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Preview: Incheon United vs Gyeongnam FC

Preview: Incheon United vs Gyeongnam FC
Sunday features a K League match-up between two sides having contrasting seasons. Incheon United have struggled from the beginning and are currently three points adrift at the bottom. Whilst on the other hand, Gyeongnam have surprised everyone by being in Champions League qualification contention. But who will come up on top on Sunday?
(image via K League)

Last Time Out

FC Seoul 1-1 Incheon United

The Gyeongin Derby on Wednesday afternoon wasn't exactly a classic as both sides struggled to find their cutting edge. Incheon certainly controlled the first half and their pressure paid off late in the half when Moon Seon-min run from the halfway line to finish perfectly into the bottom corner. FC Seoul bounced back in the second half and levelled via a Go Yo-han volley. Seoul continued to press and looked the team most likely to go on and get a winner during the rest of the half. In the end it was a fair result, but neither set of fans went home happy.

Highlights: here

Daegu FC 2-2 Gyeongnam FC

This was a back and fourth game with both sides having their moments: key VAR moments and a couple of injury time penalties. Gyeongnam took the lead late in the first half via a Marcão penalty which was aided by a VAR decision. Edgar Silva levelled for Daegu early into the second half before a fantastic Marcão goal regained the lead for Gyeongnam. However, there was to be some late drama as Cesinha scored a penalty of his own deep into second half injury time to again level the game for Daegu.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Incheon United and Gyeongnam FC have played each other twice so far this season with Gyeongnam winning both games. The first at the Sungui Arena Park ended 3-2 with Park Ji-soo scoring an injury time winner. The other down in Changwon ended 3-0 to the hosts.

Gyeongnam last beat Incheon away earlier this season whilst Incheon last won at home against Gyeongnam back in 2014 thanks to a 2-0 victory with Jin Sung-wook, now at Jeju United, and Ivo scoring the goals.

Over the years Incheon and Gyeongnam have played each other 26 times with Gyeongnam edging the number of victories by eleven to four, the other eleven have ended in draws. 

Team News 

Incheon United will have Go Seul-ki suspended for Sundays game. Also a number of players are a booking away from a suspension including; Stefan Mugoša, Kang Ji-yong, Kim Dae-joong, Han Suk-jong, Elias Aguilar and Lim Eun-soo.

Gyeongnam, like Incheon aren't missing any players due to suspension, but also have a number of players a booking away from a one match ban.

The Adversary 

Currently sitting 2nd in K League 1 and playing some lovely football at the moment Gyeongnam FC travel north full of confidence despite being denied all three points against Daegu midweek with a last minute equaliser from Brazilian Cesinha from the spot. For large periods of the game Gyeongnam should have been out of sight, if for more clinical finishing from the Reds. For Gyeongnam this is a game that they should be on the front foot in for long periods. With all due respect to Incheon United, and the threats that they do pose, with the obvious one being their lively striker Moon Seon-min who caused the Reds all sorts of problems in the first encounter, if Gyeongnam they play to their strengths they should return south with all three points on Sunday.

The away side will have a full squad to choose from with no suspensions looming over any players so Kim Jung-boo the manager will have to select his side wisely. With Ulsan Hyundai getting to within just three points of Gyeongnam, the Reds will no doubt be looking over their shoulders hoping that they just do their job on Sunday and that Ulsan slip up along the way.

During this campaign this fixture has been won twice by Gyeongnam, a 3-2 away win and a 3-0 home win. If Gyeongnam play to their strengths and get Negueba and Kunimoto dictating things from midfield it could be a long afternoon for Incheon United. Of course up top they have the man mountain that is Marcão fresh from a double in midweek. He is now on 25 goals for the season and leads the way in the goal scoring charts by two goals over Gangwon leading marksman Uroš Đerić.

One potential concern is that the Gyeongnam defence can be susceptible to pace and players running off the shoulders of defenders. The defensive pairing of Park Ji-soo and Kim Hyun-hun, are very robust and like to get tight to forwards. If Incheon were to get some joy from the game, looking to get in behind those two could work with the pace Moon Seon-min clearly possesses. The Korean international clearly illustrated this pace by his wonderful individual effort against FC Seoul last Wednesday. This game should have goals if previous encounters have anything to go by and this Sunday I expect no different.

by James Edrupt

Who To Watch

There have been few highlight moments this season for Incheon United however a few players have at least kept safety from relegation in sight. Firstly up-front top scorer Stefan Mugoša has thirteen goals so far this season. However recently he has struggled a little with only two goals in his past nine games.

In midfield national team member Moon Seon-min scored at the weekend in the Gyeongin Derby bringing his season tally to twelve, making him the League's top Korean scorer. Although committed and hard-working, Moon can struggle a little with fitness.

Finally, at the back, 'keeper Jung San has improved in recent months and has been a key reason why Incheon have at least been drawing games recently over losing as was the case earlier in the season.

For Gyeongnam; the leagues top goalscorer Marcão has been the big difference for Gyeongnam for the past couple of seasons. This season alone the Brazilian has scored 25 goals in 26 games. Incheon are however one of the few sides that he hasn't ever scored against which is a slight positive.

Prediction

Gyeongnam come into the game with only one win in their past five games, but still sit second in the league three points clear of third placed Ulsan Hyundai. The Reds are however a little too far behind the leaders, Jeonbuk Hyundai, to pose a realistic challenge. So coming into the game on Sunday Gyeongnam will be focusing on finding form and moving closer toward their goal of ACL qualification.

Incheon at this point need to start winning games, last season they were able to rely on draws but that hasn't been the case this year. Jørn Andersen's men will need to press forward and bring the game to Gyeongnam, instead of focusing on counter attacking as they did on Wednesday. The lineup will be similar to Wednesday with a 4-1-4-1 formation with flying wing-backs again.

Overall it could be a close game with a number of goals from both sides. Late goals could also impact the game, which is common when Gyeongnam are involved.

Predicted Score: Incheon United 2 - 2 Gyeongnam FC

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