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Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Gwangju FC

K League 2 Preview: Bucheon 1995 vs Gwangju FC

As the K League 2 begins to enter its third month of action, Wednesday night shall see a match between two teams battling for promotion. The hosts, Bucheon FC 1995, ended an overall disappointing April on a high with a win that saw them remain in 4th place. Unbeaten Gwangju FC, however, will be fighting to keep their place at the top of the table after losing precious points and their star player in a goalless draw last weekend.

Last Time Out

Coming into the weekend, Bucheon FC 1995 had not registered a victory since March. An April that consisted of two defeats and a draw was capped off with a win on Saturday, their first win since their second game of the season back on the 10th March. In a hard-fought game, Bucheon secured their first away win of the season with a 2-1 victory in Cheonan against Seoul E-Land. While Seoul had 56% of the possession Bucheon clearly dominated in terms of shots, recording ten efforts on target in comparison to the hosts two. Kim Ryun-do scored both goals for Bucheon in the 31st and 81st minutes, becoming the first forward to score for Bucheon this season in the process. His first goal was a well-taken first time shot from inside the penalty area that ended up in the bottom left-hand corner of the goal. The goal that secured the victory for Bucheon was even better, as Kim finished off a counterattack by drilling the ball hard and low to the keeper's far post. Bucheon may have come away with the points but Seoul scored the best goal, with Yoo Jung-wan curling the ball into the top-right corner from outside the area in the 88th minute. Though the late goal means that Bucheon have now conceded in their last six league matches in a row, they will no doubt be more than happy to have gotten themselves back to winning ways.

Gwangju can be proud in that they are the last remaining undefeated team in the top two divisions of Korean football, but they are starting to look less like the invincible side that they were at the start of the campaign. Two of their last three matches have been 0-0 draws in which they have failed to capitalise on their attacking style of play. This includes their away trip to Ansan Greeners last Saturday, which not only finished goalless but also saw their prolific Brazilian attacker Felipe de Sousa Silva sent off in injury time. This was a terrible end for a day that could have been a lot worse for Gwangju, considering Ansan played well and were only let down by their finishing. Gwangju may still be top of the table, but all teams in the top half will be smelling blood after this performance.

Previous Meetings

Gwangju have historically been the more successful of the two sides, and this success kept Bucheon and Gwangju apart for three seasons due to Gwangju's most recent stint in the top flight from 2015-17. Last year's matches were the first time they had played each other in almost four years, but while 5th placed Gwangju were more successful in the league than 8th place Bucheon, Gwangju actually performed worse in the fixtures between the two sides. In what coincided with their impressive start to the season last year, Bucheon won the opening two games against Gwangju, winning 2-1 away in March and 1-0 at home in May. As their season declined, so did their performances against Gwangju as they lost 1-0 at home in July and then drew 1-1 away in October. These results show that while Bucheon have the capability to defeat Gwangju, the Gyeonggi Province side might be doubting themselves as the most recent results against have not gone their way and Gwangju have only strengthened since then.

Team News

Bucheon have a full strength squad going into the game but this does not mean their line-up is set in stone. After spending several weeks experimenting with variations of the 4-5-1 formation, Bucheon fielded a 3-5-2 formation that proved to be an instant success. Two of the biggest shake-ups to the line-up involved two of Bucheon's foreign players. Brazilian Nilson Junior, who has been playing as a holding midfielder for the majority of the campaign, was placed at the centre of the defence while Ecuadorian Marlon de Jesus returned to the starting eleven to partner eventual goalscorer Kim Ryun-do. The new formation was a success as it kept their best asset, their midfield, well-strengthened while giving their attack an extra edge without compromising their defence too much. It is certainly within the realms of possibility that the Bucheon coach will experiment with the squad again on Wednesday, but as this was their first win since early March it is more likely that they well decide to stick with the 3-5-2 formation to see how it fares against stronger opposition.

The Adversary

By Gwangju FC correspondent Peter Hampshire

Gwangju failed to take full advantage of Busan IPark’s slip up last weekend as they were held to a stalemate by Ansan Greeners. Showing their strength in depth, manager Park Jin-seop continued to tinker out wide with the much-anticipated return of Lee Hee-gyeon, while Willian was preferred to Kim Jung-hwan. Seemingly settled into a defensive partnership with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors product Lee Han-do, Rustam Ashurmatov contributed to another clean sheet for the Yellows who have Yun Pyeong-guk back in as a settled number one.

The point gained in Ansan was the first time Gwangju have failed to win on the road this season, only conceding once in four away from home. Captain Yeo-reum and substitute Lee Hee-gyeon saw good efforts saved last time out, being forced to take the goal-scoring mantle upon themselves with Felipe having a rare off-day in front of goal. No doubt the Brazilian striker will be keen to ensure that his early goal glut was not just a sporadic flourish of form and get back on the score sheet in Bucheon.

Two trips to Seoul in the space of four days is hardly ideal for a club who also endured extra time in the FA Cup last week. We have seen that boss Park is not afraid to change his side even through a winning spell to keep legs fresh and more of the same should be expected here, especially considering the Yellow’s have a Jeolla derby at home to Jeonnam Dragons on Saturday. Three games in six days with such travelling is sure to be a good litmus test of Gwangju’s title potential this term.

Who To Watch

Gwangju are top of the table for a reason and their squad is filled with top players. Their defence has been rock-solid this season and has conceded a league low of five goals in eight games. Another strength of theirs has been their attack, which has scored thirteen goals this season in the league. The scorer of nine of those goals has been Felipe, who is suspended for this game due to the red card he picked up against Ansan. It remains to be seen as to who will fill in for him on Wednesday, as all of their other goals this season have been spread out throughout the team. The one to watch for this game will be Lee Hee-gyeon. The young forward has not yet scored in his debut season as a professional but he has regularly put on impressive displays and has played in the majority of this season's matches. He may not have the experience and maturity of many of his teammates, but his raw talent and fast development have marked him out as a player to watch. In Felipe's absence Lee Hee-gyeon could be the player that Bucheon need to be the most wary of, if he is able to handle the pressure of the spotlight.


Bucheon have been struggling for awhile but are back to winning ways. Gwangju have been dominant for the majority of the season but have not been playing to their full ability in recent weeks. Although a match of this importance deserves a victor, the state that the two sides of in currently indicates that a draw is more than likely.

Bucheon FC 1995 1-1 Gwangju FC

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