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Writers' Chat: Incheon United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

K League 1 2018 Round 2 Preview: Incheon United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

After an opening day defeat, Incheon United host their first home K League 1 game of the season against defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Incheon United columnist Tim Barnes sat down with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors correspondent Matthew Binns about what to expect when these two sides meet.

Matt Binns Asks, Tim Barnes Answers

Matt Binns: Incheon United fell to an opening day defeat away to Gangwon FC last weekend, eventually losing 2-1. How did you rate their performance and were there any encouraging signs for fans to take heart from?

Tim Barnes: Overall I felt like it was a solid performance, with the main issue being match sharpness. Gangwon capitalized on a couple of mistakes and so deserved to win. There were some encouraging signs, Stefan Mugoša settled into the pace of the K League quickly and Appiah-Kubi showed signs of things to come with his pace and heart. On the whole is looks like an improved side compared to last season.

MB: New signing Stefan Mugoša at least got off the mark on his debut, pulling a goal back at two goals down to give Incheon United a lifeline. While it is still early days, what are you hoping he will add to the team as the season progresses?

TB: Fingers crossed yes. Stefan is the type of forward that does well in the K League. He's similar to Dejan Damjanović (Suwon Bluewings) and Christian Dănălache (previously at Daejeon and Gyeongnam). He shows great awareness and positioning, plus he can finish.

MB: Will Incheon United make any changes to the side to counter specific threats from Jeonbuk on Saturday?

TB: 10 at the back!...Well maybe not that extreme, but Jeonbuk are so dangerous moving forward I'll expect Incheon to lineup defensively. 5-2-2-1, with maybe Aguilar and Song Si-Woo starting ahead of Appiah-Kubi and Kim Jin-Ya. Looking to counter, or score via a set-piece.

MB: How do you see the game playing out?

TB: Over the years the Incheon-Jeonbuk games haven't always been the most entertaining, and I don't expect this one to be any different. Incheon will look to counter and Jeonbuk may do the same. I see a goal each in the 2nd half, with Jeonbuk breaking the deadlock.

Tim's Predicted Score: Incheon United 1 - 1 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Tim Barnes Asks, Matt Binns Answers

Tim Barnes: Jeonbuk have already played 4 games this season (1 league / 3 ACL). With yet another ACL game next week ahead of a big league game vs. FC Seoul, do you think that Jeonbuk have the strength in depth to overcome Incheon on Saturday?

Matt Binns: I think you need only look at the substitute bench from Tuesday evening to find the answer to your question. Lee Dong-gook, Adriano, Tiago and Son Jun-ho all did not start, with only the former two making second half cameo appearances in the side's rampant 6-3 victory. Newly acquired centre back Hong Jeong-ho was also absent with suspension, so it is likely at least four of these five players will start on Saturday afternoon, with perhaps Lee Dong-gook most likely being the one to make a late appearance. Having also nearly secured their passage to the Champions League knockouts, and with a visit from a Kitchee SC side that are effectively out of the competition still to come, Jeonbuk can also afford to send a weaker team to China next week, allowing them to focus on the upcoming league games either side of the fixture against Incheon United and FC Seoul.

TB: Jeonbuk haven't lost to Incheon since April 2013, an undefeated run that now stretches 15 games (8 wins and 7 draws)! What's been the secret to five years of success against Incheon?

MB: It would seem obvious, but the chasm of financial resources available to each club is too vast. Jeonbuk have won the league nearly every year since 2014, with copious amounts of reinvestment each winter to ensure their squad stays as strong as possible. As a citizen owned club, Incheon United on the other hand have never had that option open to them and they suffered especially when the city hosted the 2014 Asian Games. Unlike Jeonbuk, their winter windows are ones more of upheaval than addition. Perhaps the seven draws is the more interesting part of that statistic though, and shows just how difficult Incheon have proved to defeat for a team expected to be one of the favourites in every competition they enter. Anyone expecting Jeonbuk just to show and take all three points are clearly unaware of how much fight Incheon United can muster up on these occasions.

TB: Jeonbuk have looked impressive in their opening four games, do you feel like complacently might hurt them against Incheon?
MB: It would not be the first time complacency would have hurt Jeonbuk against Incheon, you need only to look at the four draws in last six meetings for evidence of that. However, as alluded to, there is a lot of first team talent at Jeonbuk residing on the bench and desperate to prove themselves, particularly the likes of Adriano and Tiago whose inclusion in the squad has been fairly inconsistent. The drive of these players should ensure Jeonbuk avoid complacency in what could prove to be a trickier than expected test.

TB: Finally what do you think will happened on Saturday afternoon? Plus Score Prediction?

MB: I do not expect Incheon United to collapse as easily as Tianjin Quanjian did earlier in the week, especially as this is their first home match of the season. I would guess that Jeonbuk may spend the first half getting a feel for the match before finding a way through in the second half and leaving with a victory.

Matthew's Predicted Score: Incheon United 0 - 1 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

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