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Preview: Suwon Bluewings vs Ulsan Hyundai


This weekend Suwon and Ulsan face off for the final time this season as the Kleague classic enters it's final stretch. Although both team's title aspirations have recently evaporated this is still a vital game at the top of the table in terms of ACL qualification and also as a possible dress rehearsal for the FA Cup final. 
(Image courtesy of www.bluewings.kr)

Last Time Out

A disappointing result last weekend saw Suwon's winless run extend to 5 games as they succumbed to a late goal to draw in Pohang 1-1, their 3rd consecutive draw by that scoreline.

Despite taking the lead through a superb Park Ki-dong goal and appearing comfortable for almost the entire 90 minutes, Suwon somehow conspired to allow Yang Dong-hyun to sneak into the box unmarked and score a goal that keeps Pohang's head just above water.

Meanwhile, Ulsan experienced their own disappointment also recording a 1-1 draw away to bottom club Gwangju, a result which leaves their title aspirations looking increasingly ambitious.

Ulsan, much like Suwon, took a 1st half lead courtesy of Kim In-sung and looked to be cruising to a crucial 3 points until a Gwangju equaliser forced both teams to share the spoils, a result which helped neither team.

Team News

For the first time in a very long time Suwon were set to go into this weekend with a full squad of players available for Seo Jung-won to chose from. However, the shock news of Matthew Jurman's heavy handed suspension for a hand gesture made during the 1-1 draw against Jeonbuk means the Australian will now miss the next 2 games.

Star forward Johnathan made his comeback from injury last weekend as a late substitute in the game against Pohang and should be in line to make his first start since early August. The Brazilian should be joined upfront by the in-form Park Ki-dong who now has 2 goals in the last 2 games and appears to finally be growing into his role at the club.

The Adversary

Although they had a slow start to the season, only winning 2 of their first of their first 7 league games, and coming very close to being knocked out of the ACL by Hong Kong Premier league team Kitchee, an extremely good run of form in May saw Ulsan climb the table and they have been comfortably sitting in 2nd or 3rd place in the table for most of the season.

Despite a managerial change in the winter along with the big name signing of Lee Jong-ho, Ulsan are again one of the more defensive minded teams in the league this year. They have consistently excelled in defence, and only Jeonbuk, Jeju and Seoul have a better defensive record. Their defence has often kept them in games, a point which is highlighted by the number of games they have won by a single goal margin.

Ulsan are yet to lose to Suwon this season, having won 2 games and drawn the other previous meeting this year and they remain unbeaten, in the league, against Suwon since 2015.

Who To Watch

Ulsan's defence has been imperious this season and much of that is due to the performance of Austrian centre back Richard Windbichler. The former Austria Wien player has been in impressive form and his dominant and aggressive style of defending has brought an edge to an Ulsan team that disappointed for much of last season. His characteristic attacking bursts from defence have also been a feature of his impressive play and his battle against Suwon's Johnathan could the key to this game.

Prediction

With both teams in winless slumps this game could be destined for another score draw, a result that wouldn't help either team. However, the return of Johnathan after such a lengthy lay-off could be the catalyst that Suwon need to break their slump and this may be the game that the Brazilian announces his return to the Kleague.

Suwon 1-0 Ulsan

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