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Preview: Bucheon 1995 vs Busan IPark

Early pace-setters Bucheon 1995 host fellow promotion hopefuls Busan IPark this weekend in the K League 2. After a blistering start, Bucheon have wobbled of late, losing three league games on the bounce. Now may be the perfect time to play their first home game of the season.
(Image via K League)

Last Time Out

Bucheon 1995 travelled to Ansan to play the in-form Greeners, the league's surprise package of the season so far. Bucheon took the lead through Lee Kwang-jae after ten minutes, but Liberian striker Seku Conneh levelled things up before the break. A second half brace from Ansan's Choi Ho-joo claimed the points for Ansan, leaving Bucheon down in third place in the league standings.

Busan IPark had a happier time of things last weekend at the Gudeok Stadium. Visitors Anyang held a dangerously high line all afternoon, allowing Busan's forwards to run riot with runs behind the defence. Striker Choi Seung-in broke the deadlock midway through the first half with a well-taken goal following Lee Dong-jun's ball over the top, before a red card for Anyang's Chae Gwang-hoon three minutes later effectively ended the contest. A long goal-kick from Busan keeper Koo Sang-min caught out Anyang's defensive line, and defender Chae clumsily brought down Lee Dong-jun as he ran in on goal.

The second half continued in much the same vein as the first, with Busan's impressive midfield trio of Romulo, Lee Jae-kwon and Lee Gyu-seong picking balls behind the poorly organised Anyang defence. Choi Seung-in scored his second of the game when Lee Gyu-seong beat the offside trap from Romulo's pass and teed up the striker for a simple finish. Substitute Jonathan Balotelli added the icing on the cake with a brilliantly taken debut goal, beating two defenders before curling a delicious effort into the corner from outside the box. The result took Busan up to fifth, four points behind league leaders Seongnam.

Previous Meetings

This is the second meeting between Bucheon and Busan this season. At the start of this month the two teams met at Busan's Gudeok Stadium for an FA Cup tie. Bucheon, coming off five straight wins, were flying at the time and took the opportunity to rest several key players. A stunning free kick from Song Hong-min gave them the lead, but a strong Busan team turned things around in the second half with goals from Alemao Junior and Kim Jin-gyu.

The result was a turning point in Bucheon's excellent start to the season, as they have since shipped goals and lost three games on the trot.

Who To Watch

For Bucheon, Willian Popp will be chomping at the bit to face his old club from the south coast. In 2016 Popp was Busan IPark's key player, the Brazilian winger/striker scoring 18 league goals which saw him named in the league's team of the season.

Last year Popp transferred to Japanese second division side Avispa Fukuoka but mainly featured from the substitutes' bench and failed to find the back of the net. Returning to Korea this year has seen an instant revival in form, and Popp already has five goals from his seven appearances in 2018, which sees him top of the league's scoring charts. In his last appearance, Popp was sent off against Seongnam and therefore missed Bucheon's defeat at Ansan, but he'll be back in the fray this weekend and Busan will be all too wary of his ability.

For Busan, Jonathan Balotelli's lively 20 minute debut against Anyang will have fans hoping for more of the same. The Brazilian played out on the left wing and showed some excellent touches and great acceleration before scoring a wonderful individual goal. After missing the first few games of the season through injury, Balotelli looked sharp and hungry, and he could be the missing piece from Busan's often faltering attack this season.


Bucheon come into the game on poor form, but this is their first game of the season at home after an extended tour of the K League 2 grounds. Busan will be confident of scoring against a leaky defence, especially after the ease with which they dispatched Anyang, but it's hard to see the excellent Willian Popp not scoring against his old club, and I expect Bucheon to end their losing run.

Bucheon 1995 2-2 Busan IPark

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