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Preview: Suwon Bluewings vs Incheon United

Three losses from three games has seen the Suwon Bluewings make their worst ever start to a league campaign. Suwon have conceded eight goals in their opening games against Ulsan Hyundai, Jeonbuk Hyundai and Seongnam FC. Things won't get any easier as they welcome bitter rivals Incheon United to the Suwon World Cup Stadium in Round 4 of the 2019 K League 1. Incheon, themselves, have made an impressive start to the season but will make the short trip knowing that history is not on their side. 

Last Time Out

Suwon fell to their third consecutive defeat when they faced Seongnam two weekends ago, and thus confirmed the club's worst ever start to a season.

The Bluewings started the game well enough, pressing Seongnam in midfield and having the better of the early exchanges. That pressure paid off in the 28th minute when some neat foot work from Jeon Se-jin found the youngster clipped in the box and the referee awarded a penalty. Captain Yeom Ki-hun was given the responsibility of taking the penalty and the wide man cheekily chipped his effort down the centre of the goal to put Suwon one-nil up.

But the high backline that haunted them against Jeonbuk was in operation yet again and Seongnam exploited that space behind the defence well when an innocuous ball over the top was chased down by Kim Min-hyeok. The Seongnam man was bundled to the floor by Suwon's Min Sang-gi and Eder put away the resulting penalty to tie the game in the 37th minute.

Both teams struggled throughout the 2nd half and it was looking as though the game would just burn out into a non-event. However, Seongnam were left celebrating a morale boosting win when a thunderbolt from substitute Cho Sung-jun found it's way into the bottom left hand corner of the Suwon goal, in the 92nd minute, handing Seongnam their first win of the season.

Highlights can be found here. 

Meanwhile, whilst Suwon were suffering their 3rd defeat of the season, Incheon were inflicted their 1st of 2019 when they traveled to Sangju Sangmu two weeks ago.

In a tight first half, Incheon may have felt unlucky not to register a goal with a number of goalscoring opportunities being thwarted by Sangju goalkeeper, Yoon Bo-sang.

Incheon's profligacy came back to haunt them when a cross from the left wing found it's way to an unmarked Park Yong-ji, who slotted home to give Sangju the lead early in the second half.

Sangju doubled that lead and guaranteed that they would take all three points in the 82nd minute. A Yoon Bit-garam free-kick was expertly knocked back across goal and full-back Kim Min-woo was on hand to steer home the winner.

Highlights can be found here. 

Previous Meetings

Suwon have an imperious record against their rivals winning 25 of these fixtures, compared to Incheon's 5. Incheon last beat the Bluewings in 2013 and historically haven't traveled well to Suwon with their last win at Suwon World Cup Stadium coming back in 2009. Infact, Incheon have only ever claimed 2 wins and 3 draws from their 21 visits to Suwon, making it a very unhappy hunting ground for the Durumi.

Recent years have all seen Suwon dominate this fixture and the Bluewings have picked up 5 wins from the last 8 meetings between the teams.

Team News

After Suwon's loss to Seongnam, manager Lee Lim-saeng bemoaned injuries and unavailable players for the teams recent woes, and stated that the likes of Kim Jong-woo and Elvis Sarić both were not match fit. Doubled with the unexplained omissions of Lee Jung-sung and vice-captain, Choi Seung-geun, the Bluewings have resorted to playing full-backs, centre-backs and wingers in central midfield during recent weeks.

Elvis Sarić spent the week away with the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team but didn't see any game time and provided that the midfielder has regained his fitness, he could be in line for his first appearance of 2019. Park Hyung-jin, a left back by trade, has filled in in central midfield for the games against Ulsan and Seongnam but has had a torrid time and Lee will need the Bosnian back in the team sooner, rather than later, if he is to arrest Suwon's slide.

Another player who has had mixed fortunes at the start of the season is 'keeper, Kim Da-sol. The shot stopper has let in 8 goals during his first 3 matches, and received some criticism for his performance during the 4-0 rout suffered against Jeonbuk. The former Suwon FC player dropped into the Reserve team in midweek and it is expected that No Dong-geun will take his place in the first team for the visit of Incheon.

Starlet Jeon Se-jin may also be unavailable for Suwon as he has only just returned from Myanmar, where he was representing the Korean U-23 team during their qualification tournament for the AFC U-23 Championship. Jeon started 2 of Korea's 3 matches in the tournament, and featured off the bench in the other, and a fourth game in just 10 days should be too much for the 19 year old to handle.

The Adversary

We may be only three games into the 2019 season but things are already looking up for Incheon United. One win, one loss and one draw sees them sitting in mid-table ready to tackle the warmer spring months starting with a trip to Suwon Bluewings. The defeat to league leaders Sangju Sangmu, just before the international break, was a reality check that defensively things still aren’t working. However, it’s still early in the season and the issues are certainly fixable.

Norwegian manager Jørn Andersen won’t make many changes, despite the defeat two weeks ago, having named the same starting eleven three games on the bounce. No players are currently suspended plus no key players are currently sidelined with major injuries. However Montenegrin international Stefan Mugosa traveled to Europe and Kim Bo-seob to Cambodia (for the Korean U23 side) so they’ll be tired and possibly jet-lagged.

Stefan Mugosa was a key asset last season for Incheon United and that form has continued so far this season. He has scored twice for Incheon in three games and scored for Montenegro last week as well. Also, keep an eye out for future Iraq international Jiloan Hamad and Vietnamese superstar Nguyễn Công Phượng.

Suwon Bluewings 1-1 Incheon United.

- Tim Barnes

Who To Watch

With 8 goals conceded already this season it is clear to see where the deficiencies in this Bluewings team are. Suwon are lacking any sort of defensive cohesion, and from the forwards to the defenders, the team are failing in their defensive responsibilities. If Suwon are to stop this losing run then they will surely need to not only tighten their defence, but also trust the defenders that are out there on the pitch. So far, Lee Lim-saeng has failed to do that, and has named six separate players as starting CB's in the league in 2019.

The defensive performance against Seongnam wasn't as disastrous as previous games, so this should be the perfect opportunity for Lee to show some restraint and continue with Min Sang-gi and Koo Ja-ryoung, who started that game.

Min Sang-gi had an exceptional year for Asan Mugunghwa last year, claiming the K League 2 title and he settled back in to the Suwon line-up comfortably during his first outing of the season against Seongnam. Although he was responsible for giving away the penalty for Seongnam's first goal, Min rarely put a foot wrong throughout the game and marshaled the threat of Éder Luiz expertly. As too did Koo Ja-ryoung, also making his first appearance of the season, whose recovery speed spared Suwon's blushes a couple of times during the Seongnam game.

Prediction

The Bluewings' start to the season has been horrendous and judging from their performances over the last 3 weeks, it is difficult to see where they will pick up any points. However, Incheon's terrible form against their rivals cannot be overlooked and despite Suwon's position Incheon will still go into this game as underdogs.

Now should be the time for Lee Lim-saeng to try and create some calm and continuity around the team and a home victory against Incheon would instantly change the negative atmosphere that is clouding the club. But reservations should be held about that porous defence and if Incheon can breach it they will hope that they can pull off an upset and continue their fine start to the season.

Suwon Bluewings 1-2 Incheon United

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