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Preview: Suwon FC vs Suwon Bluewings

(Suwon Bluewings celebrate with their supporters after their miraculous injury time victory against Ulsan propelled them into their first Korean FA Cup final since 2011 photo courtesy of www.bluewings.kr)

After waiting their entire existences for an inter-city derby 4 come along all in the same year for these two football clubs. And this 4th (and maybe final one for a long time) may prove to be an explosive encounter with everything on the line for both teams in their journey to escape the drop from the K League Classic. 
Ulsan vs Suwon Bluewings - 26/10/2016

Suwon Bluewings fought their way into their first FA Cup Final in 5 years on Wednesday night, after a battling performance saw them overcome Ulsan by 3 goals to 1. Much of the game was a non-event with a nervous Suwon being mostly blunted by an impressive defensive performance from Ulsan, so I will keep this review as short as possible. 

The 1st half was a terrible advertisement for professional football at any level. Both teams were sloppy in possession and only two half chances were created. One of these fell to Suwon's in-form striker Johnathan, after Kwon Chang-hoon had managed to find the striker with some space to move into on the half way line. However, Johnathan couldn't outpace the Ulsan defence and instead blazed a shot into row-z from 25 yards out. The other chance fell to, and was spurned, by Ulsan's Ivan Kovacec. The winger, who had drifted infield, played a neat one two with Mendy but was crowded out by white shirts and could only produce a weak shot that didn't trouble No Dong-geon in the Suwon goal. 

Despite both teams canceling each other out, Ulsan took a 1-0 lead into half time after the referee made a blunder in the 34th minute. A long, hanging ball was played into the Suwon penalty area, after a routine clearance from an Ulsan free-kick, and as Kwak Kwang-seon challenged to clear the returning ball Jeong Seung-hyeon, Ulsan's right-back, hit the floor and the ref pointed to the spot. In real time it was clear that there was no foul as Kwak Kwang-seon stood his ground, but replays suggested that the foul should have even been awarded to Suwon with Seung-hyeon pulling the Suwon defender's shirt as he challenged for the ball. Kovacec scored the resulting penalty with ease and Ulsan took their lead into half time. 

The second half was a strange event as Ulsan persisted with their season's game plan of relentless defence when they take the lead. Other than a couple of forays into the Suwon half in the latter stages of the match, the majority of the second half was played out in and around Ulsan's penalty area. But it is easy to see why Ulsan have won so many games by single goal margins as their defence (until the last 10 minutes) was simply superb. They pressed and harried Suwon at every opportunity, while the back four were constantly in sync. Ulsan's pressure on the ball was so intense that Suwon couldn't complete more then 3 consecutive passes and Suwon's danger men weren't allowed any time to contribute in the game. Kwon Chang-hoon and Johnathan were just spectators in the game until the dying embers. 

However, it was in the final 10 minutes of the game when those two really showed their quality and mental strength. After Seo Jung-won had thrown the proverbial kitchen sink at Ulsan by bringing Yeom Ki-hun (left attacking winger), Cho Dong-geon (striker) and Santos (striker) off the bench and abandoning any sort of tactics or structure, Suwon did to Ulsan what so many teams have done to them this season. With only 10 minutes of normal time remaining, Yeom Ki-hun floated a hopeful ball into the box, and Johnathan, who had peeled off the Ulsan left-back nodded in an unchallenged header from 5 yards out to equalise for Suwon. Things got even better for Suwon as in the 2nd minute of stoppage time, after good work from Ki-hun again, Kwon Chang-hoon whipped in an unplayable cross for Johnathan to score a near-identical header and give Suwon the lead with only seconds remaining in the game. A normal team would then just try to see out the remaining 120 seconds with as little drama as possible, but Suwon are no ordinary team, and after Cho Dong-geon earned himself a foul on the halfway line he stupidly (why wouldn't you just waste time at this point?) played a quick free-kick to Johnathan. Johnathan in turn found Ki-hun in the box and his cut back was smashed into the corner of the net by Kwon Chang-hoon to gurantee Suwon their place in the final and set up two huge November matches against FC Seoul. 


