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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Suwon Bluewings

Preview: Jeonnam Dragons Vs Suwon Bluewings
Jeonnam Dragons host their first home game in almost two months this Wednesday evening against Suwon Bluewings in round 16 of K League 1. The Dragons, who drew 1-1 away to Gangwon FC last Sunday, and have only failed to pick up points in one of their past seven games, will be hopeful of adding to their points total midweek. Meanwhile, the Bluewings, who dropped from second to third in the table courtesy of a 2-3 home defeat to Jeju United last Saturday, will be looking to return to winning ways and stay on the tails of the front two. Jeonnam correspondent Aodan Halligan and his Suwon counterpart Scott Whitelock preview Wednesday's game between tenth and third in K League 1. 
(image via K League)
Game: Jeonnam Dragons vs Suwon Bluewings
Venue: Gwangyang Football Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday 7pm

Last Time Out

The Jeonnam Dragons returned home from Gangwon province last Sunday night with another valuable away point. However, once again Dragons' supporters were left wondering was it a case of a point won or two points lost.

The Dragons were lightning fast out of the blocks as captain Kim Young-wook intercepted a sloppy back pass at the edge of the Gangwon penalty area in the fourth minute before silencing the home supporters with a composed side-footed finish into the bottom right corner of the net. And although the Dragons couldn't add to that total in the first half, they went in at half time fully deserving of their lead.

But, in the second half, the home side rallied and the Dragons conceded from a set piece in the 64th minute - Gangwon's Park Jung-soo taking advantage of some slack marking from a corner kick. The diminutive midfielder's late run towards the six-yard box seemed to take everyone by surprise and even though his free header lacked power, it evaded three Jeonnam defenders and Dragons' keeper Park Dae-han, before settling in the bottom right corner of the net.

The home side pressed for the winner after that but the Dragons stood firm.

Final score: Gangwon FC 1 Jeonnam Dragons 1.

Highlights: here

Meanwhile, Suwon Bluewings suffered more home misery against Jeju United last Saturday. And the home side have only themselves to blame after some shambolic defending.

Jeju defender Kwon Han-jin was the first visiting player to profit from the generous hosts in the 22nd minute, when he was gifted a free header at the edge of Suwon's six-yard box. The defender probably couldn't believe his luck after Kwon Soon-hyung's delivery from around 45 yards out flew past everyone in Suwon's rearguard to leave him unmarked a few meters from goal. And even though his header was placed straight at No Dong-geun, the Bluewings' keeper somehow couldn't keep it out. And things would only get worse for the Suwon stopper. Lee Ki-je levelled things up in the second half, though, with a neat left-footed finish from the left side of the penalty box. But Suwon fell behind again just two minutes later after a terrible back pass from Bluewings' defender Koo Ja-ryong. Jeju's Brazilian attacker Magno Cruz intercepted the pass just outside the penalty box before curling a beautiful finish into the bottom right corner.

The home side rarely go down without a good fight, however, and restored parity once more through Yang Sang-min's powerful effort from three yards out after a Bluewings' corner.

Nevertheless, Suwon pressed the self-destruct button one last time in the 88th minute after a Jeju corner when substitute Kim Jong-min and keeper No Dong-geun inexplicably jumped for the same ball. Kwon Han-jin then stroked the ball into an empty net from two yards out for his second goal of the game and this time the home side couldn't respond.

Full Time: Suwon Bluewings 2 Jeju United 3

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Goals are usually ensured when Jeonnam and Suwon hook up and only three of the 45 games between the teams have ended up scoreless. Indeed, you have to go back five years to find the last goalless tie between the teams so supporters heading to Gwangyang Football Stadium on Wednesday should be in for treat.

Jeonnam won the most recent game between the two teams in Suwon on March 1st earlier this year. Wanderson's deflected free kick put the visitors in front in the 71st minute, but Lee Ki-je drew the hosts level 14 minutes later. Choi Jae-hyun's 91st minute glancing header from a Jeonnam corner ensured the Dragons would head home with all three points, however.

Suwon boast the better head-to-head battle overall, though, winning 22 of the 45 games between the two teams. Jeonnam have only emerged victorious 13 times, while the remaining 10 matches were drawn. 

Team News

Lee Ho-seung, who was absent last week due to a back injury, should return to the squad on Wednesday, but the game has probably come too soon for him so Park Dae-han should stay between the sticks. Choi Jae-hyun has also returned to training with the Jeonnam Dragons after a three-month injury layoff, yet the Dragons' top scorer won't be rushed back into the side either. Otherwise, the Dragons should be at full strength as Croatian midfielder Vedran Jugović has recovered from a slight knock he picked up last weekend. Nevertheless, since the Dragons will play their third game in six days this Saturday, there may be a few changes in their starting eleven.

Suwon could also opt to switch things around on Wednesday because of last Saturday's defeat at home to Jeju. And after a calamitous performance that day, it's likely that goalkeeper Noh Dong-geun will drop to the bench and be replaced by Shin Hwa-yong. Matthew Jurman's transfer to Al-Ittihad leaves Seo Jung-won with little other option than to continue with Yang Sang-min at centre back, even though there are doubts over the defender's physical condition. The 34 year-old played his first minutes of 2018 at the weekend and while his general performance was okay, he looked tired and fatigued towards the end of the game.

Suwon sought to strengthen their squad this week, adding current Bosnia and Herzegovina international Elvis Sarić, former Emirates Club midfielder Park Jong-woo and current top scorer at Asan Mugunghwa Han Eui-kwon. This game may come too early for Sarić and Park, but Han has been tipped for a place on the bench.

The Adversary

Suwon reverted to type again on Saturday and lost further ground in the title race. With Jeonbuk dropping points at home to Incheon United, Suwon failed to capitalise, once again, as they meekly succumbed to Jeju United at home. Two of the Jeju goals did come from goalkeeping blunders, after Noh Dong-geun had controversially been preferred to the usual number 1, Shin Hwa-yong. But it was plain to see from the first minute that Suwon lacked enough imagination and ideas to take the game to Jeju and the visitors were full value for their three point haul. Suwon now lie a full ten points behind Jeonbuk in first place and, barring a miraculous recovery, any thought of a run at the title was probably ended with that defeat. Now is the time for Suwon to regroup, recharge and aim to focus all their efforts on claiming silverware through either the Asian Champions League or the FA Cup.
-Scott Whitelock

Who To Watch 

Lee Ki-jae (L) has two goals and two assists in the league this season. (Image via K League)

Suwon's left wing-back Lee Ki-je  will be a key player against Jeonnam on Wednesday evening. The 27-year-old former Korean under-20 international should be kept busy in defence by the likes of Dragons' wingers Kim Youn-wook and Wanderson. However, if he manages to get on the front foot, Jeonnam may suffer as he has a great eye for a pass and a lethal left foot. Lee scored last weekend and the last time these two teams met so don't be surprised if he pops up with one again.

Prediction

Strangely enough, both teams seem far more comfortable on the road this season and thus if there's going to be a winner on Wednesday, it'll probably be the away team.

Jeonnam Dragons 1 Suwon Bluewings 2





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