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Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Daegu FC

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors take on Daegu FC this Sunday where Kim Bo-kyung will play in his last game for the club.

After returning to their World Cup Stadium in style on Wednesday evening, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors are set to welcome Daegu FC in what is set to be key midfielder Kim Bo-kyung's last match for the club.
(Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)

Last Time Out

Having played their last competitive fixture there back in November, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors made quite the statement upon their much awaited return to the Jeonju World Cup Stadium, dismantling a third place Gangwon FC side to tune of four goals to one in perhaps their strongest showing of the 2017 campaign.

The game notably saw the return of Ricardo Lopes, a player who also last saw action across both legs of the AFC Champions League Final back in November where he severely damaged his ACL knee ligament in helping his side to be crowned Champions of Asia. The Brazilian only played for the final twenty-five minutes on Wednesday night, but will hope to feature more as he continues on his road to match sharpness.

However, it would be Lopes' teammates who would take most of the headlines with a display that saw them rack up four goals in twenty on-field minutes. Edu would open the scoring on the brink of half-time after midfielder Lee Jae-sung's excellent footwork and combination play with Kim Bo-kyung into the box saw him pull back the pass for the Brazilian, leaving the striker to move the ball beyond the reach of two scrambling defenders and fire home.

Six minutes into the second half, Kim Jin-su would slide the ball into the far post after a one-two with Jang Yun-ho, doubling the home side's lead. Five minutes later and an acrobatic effort by Kim Bo-kyung from a Kim Jin-su corner looked to put the score beyond doubt. It still did not stop Edu from converting Jeonbuk's fourth moments later though after Kim Jin-su struck the post from range.

Gangwon FC did pull one goal back from a Jung Jo-gook penalty in the 69th minute, after Jeong Hyeok was deemed to have fouled Diego Maurício in the penalty area, but a comeback never looked as if it would transpire.

With most of their players now fully fit, and back in their familiar stomping ground, Jeonbuk look convincing and deserving of the first place spot they hold. The feeling from the support would be that they have come through the predicted early season difficulties unscathed and now look in good shape to pull away from the rest of the pack as we reach the season's half way mark.

Highlights from Jeonbuk's 4-1 victory over Gangwon can be viewed here.

A Farewell to Kim Bo-kyung

With such new-found optimism after a inspiring performance, it seemed inevitable their would have to be a downside to balance it. Rumours began circulating on Wednesday morning that central midfielder Kim Bo-kyung was set to sign a deal with J League side Kashiwa Reysol, with the transfer being confirmed by both clubs on Thursday afternoon.

Having joined at the start of last season with a view to rebuild a career that had stalled in Europe, Kim Bo-kyung proved to be an inspired signing by Jeonbuk, forming a fast paced passing partnership with Lee Jae-sung that saw the North Jeolla side claim the AFC Champions League trophy and nearly canter to a league title. It even saw the player force his way back in to a Korean national team that had looked to have moved on without him.

With Lee Jae-sung having missed the first eleven games this season through injury, Kim's presence has proved even more pivotal, cementing himself as one of the club's most reliable performers and a firm fan favourite. His departure will no doubt come as a shock to the Jeonbuk faithful and they will be hoping that the board have someone lined up to replace him in the upcoming transfer window, although the manager has since hinted that the much rumoured loan deal for Yoon Bit-garam looks like it may have fallen through.

Sunday's match against Daegu FC will be the midfielder's last for a club, with the club pulling out all the promotional stops in what is will be his farewell game.

Team News

Other than this match being Kim Bo-kyung's last match in neon green, Jeonbuk should be mostly unchanged from the side that took Gangwon apart on Wednesday. Lopes will likely see more minutes from the bench as he regains fitness, possibly with an eye to start him in next week's fixture against FC Seoul. Captain Shin Hyung-min will also return to line up after serving a suspension, probably in place of Jang Yun-ho.

The Adversary

Daegu FC come into Sunday's clash on the back of a credible goalless draw away to FC Seoul, a game which they saw out the final twenty minutes with just ten men after Han Hee-hoon picked up his second yellow card of the evening. The visiting side will have been happy to have came away with a point however and claim their third consecutive game without a loss, a run of form that has coincided with a change in management and appointment of Brazilian coach André from within their backroom staff.

Our Daegu columnist Jung Muyeol has also highlighted a number of injury concerns coming into this match. With Han suspended and captain Park Tae-hong still on the mend, it is likely veteran Hwang Jae-won will start, with the player only having recovered recently from injury and still not fully fit. To further compound matters, their top scorer Evandro is currently out of action with a knee injury.

The last time these two faced one another, Jeonbuk edged a victory in Daegu in a closely fought contest. Jeonbuk and Jeju are the only two teams to have come away with the full three points in Daegu though, where the relegation threatened side has looked to make it a fortress in their bid to keep their heads above water. The promoted side are making a fight of it, and will be further buoyed by their first point in five away games.

Daegu FC have tended to line up in a 5-3-2/5-4-1 formation often this season in a bid to have players back and keep out opponents. It is a formation they will unlikely divert too far away from for this Sunday's game.

Highlights from the goalless draw between FC Seoul and Daegu FC can be viewed here.

Who To Watch

With the squad somewhat depleted for this match, the player to watch will most likely be Leonardo Henrique (or Leo as he is referred to). With six goals this campaign in fourteen starts, the 27 year old Brazilian attacker has performed beyond initial fan expectations since signing with Daegu in the winter, causing havoc down the flank. With no Evandro, the traveling support will likely look to Leo if they are going to score on Sunday.

Prediction

Having seen what a close to full strength Jeonbuk can do against a team in third which had won their last five games, it is difficult not to fear for a weakened Daegu side. That said, Jeonbuk do tend to play their best football on the counter, which might be difficult against a side that will most likely look come to defend and limit the damage. Daegu have not traveled well this season though, and I fully expect that trend to continue here.

Predicted Score: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-0 Daegu FC

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