This Suwon derby could not come any bigger, as a loss for Suwon FC would almost guarantee that they have to atleast play in the relegation play-off at the end of the season. However, they will go into this game in good spirits after they claimed 7 points from their last 4 games. Two huge recent wins against Suwon Bluewings and Pohang gave themselves a fighting chance after they looked dead and buried only one month ago. With games running out, and Incheon and Suwon Bluewings hitting some form, it could be too little too late for the Classic new boys, but a win against their city rivals would certainly spice the relegation battle up even further. 

The problem for Suwon FC all season has been their lack of goals and inability to win at home. They have only registered 4 wins from their 18 home games this calendar year, and have only netted 20 goals at home, although that figure would stand at a measly 15 goals if they hadn't scored an out of character 5 goals against Jeju in the summer. However, since the Australian Bruce Djite was added to the squad in the summer, they have looked like a better attacking unit. The big Australian forward has scored 4 goals but it is his presence as a foil for the more talented Kim Byung-oh that has been more important. In Kim Byung-oh, Suwon FC, in my opinion, have one of the best wingers in the K League. He has lightning pace, is a good ball carrier, is extremely direct and has an eye for a goal and I am thankful to see that even if Suwon FC are relegated he may still be playing the the Classic with Sangju next season. 

Suwon Bluewings go into this game on the biggest high they have experienced all season, and with only a handful of tickets remaining in the away end, will be cheered on by a raucous support. The star men have finally started to produce and just at the right time. 

On Wednesday night, Johnathan increased his goal scoring run to 10 goals in only 7 games and the Brazilian remains the key asset for Suwon Bluewings. The biggest fault labelled at Suwon has been that they have been playing without a striker ever since Jeong Tae-sae was allowed to leave last summer. However, now that they have a striker who can score and influence games, the entire team is starting to turn a corner. The defence appears stronger (apart from the insanity displayed at Pohang and Incheon) and the midfield seems more influential and dominant. Credit must also go to Seo Jung-won in this aspect as, although he failed to utilise Johnathan sufficiently in his first month at the club, he has now given Johnathan more purpose by allowing him to play more centrally as a traditional centre-forward. At this current time, it appears that if Johnathan doesn't score, then Suwon Bluewings won't win, so it's vital that he continues his current hot streak. 

Another key point will be the central area of Suwon Bluewing's midfield. Cho Won-hee has recently returned to that area, and although he has been on the wrong end of a lot of criticism this year, his past 2 performances may hint that he is turning a corner in his 2nd stint at the club. His display against Ulsan, was especially impressive and, in my opinion, he was the best player on the pitch on Wednesday night. This area of the pitch will be vitally important as whoever is deployed there will need to be alert on the occasions when Suwon FC's dangerous wing men get free and are exposed to a Suwon defence lacking in pace. The onus will be on Suwon Bluewing's two holding midfielders to get out to the wings quickly and double up, on Suwon FC's danger man Kim Byung-oh

With so much at stake in this game I wouldn't expect that it will be an attacking free for all. Suwon FC's season has been based around trying to scrape wins by defending well and attacking quickly when they get the opportunity. Whereas Suwon Bluewings will try to dominate possession and limit Suwon FC's attacks. This will almost certainly be a game for the purists and will be settled by one goal. If that goal goes against Suwon FC then we may be saying goodbye to the Classic new boys before they even had time to settle in. 

Predicted Score: Suwon FC 0 - 1 Suwon Bluewings

WeFIFA Prediction

K-League United have teamed up with WeFIFA to bring you simulated FIFA17 match predictions for each round's Match of the Week. This week, Suwon FC vs Suwon Bluewings had the privilege of receiving the WeFIFA treatment. You can see the simulated highlights for yourself below, or by clicking here.


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