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Preview: Suwon Bluewings vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

In what will be one of the standout matches of Round 2 of the 2019 K League 1, defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors make the trip north to face bitter rivals Suwon Bluewings. Jeonbuk will almost certainly be looking to gain revenge from that classic ACL quarter-final last year, but can the Bluewings stop the boys in green from continuing their impressive run of form against them. 

Last Time Out

Suwon lost their 5th consecutive opening day fixture when they crashed to a 2-1 defeat against Ulsan Hyundai last Friday. In a dominant first half performance Ulsan took the lead when Kim Bo-kyung was too quick for Suwon debutant Goo Dae-yong, the defender scything down the former Jeonbuk man to give away a penalty. Júnior Negrão duly dispatched the penalty to give Ulsan a 1-0 lead.

Ulsan doubled that lead in the 55th minute of the game when some more slack defending from Goo Dae-yong, allowed winger Kim In-sung to sneak in at the back post and bury a cross from that man, Júnior Negrão.

However, Suwon managed to fight their way back into the game when a long pass from Yeom Ki-hun was nodded down by Dejan Damjanović into the path of one of Suwon's many debutants, Adam Taggart. The Australian made no mistake with a fine half volley into the top corner to bring the score to 2-1. The Bluewings pushed for an equaliser but couldn't create any further clear cut opportunities and Ulsan were able to seal the win.

Full match highlights can be found here. 

Meanwhile, Jeonbuk suffered a shock result at the hands of last year's FA Cup winners Daegu FC, with the minnows claiming a point from the game. Daegu took an unlikely lead in the 23rd minute when a beautiful Cesinha delivery was expertly headed in to the top corner by fellow Brazilian Edgar Silva.

That lead only lasted six minutes though, when Lim Sun-young energetically broke through the centre of midfield and let fly from a full 30 yards out. His left foot strike had enough pace and power to score, but goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo may have felt that he could have done better.

The second half saw Daegu attempt to contain an incessant Jeonbuk attack but it was Daegu who had the best chance to steal a winner when Cesinha's effort from a free-kick was kept out by Song Bum-keun.

Full match highlights can be found here. 

Previous Meetings

Suwon and Jeonbuk have played out some interesting encounters in the past, and two of those came last season when the two went head to head in an epic ACL quarter final. After an incredible victory in the first leg, Suwon did their best to throw away a 3-0 advantage in the second leg and only a stoppage time penalty save from Shin Hwa-yong saved Suwon from losing 4-3 on aggregate. The tie went to a penalty shootout where, again, Shin Hwa-yong was the savior for Suwon, saving two penalties and guiding the Bluewings to the semi-finals.

Jeonbuk have certainly had control of this fixture over the last few years winning eight of the last 13 games between the two. However, the fixture itself never lacks entertainment with 34 goals being scored in those 13 games, and only three draws in that time.

Team News

Lee Lim-saeng fielded a strange and extremely weakened defence for that season opener, opting to play two full-backs in the cente of defence, and handing a debut to Goo Dae-yong who only played a handful of games for Asan in the K League 2 last year. Despite having the experience of Jo Sung-jin on the bench the manager appeared to opt for pace at the back, a decision that backfired as the Suwon defence looked lost at sea for most of the 90 minutes.

New signing Ko Myeong-seok wasn't even on the bench for the Bluewings that day and there has been no official word from the club regarding any injury to the talented centre-back.

Lee Lim-saeng also made the mystifying decision to deploy both Yeom Ki-hun and Jeon Se-jin in the centre of midfield, in that Ulsan game, despite having Elvis Sarić available from the bench. It was an odd decision at the time, but worked out well as the team looked more balanced when they switched to a 4-4-2 with some attacking intent in the centre of the park. However, if the manager is to continue with that formation then he may be better served playing the Bosnian international after his successful spell with the club last season.

The Adversary

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors come into this game off the back of a 3-1 win over Beijing Guoan midweek in the AFC Champions League. The team fielded was mostly unchanged from the Daegu FC match the weekend previous, and the result ensured new manager Jose Morais' claimed his first victory of his tenure. While the side did seem initially blighted with the same bout of rustiness that had plagued them for much of their league opener, a strong second half showing, with instrumental performances from Ricardo Lopes and Lee Dong-gook, looks to have quashed any short-term doubts of a transitional wobble.

Morais has the option of sticking with a similar team for this weekend's trip to Suwon yet he may feel under some pressure to utilise some of the numerous new signings brought in. So far, only defender Kim Min-hyeok, winger Moon Seon-min and attacking midfielder Han Seung-kyu have seen minutes from the players acquired in the window and, with another Champions League game next week away in Thailand, there could be a cause for some rotation. Having made the pitch against Daegu in the league opener, it is likely Moon and Han may find time here, along with central midfielder Choi Young-jun who has only featured on the bench up until now.

In terms of injuries, Lee Yong and Bernie Ibini are both out injured for this match as they both recover from minor foot injuries. Lee is set to be sidelined for a month whilst Ibini is reportedly two weeks off a return. Tiago's return to the squad for the Beijing match, and the short amount of game time he received towards the end, would perhaps suggest he will also be under consideration for minutes here.

I would expect Jose Morais to keep the same back line as his previous two matches but do not be surprised to see some tweaks to the midfield as he looks to keep his wealth of options satisfied. Kim Shin-wook could also be set to lead the attack after handing the role over to Lee Dong-gook in midweek.

- Matthew Binns

Who To Watch

As the only Australian forward in the K League there are certainly a few eyes watching Suwon's Adam Taggart, and the Aussie didn't fail to impress during his brief debut last Friday. The striker came on as replacement for Song Jin-gyu at half time and although Suwon fell further behind shortly after his arrival, Taggart had an immediate impact on the game.

The 25 year old complimented veteran Dejan well and with a second presence to occupy the Ulsan defence Suwon looked much more threatening. His positivity and energy could be the key to Suwon's problems and the manager now has a huge dilemma on his hands. Should he stick with his trusted 4-3-3 formation or should he alter and try to get both of Suwon's strikers on the pitch at the same time?


This one will all depend on what sort of back line Suwon decide to field because a team with the attacking riches of Jeonbuk will almost certainly blow a defence composed entirely of full-backs to pieces.

However, the attacking performance that Suwon put in in that second half against Ulsan should give them some spirit going into this. When the Bluewings actually throw caution to the wind they can compete with the best in this league and that is the attitude that Lee Lim-saeng should carry into this game.

Jeonbuk are the defending champions for a reason, but you just never quite know what will happen in this fixture.

Predicted Score: Suwon Bluewings 2-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

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