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Preview: Jeju United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

K League 1 Preview: Jeju United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Jeju United go into their final home match of the season in K League 1 on Saturday afternoon having their four-match win streak snapped last week against Gyeongnam, virtually erasing any chance they would have had to finish higher than their current position in the table.  Their opposition, league champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, have had their way with the Islanders this season, winning all three head to head matches, while not conceding a goal in the process.  All indicators are pointing to much of the same as the North Jeolla side ran out convincing winners against Ulsan last week.  KLU's Branko Belan and Matthew Binns preview the matchup.

Match: Jeju United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday, November 10th, 2018; 16:00 KST

Last Time Out

Jeju United 0-1 Gyeongnam FC

Jeju had a great opportunity to advance their position in the championship round last Saturday at home to Gyeongnam, who they had beaten less than a month ago, but things didn't quite go according to plan.  For starters, they were without Magno Cruz, who was suspended for the match having picked up his third yellow card the week previous against Pohang, and it made a world of difference up front, as the Islanders struggled badly to create chances in the final third.

Gyeongnam would edge in front in the 19th minute when Negueba crossed into the box, and the ball was touched past Lee Chang-keun to put the visitors up one.  Originally, the goal was credited to Marcao, but upon a closer look at the replay, it went down as an own goal to Lee Kwang-seon, who had scored the winner the week before.  

Jeju moved forward after conceding, but their finishing in the area left much to be desired.  The home side was awarded a penalty for a handball with under five minutes left in the half, but Tiago, who had been largely ineffective in the first forty-five minutes, could only manage a weak effort from the spot that was easily saved by Son Jung-hyun.

The second half did not present much in the way of chances for either side.  Jeju could not get on target and did not threaten their opponents' goal with any consequence after the restart.  Gyeongnam did make several forays into the attacking third through Bae Ki-jong, who came on as a substitute in the second half but lacked the finishing touch to add to their advantage.  A moment of concern for the visitors came in the 67th minute, as Marcão was taken off due to injury.  Jeju squandered a great opportunity at home, as Gyeongnam left the island with all three points.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Jeju have struggled badly against Jeonbuk this season, losing all three matches played against the champions, with the last time out being the worst of them all, as Jeonbuk won by a convincing 4-0 margin.

In their first meeting this season, Jeonbuk triumphed by a single goal, with Ricardo Lopes getting on the score sheet in the 27th minute, only to be sent off eight minutes later.  However, parity in terms of numbers on the pitch was restored, when Jeju themselves had a man sent off, with Lee Chan-dong reducing his side to ten men.

Lee Jae-sung would be the difference in the teams' second meeting in July, when he netted from close range in the 75th minute to bring Jeonbuk all three points at a time in the season when they had already started running away with the league.

Four different players would find the net when the sides met in September, in what was perhaps the most unconvincing performance of the season by Jeju, who were in the midst of a fifteen match winless streak.  Without a goal to their credit against Jeonbuk this season, they will be hard-pressed to improve on that statistic when the two meet for the final time this season.

Team News

Jeju will welcome Magno back from suspension after he missed last week's match due to an accumulation of yellow cards.  Jung Da-hwon picked up a yellow card against Gyeongnam but will be available for selection, although he may be left on the substitutes' bench if he gets the call into the squad for Saturday.  There are no players under suspension or missing through injury this week.

As reported previously, Jeju are in the market for a new manager, as Cho Sung-hwan will step down after the season.  The search is ongoing, but an official announcement with regards to a replacement will not be made likely until the end of the season.

The Adversary

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors come into this match on a victory tour that is looking quite impressive given that they have nothing to really play for and would be excused if they chose to coast. This is already the team's best ever season, but the club currently needs one more point to put their points per game average for the year higher than rivals FC Seoul's impressive 2.18 back in 2012 (when the league consisted of 44 rounds per season). It would be a strong sendoff for the club's manager Choi Kang-hee who will leave the club at the end of the season after 14 years.

The North Jeolla side have been playing their strongest iterations as well in order to keep this momentum going. A solid first-half performance saw them sail into a 3-0 need against a then second-placed Ulsan side looking to shore up automatic qualification to next year's AFC Champions League. While the Horangi did pull one goal back to soften the scoreline through a delicate Junior Negao chip, the visitors never looked much of a threat, only further highlighting this year's gulf between first place and the chasing pack

Another positive for Jeonbuk is the return of left-back Kim Jin-su. Having been injured back in March, the ex-Hoffenheim man made an emotional return to the pitch in Jeonbuk's 2-0 win over Suwon before starting last weekend against Ulsan. Kim would go on to score Jeonbuk's third, choosing to celebrate by running over to his manager and coaching staff before bowing profusely in thanks for their hard work in his rehabilitation. It has been a difficult year for Kim which saw him miss his second World Cup through injury, and also unable to assist his side in the AFC Champions League. 

Jeonbuk could be without centre-back Hong Jeong-ho who came off in some discomfort last weekend, having to be replaced by Shin Hyung-min. They do however have no suspensions to be concerned with and will likely opt for yet another strong eleven as they aim to finish the season in winning form.

Prediction

Jeju will be reeling after the loss to Gyeongnam, and with changes coming to the club in the near future, there could be questions regarding the team's motivation going into the final three matches.  Although they are only three points out of fourth, their lack of success against Jeonbuk this season does not bode well for them, and the champions don't seem content to take their foot off the gas pedal just yet.

The belief is that Jeonbuk's grip on the tie will show through once again, and, despite not having much to play for at this point, keeping a perfect record against the island side could very well be something to strive for.

Barring a major miracle, Jeonbuk will come away victorious again; they simply have too much firepower for Jeju to contend with.

Prediction: Jeju United 0-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 

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