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Preview: Busan IPark vs Seoul E-Land

After stunning Seongnam last weekend, bottom club Seoul E-Land will be looking to upset another of the K League 2 big guns when they visit Busan IPark at the Gudeok Stadium this Sunday afternoon. With only five games of the season left to play, Busan are still fighting for their promotion place, and they might just fancy their chances against a side they beat 5-0 when they last met.

Overview

From Soccerway

Last Time Out

Busan IPark followed up their win over FC Anyang with a comfortable victory away to Suwon FC last weekend. The away side got off to the perfect start when Ku Hyeon-joon curled a perfect ball into the box from the left touchline for Kim Dong-sub. The former Korean international striker diverted the ball goalwards and Suwon keeper Kim Da-sol failed to keep it out despite being well-positioned. It was Kim's first goal for Busan, but his joy was short-lived as he was stretchered off after twenty minutes and replaced by Kim Hyun-sung.

Busan doubled their lead through the excellent Kim Jin-gyu just before the break. The Suwon goalkeeper will again feel that he could have done better, as he was only able to parry Romulo's shot straight back into Kim's path for an easy tap-in. Suwon rarely looked like getting back into the game in the second half, and Busan essentially wrapped things up on the hour mark when Kim Jin-gyu teed up Romulo for a cool side-footed finish.

FC Anyang 0-3 Busan IPark highlights.

Seoul E-Land, meanwhile, pulled off the upset of the weekend with a shock win over promotion favourites FC Seongnam. Jung Sung-min gave the Magpies the lead on 66 minutes from the penalty spot, and from there E-Land looked destined to lose their fourth game on the bounce. E-Land had other ideas, however, and late goals from Ignacio Herrera and Cho Chan-ho turned the game on its head.

The result meant that E-Land closed the gap on Ansan Greeners in ninth to just one point, and they may now fancy their chances of climbing off the bottom of the table before season's end.

FC Seongnam 1-2 Seoul E-Land highlights.

Previous Meetings

Busan IPark will have good memories of the last time they faced off against Seoul E-Land. They ran riot on their visit to Jamsil in August, scoring five times without reply. Goals from Romulo (2), Choi Seung-in (2) and Lee Dong-joon secured the victory, and a red card for E-Land's Jeon Min-Kwang midway through the second half hardly helped matters for the home team.

That was the third time the teams have met this season. The previous meetings finished 2-0 to Busan, and 2-2.

Team News


Busan IPark switched to a three-back last weekend, despite continuing to be without all of their first team centre-backs. Kwon Jin-young, Ku Hyeon-joon and Lee Chung-woong filled in admirably at Suwon, and they could line up the same way on Sunday with none of the more experienced options expected to return for some weeks. Alternatively, coach Choi Yoon-gyeom may revert to a 4-3-3 system with Ko Kyung-min coming back into the attacking midfield role.

Up front, Kim Dong-sub will be unavailable after going off injured last weekend, so Kim Hyun-sung is likely to get the nod to replace him as the focal point of the attack.

The Adversary

by Seoul E-Land columnist Michael Redmond.

Last weekend was an astounding one for Seoul E-Land in the K League 2. The team even I was disregarding in the build-up to the game went out and pulled off a victory against another promotion-chasing team. This came as a surprise after Busan's 5-0 demolition of E-Land in August, after which many fans lost faith in the team. Low and behold, however, E-Land did what is becoming the fibre of their identity by beating a team in the top half of the table.

The question now is: where do they go from here? E-Land have just beaten a team that many would consider the favourites for promotion after Asan Mugunghwa declared that they would recruit no more players from 2019 (thus making them ineligible for promotion to the K1). Busan will be no easy task. However, revenge has to be on the mind of most of the Seoul squad leading up to the game on Sunday. After the 5-0 thrashing from the IPark men in Jamsil, E-Land have to be convinced they can do better, and what better place to do it than on Busan's turf?

Seoul will go into the game with heightened confidence after the Seongnam win, but the Leopards have only won two games in a row once this year. If Seoul can go into the game with a defensive line-up as they did against Seongnam, and pick apart their opponents' mistakes once again, then we will be in for an interesting encounter.

Seoul went a goal down against Seongnam due to a clumsy penalty mistake, but they sat back and waited for Seongnam to implode. With Busan so high in the table themselves, it wouldn't be a bad tactic to play defensive and watch Busan panic if the score remains goalless going into the latter stages. Only Sunday will tell if Seoul E-Land can claim the scalp of another big team, or if it will be business as usual for the top half of the K League 2.

Who To Watch

Busan's Kim Jin-gyu celebrates his goal against FC Anyang in September.
For Busan, Kim Jin-gyu is enjoying his best ever season for the club. Last weekend he was a constant menace against Suwon, and he recorded a goal and an assist to boot. The goal was his sixth in the league this season and, at 21 years old, there's still a lot more to come from the midfielder. A bit-part player in his first three seasons with the club, Kim is now one of the first names on the team sheet, impressing both as a wing-forward and in central midfield. After scoring in two games on the trot, Seoul E-Land will have him firmly on their radars as one to watch.


Seoul E-Land's Joo Min-kyu playing for Sangju Sangmu last year.
After appearing off the bench three times since returning to E-Land from his military loan spell with Sangju Sangmu, Joo Min-kyu will be chomping at the bit to get back in the starting line-up. The big forward last found the back of the net against K1 champions Jeonbuk Hyundai at the end of August, and although injuries have restricted his game time this year, he remains one of Korea's most natural goalscorers. With 37 goals in 72 games for E-Land, his record for the club is highly impressive, and he'll hope to add to that tally before the end of the season.

Prediction

Seoul E-Land snatched an unexpected victory last weekend but Busan IPark looked to be back on form against Suwon. Busan had a five goal picnic the last time these sides met and E-Land have continued to ship goals since then, so I think the home team will edge it.

Busan IPark 2-1 Seoul E-Land



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