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Preview: Busan IPark vs Seongnam FC

Two-thirds of the way through the K League 2 season and fallen giants Busan IPark and Seongnam FC are both in the thick of the hunt for promotion. Seongnam lead the pack but Busan could close the gap to the top of the table to three points with a victory at the Gudeok Stadium on Monday night. After taking Seoul E-Land to the sword with a 5-0 drubbing last weekend, Busan might be hitting form just at the right time.

Last Time Out

Busan IPark recorded their best victory of the season with a 5-0 hammering away to Seoul E-Land last Saturday. Brazilian playmaker Romulo started the rout with a curling effort over E-Land keeper Glory in the 15th minute. With the score at 1-0, E-Land were unlucky not to square things up when Choi Oh-baek curled an effort against the post from 25 yards. Then, with ten minutes of the half remaining, Kim Jin-gyu beat his man inside the box and delivered an enticing ball across the six-yard box for Choi Seung-in to score his first goal in almost four months.

Choi scored again on the hour mark with a smart flick to divert Lee Jae-Kwon's shot beyond Glory, and any hopes of an E-Land comeback were snuffed out when Jeon Min-Kwang was sent off for bringing down Busan substitute Lee Dong-jun as he raced through on goal. From the resulting free-kick, the increasingly influential Romulo produced another pin-point finish to take his tally for the season to seven goals in all competitions. Against Seoul's ten men Busan could have scored any number of goals, with Kim Jin-gyu and Ko Kyung-min missing chances, but it was Lee Dong-jun who scored the fifth with a well-taken volley after Ko's headed flick-on.

You can watch the highlights from that game here.

The following day, Seongnam re-established their six-point lead over Busan with a 1-0 victory away to the free-falling Ansan Greeners. Seo Bo-min scored the winning goal to claim the Magpies' first win in four games and keep them in pole position for automatic promotion.

You can watch highlights of Seongnam's victory here.

Previous Meetings

This is the third meeting between these sides this year. On the opening day of the season, an injury-time penalty from Eder denied Busan the points after Kim Jin-gyu had given Busan the lead. More recently, Busan edged a 1-0 win with a deflected effort from Kim Hyun-sung the only difference between the teams.

Things were just as close last year, with each team winning one game apiece while the other two meetings ended in draws.

Team News

After mixing and matching regularly in the early stages of the season, Busan coach Choi Yoon-gyeom has settled on a regular spine to the team. Koo Sang-min has seven clean sheets in twelve games and should continue in goal, while veteran full-backs Lee Jong-min and Kim Chi-woo rarely miss a game. In the centre of defence, Park Tae-hong seems to have emerged as Choi's preferred partner for Kim Myung-joon, while the midfield triangle of Lee Jae-kwon, Romulo and Ko Kyung-min essentially pick themselves.

Busan will still be without winger Kim Moon-hwan, who played an important part in Korea's resounding 6-0 victory over Bahrain in the Asian Games with the assist for the opening goal. In his place, Lee Dong-jun is pushing Han Ji-ho and Kim Jin-gyu for a starting spot after a lively cameo last weekend. Choi Seung-in, who scored twice against E-Land to end his goal drought, is likely to keep his place up front, while Dutchman Arsenio Valpoort may have to settle for a place on the bench once more after watching the thumping of E-Land from the dugout.

Who To Watch

Busan's 5-0 win last weekend means they now tie Seongnam as the league's top scorers, and the Magpies' defence will be wary of the visitors' threat. Vital to their defensive unit is Yun Young-sun, a long-serving centre-back who was part of the Korean defence that kept Germany at bay in the World Cup. Tall, composed, and vastly experienced, Yun will be key to keeping the likes of Ko Kyung-min and Kim Jin-gyu quiet.

Prediction

There's usually very little between these teams but this is a great opportunity for Busan to close the gap on the league leaders. The home side won't enjoy the kind of freedom they got last weekend in the capital, but their tails will be up and a few players might just be hitting form at the right time. Seongnam are still racking up points at a decent rate, but they're not in the best of form and this will be a tight one.

Busan IPark 1-0 Seongnam FC



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