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Preview: Jeju United vs Ulsan Hyundai

K League 1 Preview: Jeju United vs Ulsan Hyundai

Jeju United welcome Ulsan Hyundai on Sunday night in K League 1 action, with both teams seemingly headed in different directions at the moment.  Both clubs enter the match off of cup wins in midweek, but the islanders form in the league of late has been well under par, being winless in their last three matches, while Ulsan are unbeaten in their last three.  With both sides locked on the same number of points, it figures to be a pivotal clash as they set up for the rest of the season.  K League United columnists Branko Belan and Dan Croydon sat down to preview the upcoming match.

Match: Jeju United vs Ulsan Hyundai
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday July 29th, 2018, 19:00 KST

Last Time Out

Gangwon FC 3-1 Jeju United

Gangwon moved themselves into position for a run at the top half of the league with a big win at home against Jeju.  Things took a turn in favor of the home team just past the quarter of an hour when Cho Yong-hyung committed a foul in the box and it was up to Jung Jo-gook to convert from the spot, as he beat Lee Chang-keun with a low shot to put the hosts into the lead.  

Jeju would answer shortly thereafter with a goal of their own, as they capitalized on a turnover in the offensive third, allowing Lee Chang-min to win a corner, from which Kweon Han-jin rose above the defense and looped a header over Ham Seok-min.  The islanders would have the best chance of the half when Tiago had space in the box from a decent position in the 38th minute, but Ham stretched to his left to keep the ball out, and the sides went to the break all square.

The second half was a bit of a stalemate, until Uros Đerić entered the fray in the 67th minute.  That changed the complexion of the match in decided favor of the hosts, and they were rewarded with their efforts moving forward, when the Serbian striker put them into the lead with ten minutes to go, following some miscommunication of the left side of the Jeju defense, and the league's leading scorer was able to head in from close range.  He would complete his brace just before the end of regular time with a shot from distance that beat Lee with relative ease.  It was a dominating second half performance which saw the hosts take all three points, while Jeju have a lot of work to do in order to stay in the hunt for a Champions League place for next season.

Highlights: here

Ulsan Hyundai 2-0 Daegu FC

Ulsan is starting to gather some momentum following a loss to Jeonbuk after the World Cup break, getting a win at home against Daegu by a pair of goals over the weekend.  Both teams started the match brightly, looking quick in transition out of their respective defensive thirds, but the back lines and the goalkeepers kept things scoreless for the majority of the first half.  It would be Ulsan who would jump into the lead with ten minutes left before the break, when Kang Min-su tapped in from close range following a flick into the six yard box off of a corner.  There was a bit of speculation in terms of offside, but the goal stood, and the hosts went to the break a goal to the good.

Junior could have had the home team two up in the 52nd minute, when he cut in on a defender in close, but his effort at goal was blocked and then cleared off the line by the Daegu defense.  The away side continued to look good in possession for stretches in the second half, but their accuracy deserted them in front of goal.  Things would turn for Ulsan with under ten minutes to go, as Cho Hyun-woo handled the ball outside the area and was immediately dismissed.  His replacement, Choi Young-eun, then promptly denied Junior from the ensuing free kick, but the Brazilian would have the last laugh in injury time, as he capitalized on the young goalkeeper spilling the ball, putting his close range effort into the roof of the net.

Highlights: here

Team News

Jeju advanced to the Round of 16 in the FA Cup following a 4-1 win over Korea University in midweek.  The first half was quite uneventful, with the islanders only managing a goal for their efforts, as Cho Sung-hwan fielded what was mainly a B side.  The difference was Tiago, who entered the match in the second half, and took matters into his own hands, scoring a brace inside of six minutes to put the match away.

With the transfer window still open, Jeju has not done much at all, as they will be expecting the return of some of their players from military service in the fall.  Roberson, the Brazilian who joined the team on loan in the off-season, got the start on Wednesday night, and did not show well once again, prompting concerns regarding his future with the club.  His loan spell will be up at the end of the year, but another lackluster performance just may spell the end of him in a Jeju shirt this season.

Kweon Han-jin and Cho Yong-hyung both picked up yellow cards against Gangwon, which will make the team selection a bit tricky for Sunday, with a host of players already on cautions going into the match.  It could be possible that another rotational lineup will be used, but it remains to be seen what the final team sheet will look like.  United has played mostly in a 3-5-2 of late, with mixed results, so tactics will also be important in how the match plays out over ninety minutes.  Jeju badly need a win, so Cho needs to think about fielding his best lineup.

For Ulsan, Han Seung-kyu is suspended.  Hwang Il-soo will most likely return on left wing after being rested for the FA Cup, while new signing Mix Diskerud could be set to make his K League debut, having gotten the start in midweek and playing well, according to Ulsan Hyundai columnist Daniel Croydon.

Previous Meetings

Jeju won earlier in the season by a single goal when the two sides met at Munsu in March. However, both teams are on different fortunes at the moment, and Ulsan looked quite good moving the ball offensively against Daegu, and definitely have the weapons to be dangerous up front.

Jeju have had the advantage between the two recently however, and will be hoping that their form against their visitors on Sunday will mirror last season, when they took three of four, and have also won three in a row against the Horang-i. One thing should be certain, however, and that is that the match will be a close one, with most of the recent meetings being decided by a goal, the only exception being a 3-0 Jeju win in the first meeting between the teams last season.

The Adversary

This game is the first in a run of season-defining fixtures for the Horang-i.  After their trip to Jeju, they host Jeonnam Dragons, then they face Suwon and Gyeonnam in the same week, both of whom sit above them in the table as it stands.  If Ulsan can continue to grind out results, as they have of late, they will be in a strong position going into the final months of the season.  However, defeats at the hands of their top half rivals would make continental qualification increasing unlikely.

So, the pressure is on Ulsan to come away from the island with at least a point.  Current form may suggest Kim Do-hoon's men should be confident of doing that.  However, the new-look attack is still a work in progress, and Ulsan have yet to put together a fluid performance since the World Cup break.  Fans making the trip to Jeju will be hoping Sunday is the day things finally click for the Horang-i.  A rare win away to Jeju would go a long way in re-igniting what has thus far been a fairly mediocre season for the south coast club.


This will be a close match.  Both teams need a result for different reasons - Jeju to regain some lost momentum after the World Cup break, and Ulsan to continue their climb upward in the table.

However, these two teams have had a knack of cancelling each other out on the pitch dating back the past few seasons, and the upcoming fixture looks as though it won't be much different.  As usual, nuances will decide the outcome, as is usually the case between these two, but instead of an outright winner this time around, it could be a share of the spoils as they continue their head-to-head tussle for an ACL berth for next season.

Prediction: Jeju United 1-1 Ulsan Hyundai

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