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playoffs

Preview: Gangwon FC vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

K League 1 Round 9 Preview: Gangwon FC vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
An unstoppable force meets an unmovable object. Gangwon FC have scored more goals than any other team aside from Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, but they come up against Jeonbuk’s rock-solid defense which has only conceded four goals in eight games so far this season. Gangwon got back to winning ways at the weekend, ending a run of four defeats on the trot with a four-one hammering of bottom club Jeonnam Dragons, but Jeonnam’s Honam rivals are at the opposite end of the table and will be a far tougher test for Gangwon. Steve Price previews what may well be the match of the round.
(Photo via KLeague.com)

Game: Gangwon FC vs. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Kick off: Wednesday, April 25th. 20.00 KST
Venue: Songam Sports Town, Chuncheon.

Last Time Out


Gangwon travelled to Gwangyang on the back of four straight defeats, but didn’t take long to show their dominance over a poor Jeonnam side. Gangwon targetman Uros Djeric opened the scoring on 8 minutes after controlling a Lee Geun-ho cross on his chest then muscling past a Jeonnam defender. Djeric added a second not long after, winning the ball after pressing the Jeonnam defense before shooting past the goalkeeper. Gangwon added a third goal ten minutes before the break, Jeong Seok-hwa curling a free kick into the top corner after Diego had been brought down on the edge on the penalty area.

Early in the second half, Jeonnam split the Gangwon defense and goalkeeper Kim Ho-jun brought down Jeonnam’s attacker. The Gangwon keeper received a straight red card for a professional foul. But it was his Jeonnam counterpart who will have red cheeks after this game. On 67 minutes, Diego took the ball from deep within his own half and dribbled past several Jeonnam players before passing the ball. It came to Djeric on the far side of the area. The angle was against the Gangwon forward and he shot low straight at the Jeonnam goalkeeper who somehow let the ball spill through his legs and over the goalline. Djeric had his hat-trick but was a little too embarrassed to celebrate it. Kim Young-wook got Jeonnam a consolation goal late on and the match finished 4-1 to Gangwon.

Previous Meetings


Gangwon will be hoping to forget about the last time these two sides met. Jeonbuk, despite being the away side, thrashed Gangwon 4-0 towards the end of last season. Lee Jae-sung ran the show for Jeonbuk, getting three assists. Lopes opened the scoring before Lee Seung-gi and Edu scored in the second half, and Lee Dong-gook added a fourth in injury time. Like I said, the less written about that match, the better.

Gangwon Team News


Kim Ho-jun is suspended following his red card against Jeonnam, but his replacement Lee Beom-young is considered by Gangwon as an equal, rather than a back-up ‘keeper. Lee Beom-young started in goal in Gangwon’s win over Sangju, and by all accounts had a good game, making a few key saves to help Gangwon to victory. He’ll be looking to make that spot between the sticks his own with a good performance against the league leaders.

The Adversary


Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors arrive in Chuncheon having not conceded in their last seven games across all competitions, collecting maximum points over the period. What makes this feat notably more impressive is that, due to the grueling schedule recently, these seven matches have been played out over a period of approximately three weeks.

Not only this, but Jeonbuk are somehow suffering an injury crisis in defense at present, with all three natural left back options injured, in addition to first team centre back Hong Jeong-ho. Choi Kang-hee has had no recognised defenders on the bench for the last two competitive fixtures, and made do with fielding defensive midfielder Shin Hyung-min at centre-back in order to play a back three at Jeju.

With Jeonbuk’s hard fought 1-0 victory over Jeju, they also lost their right-sided midfielder Ricardo Lopes to a straight red card after the Brazilian flailed his elbow at a Jeju defender when jostling for the ball. With Han Kyo-won on the long term injury list for the North Jeolla side, normal selections for the position are unavailable. It likely means either Lee Jae-sung or Tiago will come in to fill void, or the manager will opt for a 3-5-2 formation like at the weekend, using the full backs Choi Chul-soon and Lee Yong as wingers. The game may also see Son Jun-ho or Lim Sun-young take up roles in the centre of the field, perhaps alongside backup options Jang Yun-ho or Jeong Hyeok to offer some rotation.

With the team needing to be ready for the visit of second placed Suwon on Sunday, the trip to Gangwon would perhaps have normally seen some rotation. However, there is not that luxury at present, with the only change in personnel likely to be the forward line, with Kim Shin-wook likely to be rested for Adriano who remained an used substitute on Sunday. So far, the busy fixture pile up has yet to take it’s toll on Jeonbuk, but with a crucial clash with Buriram United in two weeks, and games every three to four days in between, somewhere legs will have to be rested.

Written by Matt Binns

One To Watch


Uros Djeric is a complete forward. Pacy, good in the air, and has an eye for goals. He is currently the K-League's top scorer and is also in the top five for assists. Certainly an early contender for player of the season, Djeric always puts a shift in, with many of Gangwon's goals resulting from him pressing the opposition's defense and winning the ball off them. Djeric plays in the center of Gangwon's attacking trio. Korean international Lee Geun-ho plays on one side of Djeric, with the slot on the other side rotating between Diego and 2016 golden boot winner Jung Jo-gook.

Prediction


Gangwon can score for fun, but unfortunately their defense isn’t up to much, and it is hard to imagine that they will get their first clean sheet of the season against Jeonbuk’s strikeforce. Expect goals at both ends, with the away side just edging it to notch up their eighth victory of the campaign.

Gangwon 2 – Jeonbuk 4 (Steve)
Gangwon 0 – Jeonbuk 1 (Matt)

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