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Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Gwangju FC

Kim Shin-wook and Lopes celebrate their goals against Ulsan Hyundai. They were both on the scoresheet again when Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors defeated Sangju Sangmu at the weekend

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors bounced back once again from defeat with a convincing victory against Sangju Sangmu on Sunday. They now look to host bottom of the table Gwangju FC on Wednesday evening at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium.
(Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)

Last Time Out

After a defeat away to Jeju midweek, a rotated Jeonbuk side got off to the best possible start as build up play from Lee Jae-sung and Lee Seung-gi played winger Lopes through to score the opening goal in just 18 seconds of time played.  With the home side evidently stunned Jeonbuk continued to mount pressure, eventually doubling their lead before the interval via Éder.

With the game being played out in torrential downpour, Jeonbuk looked to be making do with just a two goal lead, which led to sloppy marking at a corner that allowed the military side to score and get back into the match. Jeonbuk’s top scorer this season Kim Shin-wook, having started on the bench, would then go on to fire in a free kick moments later to reinstate his side’s lead and secure the points. Not renowned for his set piece taking ability, the stunning free-kick was the towering striker’s second in a week and was arguably one of the standout goals of the round.

Even the normally stone-faced Choi Kang-hee was moved to applaud.

Highlights from Jeonbuk's 3-1 victory over Sangju Sangmu can be viewed here.

Elsewhere, Gwangju FC endured a lot of pressure from a high-flying Ulsan side, with a combination of sound goalkeeping and goal framework keeping proceedings goalless until the interval. However, the resistance was not to last. Not long after the hour, Northern Ireland international Niall McGinn came on to make his K League debut but, before he had even had time to touch the ball, Gwangju found themselves a goal down when some poor positioning from their centre back allowed Kim In-sung to run into the box unmarked and grant Ulsan the lead.

Gwangju did liven up when tasked with procuring an equaliser, and it looked as if it would come from their new man McGinn in the 76th minute. Gwangju’s Song Seung-min flicked on a header within the Ulsan box straight to McGinn in space, but the former Aberdeen man was unable to control his volley, sending it over from six yards. In all fairness to the player, the ball did not arrive at him comfortably, but he will certainly rue the missed opportunity to open his account in Korea. The score would eventually play out to a 1-0 Ulsan victory, prolonging Gwangju’s stay at the foot of the table for yet another round.

Highlights from Gwangju's 1-0 defeat to Ulsan can be viewed here.

Previous Meetings

When these two sides faced one another in Gwangju earlier in the year, the home side pulled off a shock victory, putting a halt to Jeonbuk's unbeaten start to the season. Despite the scoreline however, the North Jeolla were mostly on top of proceedings but were held out through some resilient Gwangju defending and the woodwork, striking the crossbar three times in search of an equaliser that never came.

Team News

Lee Yong remains the only long term casualty for Jeonbuk so Choi Chul-soon will continue at right back in his absence. There are no players suspended, although captain Shin Hyung-min, a player who can sometimes feel as if he is on a permanent yellow card, will miss the weekend's away trip to FC Seoul if he is cautioned on Wednesday evening.

The Adversary

Whilst the table rarely lies, it also does not offer a pristine picture. Gwangju FC have struggled for goals this season, which naturally has made it difficult for them to find victories yet their performances have not always been as dire as some of the results would suggest, often showing solid defending and creating chances, yet they are just not putting them away. It is a point well covered, but the loss of last season's top goal scorer and player of the year Jung Jo-gook has really left a gaping void to fill, with any early season hopes that they would find the goals within the squad certainly dashed by this point.

With the recent eye-opening acquisition of current Northern Ireland international Niall McGinn though, their woes in front of goal may soon come to pass. Gwangju are evidently determined to stay in the Classic, and making one of the most exciting K League signings in recent years certainly speaks volumes. The club have said they will be hoping their latest addition will manage to find ten goals by the end of the season, something that is not entirely beyond the realms of possibility given his quality. The player was scheduled to make his debut in approximately three weeks, yet manager Nam Ki-il saw fit to introduce him as a substitute against Ulsan on Saturday, fielding him on the left wing. Chances are then that he will see some minutes in Jeonju on Wednesday night also as he acclimatises to his new surroundings.

With goals at a premium for Gwangju, two players who have manager to find the net on more that one occasion particularly stand out. With three goals and two assists to his name, Jo Ju-young started the season leading the front line but has recently dropped behind another new acquisition, Brazilian striker Wanderson. With Wanderson collecting a straight red card when they faced Sangju however, Jo saw himself reinstated to the line up once more for the weekend match against Ulsan.

Song Seung-min has been more of a regular feature than Jo, playing nearly double the amount of minutes featuring on the right wing and has subsequently bagged himself a goal more, although notably he is yet to create an assist. Most of Gwangju's assists have been from the left where Ju Hyun-woo has been regularly manning the position, creating opportunities for Jo and Song.

Prediction

While there may be some shoots of optimism in their home form and performances, Gwangju's away record certainly makes a concerning read, having only picked up four points all season despite a number of decent showings and narrow results (that is as long as you are willing to overlook the five nil drubbing at the hands of Jeonnam Dragons in May). Jeonbuk on the other hand have only dropped five points on their home turf(s) this season. With a big game against FC Seoul at the weekend though, Jeonbuk may once again field a weakened team. This, plus their relatively poor record against the bottom three sides, may give Gwangju some hope of an upset. However, based on the form book, I will still opt for a win for the home side, albeit a narrow one.

Predicted Score: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-1 Gwangju FC

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