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Preview: Asan Mugunghwa vs Busan IPark

Preview: Asan Mugunghwa vs Busan IPark K League 2 Round 6
Asan Mugunghwa will look to rebound after suffering their second road loss of the season last week against Ansan Greeners while Busan IPark come into Saturday afternoon's match off of a 2-1 victory over Daejeon Citizen, the same side they beat in the promotion playoffs last year.  Both teams are very well rounded, so nuances will most likely decide the final outcome of one of the marquee matches in K League 2 thus far this season.  KLU's Branko Belan is joined by Tomas Marcantonio for the second versus third match preview.

Match: Asan Mugunghwa vs Busan IPark
Venue: Yi Sun-sin Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday April 13th, 2019; 13:00 KST

Last Time Out

Ansan Greeners 1-0 Asan Mugunghwa

Asan fell to their second defeat on the road last weekend as Ansan Greeners bettered them by a single goal.  The home side controlled much of the possession for the first half hour of the match, but were unable to pose a significant threat to the Asan goal.  The visitors were prone to turning the ball over in the middle of the park and were lucky not to get punished in the back.  The best chance for either side in the first forty-five minutes fell to Asan, when Ju Se-jong's low free kick in the 38th minute almost found its way through, but Lee Hee-sung managed to get a touch on it to keep it out.

Gustavo Vintecinco put Ansan ahead right after the break as he got onto the end of a cross from the left flank and flicked a header on goal, beating a charging Yang Hyung-mo.  The rest of the half did not produce much, although Lee was forced to make a difficult save midway through the second half to keep the Greeners in the lead.  Asan just didn't have their shooting boots on the day, but could have leveled the match from the spot in injury time as Lee Chang-hoon handled the ball in the area, but the referee denied it after consulting VAR, and Ansan held on for the win.

Highlights: here

Busan IPark 2-1 Daejeon Citizen

Busan left it late at home as Diego Mauricio scored in the third minute of injury time to give IPark all three points.  After a relatively even first half, which finished without goals, the match sprang to life in the second half, as Daejeon would take the lead through Aurelian Chițu just past the hour mark, and the hosts were on their heels.  Up to that point, Busan had enjoyed the bulk of possession after the break, but it was Daejeon who went in front thanks to a bad bit of goalkeeping. 

Busan would find an equalizer through Lee Dong-jun on 73 minutes when he smashed the ball into the roof of the net, and it turned the match in their favor.  They would continue to press for a winner, which finally came in the 93rd minute when Diego Mauricio found the back of the net with a low shot that struck the post on its way in, as the home side were able to turn the result and now sit only one point behind Asan in the standings heading into Saturday afternoon.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

The head to head between these two sides last year was evenly split, with each team winning once and two matches ending in a draw.  Busan took the first meeting of the season in March, winning by a single goal, thanks to a Kim Jin-kyu strike in the 37th minute.  The following pair of matches could not find a winner, but Asan would take the final meeting of the season by a score of 2-1, courtesy of goals from Kim Hyun and Ahn Hyun-beom, after Arsenio Valpoort had put Busan in front after only two minutes.

Busan have held the edge through the years, as they have won six matches to Asan's two (including the period when they competed in K League 2 as Ansan Police FC) while eight matches have ended in draws.  Asan's overall goal difference in that span is minus ten, so the hope is that last year's results will hold up, and, being at home, they should be more than capable of making it a competitive affair.

Team News

Dating back to last season, Asan's home form has been excellent, but they have already conceded three times in two matches - twice to Bucheon and once to Seoul E-Land.  Despite being only two points from the summit in K League 2, they have only managed a plus one in terms of goal difference, and that has to be a bit worrying when facing a team like Busan IPark, as a single goal the wrong way could be enough to determine the outcome of the match.  

The lack of ball possession in key areas leading to chances against Ansan last week is also something that the team has to think about.  Busan was very close to earning outright promotion to K League 1 at the end of last season, and are starting to turn a corner in terms of results, so Asan have to hope for a much better effort against stronger competition this weekend.  They should have a full squad at their disposal, as there are no suspensions or serious injuries to limit selection for the starting eleven.

Busan, meanwhile, have already won away from home this season, but the fact that they allowed three goals recently to Bucheon at home means that they will also be hoping to tighten up at the back.  There are no concerns with regards to team selection, so the expectation is that they will field their strongest eleven.

The Adversary

 Lee Dong-jun (R) has been one of the most productive players for IPark this season.
Busan IPark showed great spirit and some exciting attacking play in the win over Daejeon, but the trip to Asan will be a much sterner test of their title credentials. Busan have looked dangerous going forward so far this year, but defensively they have been poor. They have already shipped 10 goals, the worst record in the league, and coach Jo Deok-jae will be desperate to cut out the individual mistakes at the back that have characterised the early stages of their campaign. In the past two matches goalkeepers Kim Hyung-geun and Koo Sang-min have both looked shaky and conceded goals from straightforward shots, so Asan could look to pepper the goal early on and test the mettle of whoever gets the nod to start between the sticks.

Busan have lined up in a 4-3-3 formation in every game so far, and Jo is likely to stick with that on Saturday. Park Jong-woo will sit in front of the defence and try to dictate the play from deep, while Rômulo will be given the task of finding a way to unlock the Asan defence. So far Busan have relied heavily on the pace and trickery of their wing forwards, namely Lee Dong-joon, Kwon Yong-hyun, Han Ji-ho, and Diego, while the centre forward (Soma Novothny in the last two matches) acts as a pivot to hold up play and link up with the speedy players on either side. If Asan can keep Busan's wingers quiet, the away team will struggle to create chances from open play.

Prediction

There is no question that this is going to be a tight and tense affair, as all of the matches between the two were last season.  Both teams will also have a lot of pride on the line as results have not been consistent thus far in the new campaign.  There is little to separate them on paper, as both clubs boast strength in the middle of the pitch with Ju Se-jong and Lee Myung-joo featuring for the home side, and Romulo and Park Jong-woo countering for the visitors.

It is this midfield struggle which will most likely play the biggest factor in the end result, but if last season's results are an indicator, it's likely that both will have to settle for a share of the spoils come Saturday afternoon.

Prediction: Asan Mugunghwa 1-1 Busan IPark


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