Writers' Chat: Incheon United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Preview
This Saturday in the Classic brings together Incheon United, who picked up their first point last weekend away to Daegu, and Jeonbuk Hyundai, who are perfect with two wins out of two. Both clubs have lost their key players this season as they face each other at the Incheon Football Stadium. With exciting new players for both teams, Jeonbuk expert Matthew Binns and I will discuss how these two teams with very different goals and priorities will face each other.
Jun Asks, Matthew Answers
Jun Kim: There were some worries with Jeonbuk before the season started - loss of hugely influential players Kwoun and Leonardo - but with already 2 wins out of 2, is it fair to say that Jeonbuk are still the main contenders for the league title this season?
Have Jeonbuk done enough to fill the void left by those two players?
Matthew Binns: I still think there is a lack of depth though, especially with the increasing injury list, but Jeonbuk's new look defence is a definite improvement on last year and could prove something to depend on as we venture deeper into the campaign.
As for Kwoun Sun-tae's replacement, Hong Jeong-nam has done a more than adequate job so far. There have been a couple of heart-in-mouth moments, but also enough glimmers of potential to suggest that Choi Kang-hee was right to give him a shot. I look forward to seeing him develop further. The void is certainly not filled, but perhaps it is not as gaping as first anticipated.
Jun: Choi Kang-hee actually showed his tactical flexibility against Suwon by opting to go for 3-4-3 and it worked very well. Will Jeonbuk use this formation more regularly this season?
Matthew: I have a tendency to criticise Choi Kang-hee, but credit is due in regards his tactics against Suwon. Allowing Kim Jin-su and Lee Yong to advance down the wings certainly played to their strengths whilst simultaneously allowing Ko Moo-yeol and Lee Seung-gi to move inside to benefit from a Kim Shin-wook's ball winning headers, cumulatively putting the Suwon defence under significant pressure. I understand the 3-4-3 is currently the fashionable tactic in the wider footballing world at present, but within the K League, Jeonbuk could have some of the best options to fully utilise such an approach.
Jun: What are your thoughts on Kim Jin-su? What does he bring to the team?
Matthew: It may only have been two games, but I thought his purchase was a smart move when he first arrived. While he may have fallen out of favour at Hoffenheim, he still had more than enough ability to play in this league so I was naturally delighted he opted for Jeonbuk. I was surprised there were not more suitors clamouring for his signature, especially with Suwon losing Hong Chul to military service, but perhaps Jeonbuk possessed the funds, Champions League football (at the time) plus also being based in the player's hometown of Jeonju.
Kim Jin-su already has one goal and one assist to his name within these first two games, which is a good haul for a player considered as a left-back. What I particularly like about him is his willingness to advance further up the pitch whilst not shirking his defensive responsibilities, hence helping make the 3-4-3 Choi employed work. He also seems to have a decent eye for a pass, and his work rate seems to be good. He definitely looks like a player with a point to prove in regards to his reputation, and long may it continue whilst he is clad in neon green.
Jun: Which players are likely to cause problems for Incheon?
Matthew: The aforementioned Kim Jin-su is certainly set to cause a few headaches and is the standout player I would highlight for this match. Seeing as I have just gone over the threat he poses though, I'll opt for another.
Surprisingly, I think Kim Shin-wook could create a number of problems for Incheon on Saturday, and that is not because I am still flying hifh after his 93rd minute winner two weeks ago.
whilst he did not score against Suwon, I would say his performance was stronger that that against Jeonnam the week prior. When operating as part of the team, rather than the expected source for goals, Jeonbuk have tended to get the best out of him, with Leonardo and Lopes both strongly benefiting from his run in the side towards the end of last season.
Unfortunately, Lopes' temporary replacement Lee Seung-gi is out injured for at least a month after that horrific, now punished tackle from Suwon's Seo Jung-jin. Therefore, Choi Kang-hee will likely select Eder Luiz in his place. Eder is still new to the club and, while offering some promise, is yet to ignite his Jeonbuk career. Assuming Choi opts for a 3-4-3 or 4-1-4-1 formation, having someone like Kim Shin-wook to win the ball up front in what could prove to be a tight defence should also provide a new signing with enough opportunities to feed off and hopefully open his account.
Jun: How do you see the game playing out?
Matthew: Backed with individually talented defenders that continue to develop an understanding with one another, I can see Jeonbuk neutering the threat being posed by Incheon, with the visitors' constant pressure eventually resulting in a goal or two, especially if Choi decides to repeat his tactics from the game against Suwon.
Matthew's predicted score: Incheon United 0-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
Matthew Asks, Jun Answers
Matthew: In their previous game, Incheon United made a spirited comeback against Daegu FC to draw the game two goals apiece. What were your thought on Incheon's performance in that match and was the draw a deserved result?
Jun: Yeah I can't complain about the result as it's better than nothing, but I think that Incheon were lucky to walk away with a point against Daegu.
Daegu really tested Incheon's defence and they were able to nullify Incheon's defensive midfielder Connor Chapman; the Australian was meant to provide stability and work as a link between Incheon's back four and their wide-men.
Unfortunately for Chapman, he wasn't able to dictate the play in the middle and the rest of Incheon midfielders were bullied into giving up possessions and were also slow at getting back to help out in defence.
On a positive note, Incheon showed some nice interchange of play in front of the Daegu defence towards the end of the game and were able to eveutually draw the game.
Lee Ki-hyung on the other hand, wants to see his players move the ball forward, this is crucial for Incheon because they have some speedy players out-wide and they must find ways to maximise their abilities.