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FA Cup Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs FC Anyang

Korean FA Cup Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs FC Anyang

Reigning K League 1 champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors enter this year's FA Cup competition with a home tie against K League 2 outfit FC Anyang. While the resources between the two sides are vast, the home side have been knocked out of this competition for the last three seasons to second-division opposition and will be hoping Wednesday's visitor's will not be the ones to make it four.

Last Time Out

A slightly rotated squad from the side that claimed victory in Japan a few days prior flew to Jeju island to face Jeju United in their temporary home of the Civic Stadium. The match itself was somewhat of an underwhelming affair, ultimately decided by a Kim Shin-wook header in the 44th minute as the striker converted a corner swung in from Son Jun-ho. Jeju made attempts to come back into the fixture during the second-half and looked to have done so when Tiago converted, only for his effort to be disallowed by the referee for offside after consulting with the video assistant. The result was Jeonbuk's fifth match in a row unbeaten across all competitions and third consecutive clean sheet as the team continues to recover from their early wavering form that blighted them prior to the international break.

Highlights here

FC Anyang were dealt a humbling defeat in the K League 2 as their winless run in the division carried over into it's fifth match. The Violets were resoundingly beaten 4-1 by a Seoul E-Land team who, up to that point, sat at the bottom of the table without a victory. To make matters worse, Anyang took the lead initially thanks to Kim Sang-won who pounced on a chance from six yards after Manuel Palacios' effort was blocked by the defender. Seoul would equalise fifteen minutes later though through defender Seo Kyeong-ju who, after picking the ball up on the halfway line, took advantage of Anyang's attacking position and drove towards their goal, eventually converting from a narrow angle into the far top corner.

Countinho would give the Leopard's the lead in the 67th minute with a glancing header at the near post before Kim Min-kyun furthered Anyang's woes moments later. The rout was completed by Countinho once more as he narrowly beat the offside trap to shoot first time and beat the onrushing 'keeper. Overall, it was a concerning performance for FC Anyang, one that may not have much time to recover from as they travel to the top flight champions on Wednesday.

Previous Meetings

These two sides have only met once, coincidentally in the same round of this competition back in 2016. On that occasion, Jeonbuk travelled to Anyang and came out emphatic 4-1 winners. It would be the last time Jeonbuk would defeat K League 2 opposition in this tournament, with them later going out that year to Bucheon 1995 in the quarterfinals.

Team News

José Morais made some changes to his squad last weekend, resting key talent such as Lopes and Adriano after their midweek away trip in the AFC Champions League. Despite the manager targetting the treble, some rotation is also expected for this match with players such as the recovering Ibini and aforementioned Adriano likely to see significant minutes. Time also may well be handed to youngster Lee Keun-ho who has only made two cameos so far since arriving at the club in the winter from Pohang Steelers.

FC Anyang's recent form in the league could make manager Kim Hyung-yeol consider this match against high-level opposition as an unnecessary distraction, yet there is the chance that an unlikely victory could serve to bolster the team spirit and reignite their season. He has nearly a full side to select from though, with few injuries to concern himself with.

The Adversary

The match sees a repeat of the 2016 second round, with Anyang drawing an away trip to Jeonju on this occasion. With only two days of real rest time, and on the back of constant away travel, Anyang have the arduous task of trying to get past the mighty Jeonbuk with both sides having nearly opposite forms with five matches undefeated for Jeonbuk, and only one win in five for Anyang.

Formation wise, Anyang will look to play their 5-3-2 formation which they tend to use against stronger teams instead of their more common 3-5-2. The 5-3-2 has shown slightly better results as well because of the extra man at the back helping to solidify one of the biggest issues for Anyang this season; defensive fragility. Anyang are yet to keep a clean sheet and, with a devastating 4-1 loss at the hands of lowly Seoul E-Land on Sunday, it looks more likely we could see even more goals here.

Anyang will no doubt rest most of their stronger players such as Palacios and Alex. However, look for Kovtolyuk to remain in the line up to build up his sharpness. The midfield for Anyang could slightly change too meaning a younger, more heavy-pressing strategy, which could possibly disrupt Jeonbuk’s attacks. How long could Anyang hold on for is the real question. With Jeonbuk being the better team in all areas, it will probably lead to Anyang parking the bus, with long balls trying to steal a goal on the counter. The attacking full backs for Anyang will switch to focusing on defensive areas of the pitch, meaning possession stats for this game could be very low indeed.

Anyang are low on confidence and stylistically having to a match against such a strong opponent in Jeonbuk and their strengths of crossing and exploiting defences could cause problems. This is a case of terrible timing and a mismatch of skill. A repeat of the 2016 result is most likely, but if the Anyang B team can see this as a chance to prove their worth, it could be a gritty game.

- Paul Bettridge

Prediction

Given their recent performances against lower league opposition in this competition, Jeonbuk fans could be forgiven for feeling some degree of trepidation heading into this match. While the FA Cup is normally last on the club's priorities, this season it is part of an ambitious 'treble' push from the new manager and the strength in depth should mean the club will have enough to get by on Wednesday evening. As often can be the case, Jeonbuk's biggest weakness can be their complacency but, with so many talented faces pushing for a starting berth in other competitions, it is difficult to envisage that the team put out will not have the drive to get the job done. Factor in FC Anyang's declining form and it should theoretically prove to be a comfortable evening for the North Jeolla outfit.

FA Cup 4th Round Preview: here

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