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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Ulsan Hyundai

Jeonnam Dragons welcome Ulsan Hyundai to Gwangyang Football Stadium this Sunday evening at 7 pm in round 21 of K League 1. Can Jeonnam return to winning ways at home or will Ulsan become the ninth team this season to leave Gwangyang with at least a point. Aodan Halligan and Daniel Croydon preview this weekend's game. 

Game: Jeonnam Dragons v Ulsan Hyundai
Venue: Gwangyang Football Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday 7 pm

Last Time Out

Jeonnam Dragons suffered their sixth home defeat of the season against Incheon United last Saturday evening in Gwangyang. And the 1-3 loss could have serious repercussions for the Dragons' K League 1 future as not only did it push them back into the relegation zone, it also allowed an ever improving Incheon side to leapfrog above them in the table.

But, Jeonnam have only themselves to blame for their latest defeat as they had Incheon  on the ropes early on, yet failed to put them to the sword. Lee Sang-hyeon gave the hosts the lead in the 17th minute after being put through on goal by Han Chan-hee. After picking the ball up in the right-hand side of the penalty box, the 20-year-old former Ulsan player turned back beautifully with his right foot, took one touch with his left and then rifled the ball into the roof of the net. The goal, Lee's maiden strike for the club, had shades of Dennis Bergkamp about it and is surely a strong contender for goal of the month. However, the Dragons then missed a golden chance to double their advantage in the 24th minute, Kim Sun-woo mishitting his effort from around eight yards out. And the home side were made pay for their profligacy just three minutes later, Nam Jun-jae profiting from some terrible defending from Lee Seul Chan before crossing the ball to Stefan Mugosa at the edge of the six yard box - and the 26-year-old Montenegrin striker slid in to send the ball into the right-hand corner of the net.

The teams may have been inseparable going in at half time, but the second half belonged to the visitors. Incheon took the lead for the first time in the game in the 59th minute, Park Jong-min curling in a beautiful effort into the bottom left corner after a great run from substitute Moon Seon-min. And Muguso sealed the three points for the vistors with his second of the game just eight minutes later, beating Dragons' keeper Lee Ho-seung at his near post - with the aid of a deflection from Dragons' center back James Donachie. The Dragons huffed and puffed after that but Incheon held on to win the crucial relegation six-pointer.

Full Time: Jeonnam Dragons 1 Incheon United 3

Highlights: here

Meanwhile, Ulsan Hyundai had to settle for a share of the spoils against Jeju United last Sunday in a battle between K League 1's fifth and fourth placed teams on Jeju Island. And the visitors were made work for their point as the home side took the lead on the stroke of half time - courtesy of another goal of the month contender - as Lee Chang-min's vicious 45 minute effort from fully forty yards out almost burst the left hand corner of the net. But never ones to lie down, the Horangi (tigers) fought their way back into the game in the second half.

In the 50th minute, Horangi midfielder Lee Dong's ball over the top sent Hwang Il-soo clear down the left wing and his low cross caused pandemonium in the Jeju United penalty box and when the ball eventually fell to Brazilian striker Junior Negao, he kept a cool head and stroked the ball into the bottom left corner of the net. Both sides missed chances to claim the three points after that and in the end a draw was probably a fair result.

Full Time: Jeju United 1 Ulsan Hyundai 1

Previous Meetings

Jeonnam Dragons and Ulsan Hyundai last met in the league on April 28th in Munsu Football stadium in Ulsan. And both teams cancelled each other out that day in a 1-1 draw. Former Dragons' favorite Mislav Orsic scored from the penalty spot to put  the hosts in front in the 40th minute. But Jeonnam's exciting 21-year-old striker Kim Kyung-min levelled things up just four minutes later and the scores stayed the same for the rest of the game.

And even though Ulsan boast the better head-to-head record in the 43 games played between the two teams,  19 victories to Jeonnam's 13, the Dragons trashed the Horangi  5-0 on their last visit to Gwangyang in April 2017. So some of the Ulsan players don't have happy memories of their last visit to the southwestern coastal city.

Team News

Jeonnam Dragons will have to do without the services of Heo Yong-joon who injured his ankle in the 3-1 defeat to Pohang Steelers on July 21st. But, Vedran Jugovic could be in line for his first start since the 2-0 victory over Sangju Sangmu on July 14th as he was fit enough for the bench last Saturday and is training well. And recent results emphasize the Croatian midfielder's importance to the team as the Dragons have lost the last three league games he's missed.

The Adversary


With their top half rivals all facing tough games this weekend, this is something of a must-win fixture for Ulsan. Three points could see them leapfrog Jeju and narrow the gap on the third ACL qualification spot.  The three points are even more crucial considering Kim Do-hoon's side must face the highflying duo of Suwon Bluewings and Gyeongnam in their next two games.  The coming few weeks, therefore, are looking pivotal to the success of Ulsan's campaign.

Fortunately for Kim Do-hoon, he has had the rare luxury of a full week to prepare his squad for this match. The players were given a day-off to relax in Jeju after last week's draw so we can expect them to be fully recharged before they take on another brutal 90 minutes of summer night K League football.  Looking at team news, Han Seung-kyu returns from suspension and will most likely slot straight back into midfield in place of youngster Kim Dong-kyeong, who was sent on loan to FC Anyang just days after making his first-team debut last weekend.  Otherwise, Kim Do-hoon is expected to stick with the same team that took a point in Jeju. That result meant the Horangi are unbeaten in an impressive 8 games away from home.  However, they have won only two of those games - at Daegu and Sangju, which explains why they find themselves outside the top three again so far this year.  So this trip to Gwangyang will be no gimme, but it's importance to Kim Do-hoon and this Ulsan team cannot be overstated.

Dan Croydon

Who To Watch


After the recent acquisition of American international midfielder Mix Diskerud, it's safe to say Ulsan have tons of quality all over the field. However, our player to watch this week has been in fine form lately - having scored eight goals this season and two in his last two games - and helped himself to a second-half hat-trick when he visited Gwangyang last with Daegu FC in 2017. Thus, while Ulsan didn't enjoy their most recent visit to the small southwestern city, Junior Negao certainly did and will surely be looking forward to the game this Sunday and confident of adding to his season's tally.

Prediction

Jeonnam will be hoping Lee Sang-hyeon can score his second goal in two games and help sink the club he left a few months ago. However, it's at the other end of the field where the Dragons have struggled most at home this season so they'll probaly need to bag a bucket of goals like last year to have any chance to win. Unfortunately, though, I don't think lightning will strike again and since Ulsan are unbeaten in their last five games, and the Dragons have only won two of their 10 home games this season (20%), I can't see anything other than another home defeat.

Jeonnam 1 Ulsan Hyundai 3


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