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Preview: Suwon Bluewings vs Incheon United

Suwon Bluewings' Cho Wonhee and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors' Ricardo Lopes
Two teams who are in serious danger of losing ground at either end of the table meet on Wednesday night, when the ACL-chasing Suwon Bluewings meet relegation-threatened, Incheon United at Suwon World Cup Stadium. With Incheon now four points adrift at the bottom of the table and Suwon needing points to keep up with the pace being set by the likes of Gyeongnam FC and Jeju United, neither team can afford to drop points in what is a must win game for both teams. 
(Image via K League)

Last Time Out

On Saturday evening, Suwon crashed to an embarrassing home defeat at the hand of champions in waiting, Jeonbuk. Suwon put up a decent enough performance in the first half but went behind to a superbly taken goal from Lopes. The winger escaped the attention of first, Lee Jong-sung, and then Jang Ho-ik, to expertly bend the ball into the far post from the edge of the area.

Jeonbuk really began to turn the screw after half time and their intensity and desire to not only win, but humiliate Suwon on their own patch, was evident in every area of the pitch. With Suwon barely able to complete one forward pass, Lopes profited from dodgy defending to dispatch his second of the game. And by the time that Yang Sang-min had backed off substitute Adriano for 10 seconds too long, the game was all but over.

Jeonbuk not only proved just how good of a team they are, but also proved just how far behind the chasing pack Suwon are. Suwon are probably the closest rivals to the Hyundai-owned powerhouse but, judging by this performance, they are light years away from the boys in green.

Meanwhile, Incheon's poor run of results continued after they were well beaten away to Gyeongnam. A flurry of late second half goals from Kunimoto and Marcao (two) were enough to see Geyongnam run out winners by three-goals-to-nil. Incheon's winless run has now reached fifteen games and leaves new manager, Jørn  Andersen with a mountain to climb to keep the Durumi in the league.

Previous Meetings

Suwon and Incheon played out one of the most entertaining games of the 2018 K League 1 season in April when Suwon made the short journey to Incheon and triumphed as 3-2 winners. A superb strike from Aguilar gave Incheon a surprise lead but they were soon pegged back by a Jeon Se-jin header, the 18 year-old scoring on his full debut. Incheon started the second half strongly and Moon Seon-min gave the home team a deserved lead in the 56th minute. But a superb fightback from Suwon began when Lim Sang-hyub pounced on a loose ball to level things up in the 67th minute. And that fightback was completed in second half stoppage time when a corner was well cleared by Incheon but Park Hyung-jin fired a thunderbolt of a strike, into the bottom right-hand corner to send the traveling fans into ecstasy.

Incheon have not fared well in this fixture and they are yet to pick up a victory in their last 15 games against the Bluewings, their last victory coming in the 2013 season. And you have to go back to the 2009 season for the last time that Incheon were victorious on Suwon soil. In total, over 41 games, Incheon have only managed a meager five wins, compared to Suwon's 24.

Team News

Seo Jung-won has no new suspensions to contend with for this game but after Suwon's poor showing against Jeonbuk, mass rotation should be expected for Incheon's visit. Lee Jong-sung recently celebrated making his 100th professional appearance but will likely drop out of the centre of defence on Wednesday night, as too may Yang Sang-min. The 34 year old played three full games in seven days last week and, having not featured for the entirety of the season. understandably looked drained of energy towards the end of the Jeonbuk game.

It's unclear as to which U-23 player Seo Jung-won will select, and although 22 year old midfielder, Kim Jun-hyung, acquitted himself well in his debut against Jeonnam last Wednesday, he was subbed off at half time against Jeonbuk. Despite having a plethora of young talent at his fingertips, Seo Jung-won has rarely given a run of games to any of the younger players in the squad, with the likes of Yoo Ju-an, Jeon Se-jin and Yoon Yong-ho only featuring a handful of times each this year.

The Adversary

Incheon United have certainly been entertaining since the World Cup break. Two 3-3 draws, followed by a 3-0 defeat to Gyeongnam at the weekend. This result means that Incheon are now bottom of the league, four points behind Daegu. Incheon’s main weakness has been an awful defence, with the worst defensive record in the league, conceding nine in their past three games.

Norwegian manager, Jørn Andersen, has had a rough introduction into the K League. He seems to have improved the midfield, but so far the defence looks worse. So heading into the game against Suwon Bluewings I’m hoping to see a few changes to the starting XI, with the keeper switching out, plus a most of the back four. Lim Eun-soo and Ko Seul-ki will both be suspended.

Incheon are really struggling at the moment and don’t have the squad strength in depth to rotate players around. So I can’t see Jørn Andersen’s men coming back home with anything, with Suwon Bluewings winning 2-0.

By Tim Barnes

Who To Watch

Based on the games against Jeonbuk and Gangwon FC, Costa Rican midfielder Elías Aguilar has been a real danger moving forward. He was suspended against Gyeongnam FC and was sorely missed. However, he should be fresh for Wednesday evening's game having had the weekend off.

One plus for Seo Jung-won has been the form of recent signing Han Eui-kwon. The former Daejeon Citizen forward was a thorn in Jeonnam's side and was Suwon's only bright spark in their loss to Jeonbuk. He has the pace and trickery that Suwon most desperately needed and looks to be an astute signing. Given Incheon's flaws at the back Han may feel confident that this will be the game when he opens his Suwon goal scoring account.

Prediction

Incheon are on an incredible winless run, but there are signs that Suwon's home curse has not truly been shaken. After having struggled at home for much of the last two seasons, they have only managed to win three of their 10 home league games in 2018. Much of that is due to the formation that they play and when teams sit in and don't provide any space for Suwon to counter attack, they are severely blunted. This game could certainly follow a similar pattern and, if Incheon are able to dig in and defend their penalty area, they could return home with a precious point.

Suwon Bluewings 0-0 Incheon United

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