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Preview: Busan IPark vs Seongnam FC


Busan continues their quest to chase down local rivals, Gyeongnam FC, as they take on Seongnam FC in Monday night action. Busan took the points when the two sides met at Tancheon on the opening weekend. Will they take all three points again this time, or will Seongnam give their promotion hopes a boost by snatching a win at the Gudeok?
(Image courtesy of Seongnam FC and KFA via Naver Sports)

Last Time Out

Busan had to settle for a point as they were held to a 1-1 draw with FC Anyang last weekend. Lee Gyu-seong had given Busan an early lead, but Anyang scored at the end of regular time through Kang Joon-woo to give the Gyeonggi side a point. For Busan it was another match that continued their trend of playing well, but never entirely being in control of the match. Seongnam climbed the table as they defeated Asan Mugunghwa 1-0 thanks to an early strike from Park Sung-ho.

Previous Meetings

The two sides met in the opening round of the 2017 season at Tancheon, with Busan winning 1-0 thanks to a Lee Jeong-hyeop goal. Busan threatened to score again through Romulo, but they weren't able to add to their tally. Fortunately for Busan, Seongnam had yet to find any sort of rhythm or form and looked lost whenever they entered the Busan area. Despite Seongnam dominating the second-half, Busan clung on to an opening-day, morale boosting win.

Team News

The big question will be whether star striker, Lee Jeong-hyeop, makes his return from injury. Lee injured his ankle back in mid-May, and was reported to need about 4 weeks to recover. We're hitting that mark right now, but it remains to be seen whether the former KNT man will make it. Coach Cho Jin-ho told reporters recently, that he believed that Lee would probably be back at the end of June, so this one likely has come to soon. That leaves the next question to be the one we keep asking every week, "How will Cho Jin-ho line up the attack?" Last week, that was with Ko Kyung-min, Lim Sang-hyub, and Park Jun-tae in a 3-4-3 looking formation. Will Cho again opt for a smaller, more mobile lineup, or will he give Lukian another run out? The big Brazilian has failed to deliver following a solid season in Bucheon, and Cho hinted that he's running out of patience.

Central midfield also remains a question following the departure of Heo Beom-san to complete his mandatory military service. The small duo of Lee Gyu-seong and Kim Jin-kyu didn't work spectacularly well last week, but with a bit of defensive muscle behind (perhaps Cha Young-hwan), it may be serviceable.

Following those questions is whether Cho wants to continue to rotate and tinker with his formations and personnel. Against a stronger opponent and with a chance to close the gap on Gyeongnam (who dropped points in a 1-1 draw with Asan yesterday), here's hoping the boss opts for his best XI.

The Adversary

Seongnam currently sit in 7th place on 20 points. Now, considering they were runaway favorites for the title and automatic promotion, that's pretty disappointing numbers. However, considering through their first eight matches they ran a record of 0-3-5 with four goals scored and 10 conceded, it's not too bad. In their past eight matches they've improved those numbers to 5-2-1 with six scored and two conceded (both to Seoul E-Land). Combined numbers thus far: 5-5-6 with 10 scored and 12 conceded.

Seongnam, based on goals allowed, run the toughest 'D' in the league (Busan is second on 14 conceded), and they've kept seven clean sheets in their past eight matches. However, their offense has yet to really click with 10 in 16 being a pretty paltry return. Star attacker Hwang Ui-jo, who is still oddly being linked with a summer move to Gamba Osaka, has not provided the returns the club has been hoping for - just three goals and no assists from 16 appearances.

Who To Watch

Given Seongnam's solid defensive numbers, I'll pick an obvious choice and go with goalkeeper Kim Dong-jun. Kim remains Korea's next hot goalkeeping property, and despite being the tender age of 22, is a big part of Seongnam's hopes for promotion.

Prediction

Numbers say this will be a defensive match. 12 conceded by Seongnam and 14 conceded by Busan. Busan has also managed to score regularly, and their 25 scored is second only to Gyeongnam. Another tight affair seems to be in order, so we'll go for a repeat of the opening weekend.

Busan 1 - 0 Seongnam


Also, if you needed another motivation to go, it's "Beer Fest" at the Gudeok. 15,000 won for ticket and unlimited beer!

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