give up and open the floodgates. That is not entirely true, although some of their defeats have been heavy (see the aforementioned Pohang game), but a spell of narrow 1-0 victories did not help their GF column.

The club has ventured into the market though to try and correct this. The club's recent capture of Frédéric Mendy has looked promising, scoring 3 goals in 5 games across all competitions and helping them through to the FA Cup semi-finals. As expected, the Ulsan fans have already started making favourable comparisons to him and their former striker and top-scorer Kim Shin-wook. It will be interesting to see if the "new Wookie" can upstage the one and only this weekend.

Predictions

When these two teams faced each other in round two, the score was goalless although Ulsan should have won. Jeonbuk did also send out a second team for that encounter but, in front of their home crowd, I doubt they will opt to do the same here (except maybe the inclusion of Kim Shin-wook for the previously mentioned reasons).

Ulsan is a tricky fixture for Jeonbuk and they have the capabilities to bring Motors' unprecedented unbeaten run to an end. I do think Jeonbuk have the players up front though to ensure that any threat the visitors pose, they can cancel out or even surpass. With the rich vein of form Jeonbuk is in, this game should be a home win.

Predicted Scoreline: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-1 Ulsan Hyundai

Have your say

Disagree with the opinions above? Think it will finish differently? Why not leave a comment below or contact me directly on Twitter. Also make sure to vote in the Twitter poll below to see how everyone else envisages the way this match is going.

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