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Preview: Sangju Sangmu vs Suwon Bluewings


After playing out a boring 0-0 draw earlier in the season both neutrals and supporters alike will be hoping for a more interesting affair when Suwon travel to Sangju this weekend. 
(Picture courtesy of www.bluewings.kr)

Last Time Out

Sangju ended a recent losing streak last Saturday as they registered a creditable home draw against Seoul. However, having twice been in the lead, after goals from Kim Seong-jun and Yoo Jun-su, they may well feel disappointed that they couldn't hold on for a victory.

But that disappointment didn't last for long, as they registered their first victory in 5 games on Wednesday night when they defeated Bucheon in the FA Cup. A 2-0 victory saw them progress to the quarter finals where they will now face an away trip to Ulsan.

In contrast, their recent home loss to Ulsan aside, Suwon are the Kleague Classic's form team and continued their good form with a 3-1 victory away to Jeonnam Dragons last Sunday afternoon. 2 goals from Santos and a late winner from Yeom Ki-hun, saw Suwon leapfrog their fierce rivals, FC Seoul, and push themselves to within reaching distance of top spot in the table.

Despite playing against a Jeonnam team that had recently destroyed Ulsan and Gwangju, Suwon looked fairly comfortable as they overturned an early setback when Choi Jae-hyun finished off a fine team goal from Jeonnam. However, 2 goals from Santos saw Suwon take the lead, and a disciplined defensive performance saw them protect their lead and even add to the scoreline in stoppage time, courtesy of a Yeom Ki-hun breakaway goal.

The most pleasing aspect of the victory, though, was not the clinical attacking play, but the defensive performance and grit and determination shown in holding off a strong Jeonnam fightback. Last season was characterised by a number of collapses when in winning positions, and the Suwon team of 2016 would almost certainly have drawn the game in Gwangyang last weekend. But the addition of Matthew Jurman is what separates those teams, and the Australian centre-back was instrumental in Suwon's victory last week. He was relentless in his tackling and won the majority of his aerial battles, and was supremely impressive when battling against Jeonnam's emergency centre-forward Tomislav Mrcela. If Suwon can continue to hold onto their winning positions, their rise up the table will undoubtedly continue, and their title aspirations may just become a little more realistic.

Team News

Suwon's hectic 2 month schedule has finally ended and for the first time since early April, Suwon will only play one game this week, that being this Sangju game. There were a few tired legs towards the end of the Jeonnam game, and the full week of rest has resulted in Seo Jung-won having an almost full squad of players to choose from, with Kim Min-woo's absence being the only thing troubling the Suwon manager.

Suwon youngster, Yoon Yong-ho made his debut for the team last week, and made a very promising start to his professional career. Although he was only introduced as a substitute in the 73rd minute, he went on to play in centre-midfield, the right of midfield, and eventually as a sole attacker, and he impressed in every position. His performance may just warrant another place on the substitutes bench, and he may be a player to watch out for in the future.

Who To Watch

This time last year, Suwon were languishing towards the bottom of the Kleague classic table, thanks to capitulating in the final minutes of the game on far too many occasions. However, this term, Suwon are beginning to show that they have a defence that is more willing to battle and fight for the points than the team of last term. A huge reason for that, as I have mentioned above, is the addition of Matthew Jurman to the team. His excellent awareness and positioning has added stability to the backline, but it is his aggression and physicality that has been key to Suwon's good run of results. Jurman is particularly at this best when he has a battle to fight and coming up against Sangju's big frontman Joo Min-kyu may just be the type of game that he will relish.

Sangju's main man this season has most certainly been that man, Joo Min-kyu. Although he has only scored 3 goals, he has been the sole focal point for Sangju's attacks and when he plays well, Sangju usually win.

Another key piece to the Sangju attack is Suwon's former left-back, and fan favourite, Hong-Chul. With 3 assists to his name, he remains one of the best Korean left-back's and were it not for Jeonbuk's signing of Kim Jin-su, the Sangju man would probably be regarded as the best defender in the Kleague.

Prediction

Given Suwon's unbelievable form away from home (4 domestic victories in a row and unbeaten away from home all season), combined with Sangju's recent inconsistency, it would be difficult to look beyond a Suwon win. However, Sangju are a team, and a squad, that is packed full of quality and have a number of players, who on their day can cause the greatest of problems for any team in the Kleague. Suwon's aspirations are growing with each win, but this may be a game where they would settle for a draw and a share of the points.

Predicted Score: Sangju 1-1 Suwon


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