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Preview: Incheon United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Lee Dong-gook put in a man of the match performance against FC Seoul last time out. Can he do the same against Incheon United on Wednesday evening

Wednesday evening sees top of the table Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors take on second from bottom Incheon United. With many predicting the scoreline a foregone conclusion, can the home side pull off a shock victory and start to pull themselves out of the relegation zone?
(Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)

Last Time Out

In their previous match, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors professionally saw off a ten man FC Seoul side in the capital, winning 2-1 to stretch their league lead to five points over second place whilst also restoring bragging rights over their rivals until their next encounter.

The talking point of the game was undoubtedly Seoul midfielder Ju Se-jong's deserved red card in the 25th minute for a combination of retaliation and placing his hand in the face of his opponent Jeong Hyeok. This was despite Jeong committing the initial foul and seeing yellow for a reckless flailing of his arm as the two jostled for the ball. The incident made things somewhat harder for the home side, particularly given the pressure Jeonbuk had been exerting in the opening exchanges.

Two well-worked second half goals from midfielder Lee Jae-sung and Lee Dong-gook did enough to secure the points, despite a late cameo from Dejan pulling a consolation back for Seoul in the depths of injury time. Lee Dong-gook's goal, in addition to his role in creating the opener, saw the 38 year-old pick up the man of the match award for his efforts.

Highlights from FC Seoul 1-2 Jeonbuk can be viewed here.

Incheon United pulled off an unlikely draw on the road against second place Ulsan Hyundai. The visitors took a deserved lead in the 39th minute through Park Yong-ji. The player's run and one-two saw him break through the Ulsan defence to calmly finish past Kim Yong-dae. It was the least the visitors deserved after perhaps having the better of the few first half chances

Incheon were unable to hold on until half time though, with a Kim Sung-hwan penalty prior to the interval making it one apiece before the whistle. The second half saw an increase in pressure from Ulsan, but they were unable to break down Incheon, despite what some premature goal fireworks indicated when a last minute shot struck the side netting. While fans may rue conceding their lead, a point collected against a title contender away from home is not to be sniffed at. They will now be hoping they can build on their encouraging display ahead of Wednesday's fixture.

Highlights from Incheon's 1-1 draw will Ulsan can be viewed here.

Previous Meetings

Although there is often quite a gap between these two sides in terms of league standings, Incheon have always proved to be difficult opposition for Jeonbuk. Four of their last five meetings have been draws, with last season's 3-1 Jeonbuk victory being very much the anomaly.

Recent history shows that this has often proved to be a fixture where the Jeonbuk manager Choi Kang-hee likes to experiment with his line up. Given there is a clash with Ulsan at the weekend, it would not be surprising if he opted to rotate his players on Wednesday evening. It is this underestimation that has often worked in Incheon's favour when these two sides meet, along with some determined performances from Incheon.

Team News

The biggest team news for Jeonbuk is the return of Han Kyo-won, with the right winger having spent six months on loan to K3 side Hwaseong FC to complete his civil service. His last notable contribution to Jeonbuk was scoring what would turn out to be the winning goal in last Novermber's AFC Champions League final.

Kim Shin-wook may not feature from the off having played in the weekend's pointless K League All Star game away to Vietnam U23s. After his strong showing against Seoul, I fully expect Lee Dong-gook to be leading the attacking line regardless. Columnist Ryan Walters has touched on just why this All Star game was such futile exercise in his FC Seoul preview, which you can read here.

Despite also featuring in the All Starts game, Kim Jin-su is suspended for this match so will be afforded rest ahead of the weekend's home game. With Lee Yong still on his way back from injury, expect Park Won-jae and Choi Chul-soon to man both flanks come Wednesday night.

There are no suspensions for Incheon to be concerned with going into this match. The club may also offer a debut to their new Argentine striker Enzo Maidana who signed last week to hopefully help with the club's goal drought up front.

The Adversary

Incheon United sit second from bottom on goals scored (the K League's second tie breaker after points) and have not tasted victory in six matches, despite two credible draws against Gangwon and Ulsan. For each credible point earned, there have been humiliations at the hands of rivals Suwon and Seoul to further remind the support of the state the club find themselves in.

Goals have also been hard to come by, with the team scoring the second lowest number this season. This is while also conceding the second highest number of goals in the division, a ratio that shows exactly why many tipped them to struggle again this season.

In terms of who to watch, talented youngster Song Si-woo is certainly a player who can cause a few headaches. The attacking midfielder already has something of a reputation of stealing points against Jeonbuk, with superb late strikes in Jeonju both this season and last to earn Incheon two well fought draws. This season, he currently stands as the side's top scorer with four goals, which is somewhat surprising given that Weslley had been signed at the start of the season to be there main goal threat. The Brazilian has only two league goals to his name in this campaign.

As mentioned, Incheon supporters could get to see their new man Enzo Maidana line up on Wednesday evening. The Argentinian was signed from Bolivian side Petrolero Yacuiba where he scored 31 goals in 58 league appearances, 21 of which coming in his last season which recently finished. For Incheon's survival sake, fans will certainly be hoping he can continue this form on Korean shores.

Prediction

It is that time of year when Jeonbuk tend to turn the screw on the chasing pack and I cannot see them falling to Incheon here, despite what a recent head to head comparison would indicate. A combination of potential squad rotation for the visitors and a defence minded Incheon side though should keep the scoreline tight however, with likely just the single goal to separate the two.

Predicted Score: Incheon United 1-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

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