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FA Cup Semi-Final Preview: Ulsan Hyundai vs. Suwon Bluewings

FA Cup Semi-Final preview: Ulsan Hyundai vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings

Reigning FA Cup Champions Ulsan Hyundai are one match away from a shot at defending their title, but standing in their way are a Suwon Bluewings team for whom the cup is the last ray of light in an increasingly disappointing campaign.  Dan Croydon previews what promises to be a dramatic night at Munsu Stadium.

Game:  Ulsan Hyundai v Suwon Bluewings
Venue:  Munsu Stadium, Ulsan
Kick off:  Wednesday, October 31st, 19:30 (KST)


Last Time Out

Ulsan Hyundai 1-0 Gyeongnam FC
The Horangi showed just how far they have come in the second half of this season with a hard-fought victory that saw them leapfrog Gyeongnam into second place in the league and one step closer to automatic ACL qualification.  It was a scrappy affair as Gyeongnam paid their hosts the complement of sitting deep for much of the game, leaving Golden Boot shoe-in Marcao as their lone attacking threat.  Ulsan huffed and puffed for seventy minutes before Lim Jong-eun scored with a beautifully placed header from a Han Seung-kyu corner.  Ulsan's backline, marshalled by the personification of grit Richard Windbichler, held on until the final whistle to take all three points from a game in which they would probably have crumbled a few short months ago.
Match Highlights

Previous Meetings

These two teams know each other almost too well, having met each other five times already this season (with yet another league match next month to top it all off).  Ulsan have already been knocked out of one cup by Suwon; a miserable 3-0 second-leg defeat meant they limped out in the ACL knockout stages 3-1 on aggregate.

In contrast, the Tigers have had the edge over their opponents in their three league fixtures, claiming one victory at home while the other two resulted in draws.  The most recent match was played a month ago at the Big Bird, where Suwon were able to fight back from two-nil down to grab a point thanks to a late brace from midfield talisman Elvis Saric.

Bluewings fans will certainly have mixed memories of their trips to Munsu.  They have not seen their side win there in six league matches dating back to 2014.  However, they will be hoping Seo Jung-won can emulate Suwon's FA Cup semi-final victory two seasons ago - they ran out 1-3 winners at Ulsan with two goals from Johnathan and another from Kwon Chang-hoon taking them to the final, where they went on to beat arch-rivals FC Seoul on penalties. 

Team News

Kim Do-hoon continued his policy of rotating his attacking options for the win over Gyeongnam.  Escudero, Hwang Il-soo and Kim Seung-jun started, but were all subbed off in the second half for Han Seung-kyu, Kim In-sung, and Lee Keun-ho.  We can expect Kim to pick any combination of these six players to form the trio behind Junior Negrao, while the remaining three with almost certainly feature at some point.  Elsewhere, Park Joo-ho may drop to the bench as the more pacy fullback option Lee Myung-jae is available again after serving a one-match suspension.  In goal Oh Seung-hoon should keep his spot after a great performance at the weekend when he showed excellent command of his area against the imposing threat of Marcao.

Oh Seung-hoon claims another cross during a stellar display last weekend


The Adversary

"Suwon Bluewings come into this match off the back of a defeat to rivals Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on Sunday afternoon. The game was a hotly-contested affair, with tempers bubbling over towards full time after some late challenges from the visitors. This fixture has often proved to be a feisty spectacle in recent seasons and Sunday only seemed to continue the narrative. Ultimately though, a heavily-rotated Bluewings side eventually fell 2-0 to the champions after holding them out for the initial 80 minutes, conceding two well-worked goals from Kim Shin-wook and Lopes."

"Recently returned manager Seo Jung-won chose to rest the majority of his key players at the weekend, however, opting to leave the likes of marquee names Dejan, Sarić and Shin Hwa-yong at home after a hard-fought, yet heartbreaking defeat in the AFC Champions League semi-final the Wednesday prior. With this cup being both the only chance of silverware and perhaps the club's best chance to qualify for continental football next season, it is highly likely the manager will recall his strongest assets to the starting eleven for this tie. With suspensions not carrying over from the league into this competition either, most of last Wednesday's team should be available for selection."


Prediction

Ulsan are the form team with an excellent run of ten wins from their last eleven home games, whereas Suwon have won just one in ten on the road.  So it would seem an easy prediction; if Ulsan play with the determination they showed at the weekend, they should reach a second successive final. However, as they showed in the last round against Jeju, and in the ACL against Jeonbuk, Seo Jung-won's Suwon have a way of getting the job done on the night, despite their frailties.  One thing is for sure - it won't be simple. It never is with these two.

Dan's Prediction: Ulsan Hyundai 2-1 Suwon Bluewings



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