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Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Suwon FC

K League 2 Season Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Suwon FC

This weekend sees the start of the K League season and the chance for a new beginning for two of last season’s strugglers. The hosts, Bucheon FC 1995, will be hoping that they can push for promotion after a disappointing eighth finish last season. Meanwhile, seventh-placed Suwon FC will be continuing on their quest to show the world that there are two teams in Suwon worth talking about. George Slade previews the match.



Last Time Out

Both sides will be looking to start the season in a more positive fashion than they ended 2018. Bucheon lost 1-0 at home to Asan Mugunghwa, missing a chance to leapfrog Suwon in the process. Bucheon can be forgiven though, considering that Asan were the clear champions last season, and they held their own right up until the 92nd minute before conceding. Bucheon actually held the top spot themselves in 2018 for the first 7 games of last season, before a slow decline saw them falling down the table as the season progressed, reaching a low of 9th place in round 33 before rising slightly at the end of the season. They will hope that a similarly good start this season will not suffer the same fate and they can sustain the first place finish till the end of the season.

As for Suwon, they also lost 1-0, but this was away from home to last-placed Seoul E-land. Despite this being a disappointing way to finish the year, Suwon can take solace from the fact that overall their season improved towards the end in comparison to Bucheon. While Bucheon were slowly slipping out of contention for promotion, Suwon’s season went from strength-to-strength. An early slump that saw them languishing in the bottom two for the majority of the first-half of the season was overcome, ending the season just six points away from the promotion play-offs. If they can continue this progress, then Suwon FC will have every right to believe they can join their larger neighbours in the K League 1.

Previous Meetings

Bucheon and Suwon have been regular opponents in the K League 2 since Suwon joined the division in 2013, when it was known as the K League Challenge. The one exception was the 2016, as Suwon had earned promotion to the top division after finishing second the year before. While this stint of top flight football only lasted one season, it is something that Bucheon has never achieved. Bucheon, however, can claim the most success in knock-out competitions as they have reached the semi-finals of the Korean FA Cup as recently as 2016, the same season that Suwon were relegated from the K League.

While there is not much to separate the two teams historically in terms of competition success, last year Bucheon were the clear on-field winners between the sides. Bucheon won the first two of their games against Suwon, registering a 0-1 away win and a 4-1 home victory. Suwon won the third match-up of the season 2-0 at home, but Bucheon kept hold of the Gyeonggi Province bragging rights by winning their final home game 2-0. Considering only three points separated the two teams last season, these matches will probably prove decisive come November and Bucheon will definitely be hoping to sustain this form against Suwon.

Team News

With it being the new season, both teams are looking fresh as they look to hit the ground running, with no major injuries to report. Midfielder Kim Young-Nam has been named as the new Bucheon captain, not long after his military service loan spell at Asan Mugunghwa ended. Originally joining the side in 2015, Kim will be looking to lead Bucheon by example to improve on last season. Bucheon’s most notable signing of the winter transfer window was arguably the acquisition of Ecuadorian international Marlon De Jesus. The forward, capped five times by his country, has played across Latin America and has had brief stints for clubs in Israel and Portugal. At Ecuadorian clubs El Nacional and Emelec he averaged roughly a goal every three games and Bucheon will be hoping that he can bring this form and top-level experience to Korea.

Suwon have been even more active in the transfer market, especially in regards to signing foreigners. Henri Anier of Estonia, Sebastian Velasquez of Colombia, Chisom Egbuchalem of Nigeria and Jovlon Ibrokhimov of Uzbekistan will all be making their debuts this season. Of midfielders Velasquez and Ibrokhimov, Velasquez has MLS experience with New York City FC while Ibrokhimov has been capped nine times by his nation. Meanwhile, forwards Anier and Egbuchalem will be looking to forge a successful strike partnership that will bring Suwon the goals they were sorely lacking last season, finishing as the seasons lowest scorers with a meagre 29 goals across the 36 league games.

The Adversary

Suwon are a club looking to rebuild. They have identified that they have a fairly competent defence, with their 46 goals conceded not being far off of promotion play-off clubs Gwangju FC and Daejeon Citizen. As can be seen from their transfer activity the biggest problem by far was their lack of goals, with them even being outscored by bottom table club Seoul E-Land. Suwon clearly have a point to prove and if their new attacking quartet can work well together, Bucheon will have every reason to fear being embarrassed in front of their home supporters if they cannot contain the threat.

Who to Watch

As is typical with the opening game of the season, there will be many players looking to make their mark. The top player to watch this game, however, should be Suwon’s striker Henri Anier if he makes his expected debut. He has played over 50 times for Estonia and is their joint 9th highest goal scorer in their history, registering 13 goals for the ‘Blueshirts’. Having played football across Europe in countries such as Germany, Italy, Norway, Finland and Scotland, the former Motherwell player has a wealth of experience to call upon. Having won all top domestic honours in his homeland, Anier will be aiming to add Korean trophies to his collection.

Prediction

Although it is the first league match of the year it can easily become a defining moment for both teams. Each side will be looking to shake-off the disappointments of last season and create breathing space between them and their near neighbours, considering how close the two clubs finished together in 2018. Suwon have assembled an enviable attacking unit on paper, but whether they can work well together competitively every week has yet to have been truly tested. Bucheon could be under threat, but will of course have the support from their passionate fans. Overall, a high-scoring draw is probably the most likely outcome. Bucheon and Suwon will have to work a lot harder across the rest of the season to separate themselves from each other.

Predicted Score: Bucheon FC 1995 2-2 Suwon FC

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