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Preview: Gangwon FC vs Suwon Bluewings


Two out of form teams meet in the K League 1 on Wednesday night as Suwon Bluewings face Gangwon FC at the Chuncheon Stadium. Suwon come into this game of the back of a boring goalless draw in the Supermatch on Sunday afternoon, whilst Gangwon conceded 3 goals for the 2nd time in a week as they went down to bottom of the table Ulsan Hyundai. 
(image via http://sports.news.naver.com/kfootball)

Last Time Out

Gangwon had a disappointing day at the office on Sunday as they were humiliated by bottom of the table Ulsan, going down 3-1 away from home. Ulsan took the lead early in the game and despite being put under pressure by Gangwon the home team were handed an advantage in the game when Gangwon's Diego was given his marching orders after bringing down Orsic in the penalty area and was deemed to have denied a clear goal scoring opportunity. Orsic coolly slotted away the resulting penalty and although the ten men of Gangwon pulled a goal back shortly after, a Kim In-sung goal ensured that Ulsan picked up their first points of the season.

Meanwhile, Suwon played out a boring 0-0 draw with FC Seoul in what has been dubbed in some quarters as the worst Super Match in history. Neither team created any real sustained attacking pressure and, in the end, two stubborn and well organised teams cancelled each other out. The only 'highlight' of the game came in the 2nd half when Suwon's Choi Sung-geon was controversially given a straight red for a clumsy challenge on Jung Hyeon-cheol. Despite their numerical advantage Seoul were unable to break down Suwon's rearguard and both teams shared the spoils.

Previous Meetings

These teams played out some entertaining games last season with a total of 17 goals being scored across the four games. Suwon famously secured their first league win of the 2017 season when they beat Gangwon 2-1 in late April. Matthew Jurman was the scorer of both Suwon goals that day and a last minute, injury time penalty save secured all 3 points for the team in blue.

Gangwon, however, created a little bit of history for themselves in the follow up game at Big Bird stadium in June. Suwon were cruising their way to victory having been leading 3-1 at halftime. But a goal from Lee Geun-ho and then a 93rd minute own goal from Cho Won-hee was enough to complete an epic comeback and seal a 3-3 draw.

And yet more goals were scored when Gangwon returned to the Big Bird in August. A fine display of attacking football secured Gangwon's first victory against Suwon Bluewings for 4 years. On that day goals from Ahn Ji-ho, Diego and a late Hwang Jin-sung penalty did the job for Gangwon.

Reality set in for their final game of the season and after two high scoring games Suwon and Gangwon played out a relatively low key game largely due to Jung Jo-gook's first half red card for an off the ball incident. Goals from Johnathan and Lee Yong-rae handed all 3 points to Suwon as the game finished in quite a drab 2-1 victory for the home side.

Team News

Choi Sung-geon's red card in the Super Match means he will now serve a 3 match suspension, severely limiting Suwon's midfield options over the upcoming games. Cho Won-hee is the natural replacement for the young midfielder and will most likely slot in alongside Kim Jong-woo in the centre of midfield.

With this being the 2nd game of what will be 6 games in 18 days it is expected that Seo Jung-won will make wholesale changes from the team that performed so tamely against Seoul just days ago. And with such a flat attacking performance it's likely that the entire front three could be rotated giving opportunities to Waguininho, Lim Sang-hyub and Yoon Yong-ho.

The Adversary

Some good business in the winter transfer window set Gangwon up nicely for the new season and the new foreign signings, in particular, hit the ground running. A home victory over Incheon on the opening day was followed up by an impressive 2-1 away to Seoul. The Seoul performance was particularly impressive as they blew away a static Seoul defence and should have realistically scored more than just the 2 goals they did.

However, the wheels have begun to fall of what appeared to be an unstoppable juggernaut lately and back-to-back 3-1 defeats to Gyeongnam and Ulsan have exposed the flaws in the Gangwon backline. They are yet to keep a clean sheet this season and will need to improve their defending if they are to build upon the promise they showed at the beginning of the season.

Who To Watch

With Gangwon hemorrhaging goals at an alarming rate they will most certainly be looking to their defence to curb their run of 3 goal defeats. Towering defender Valentinos Sielis will be instrumental in keeping Suwon at arms length and the Cypriot has been a mainstay of the team this season making a valuable contribution to Gangwon's blistering early season form. It's unclear who he will square off against in the Suwon attack but whoever is leading the line for Suwon will have their hands full with a player who is slowly making a name for himself in Korea.

Suwon have struggled in attack recently so it may come as a surprise that defender Lee Ki-je is possibly the most important player in the team at the moment. The left wing-back is one of the few players in the squad who can escape criticism for his performances this season and when Suwon have performed well he has been instrumental in the victories. He is currently the team's top goalscorer this season with 3 goals and his directness in attack has been a rarity in a team that opts for a sideways pass too often.

Prediction

Gangwon may not be in the greatest of form but they are certainly facing Suwon at the right time. Suwon's recent home form is a concern and they appeared to be a team drained of confidence during the Super Match. But, Suwon have been imperious away from home for a very long time and have won all their games away from home in 2018. However, with the quality that Gangwon possesses in attack I think this could be the game when that winning streak is broken.

Gangwon FC 2-1 Suwon Bluewings

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