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Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Jeonnam Dragons

Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Jeonnam Dragons K League 2 Round 5
K League 2 has entered April and Sunday's early afternoon kickoff sees a match between two teams that will meet competitively for the first time in their history. Bucheon FC 1995, riding surprisingly high in third place, will be aiming to continue their positive start to the year. Preseason promotion favourite's Jeonnam Dragons, meanwhile, are looking to earn points for only the second time this season.

Last Time Out

Busan IPark 3-3 Bucheon FC 1995

Last Wednesday, K League 2 sides entered this year's FA Cup for the first time this year, but the majority of the teams in the division exited the competition as quickly as they had entered. While some teams fell victim to lower league opposition, Bucheon and Jeonnam were each defeated by fellow K League 2 sides Seoul E-Land and Gwangju respectively. This left Bucheon suffering from consecutive defeats for the first time this season, having also lost their previous league game, and both sides needed positive results in the league last weekend to stop the negative form in its tracks.

Bucheon were relatively successful in doing so, drawing away from home to Busan IPark 3-3. The Reds started the match brightly with a goal in the first minute - An Tae-hyun scoring his second goal of the season with a powerful close-range finish from a tight angle. This good start, however, was undone in the second half due to Bucheon conceding three goals from penalties, all scored by Busan forward Romulo, giving him one of the easiest hat-tricks of his career.

The first was scored in the 55th minute, but Bucheon equalised quickly in the 59th minute from a long range strike by Song Hong-min that should have been dealt with by Busan goalkeeper Kim Hyung-keun. Busan then took the lead with the other two penalties in the 64th and 86th minutes, before Bucheon scored the final goal of the game with a fantastic injury time volley from the edge of the penalty area by Nilson Junior.

Bucheon may be unhappy that they were undone by three preventable goals, but they will no doubt be happy that they were able to break their run of two straight defeats and come away with their first away points of the season. If the team can focus on the positives, such as scoring three goals away against one of the divisions's strongest teams, they should be able to go to into this match with a winning mentality.

Highlights: here

Jeonnam Dragons 1-2 Gwangju FC

A winning mentality is something that Jeonnam have been missing this season. After losing to Gwangju at home in the cup, Jeonnam had an immediate chance at revenge as they hosted the league leaders last Saturday. It was not to be, however, and Gwangju continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 2-1 win. Choi Jae-hyun scored the home sides only goal with his second of the season in the 32nd minute.

This was sandwiched between strikes in the 21st and 63rd minutes by Gwangju's Felipe de Sousa Silva, who extended his lead at the top of the K League 2 scoring charts by taking his tally for the season up to seven goals in four games.

Jeonnam now sit in eighth place, with their only points of the season coming against Anyang in the 1-0 home win just before the international break. If newly relegated Jeonnam are to rejoin the K League 1 at the first time of asking, they are going to have to start consistently picking up points soon.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

A small piece of history will be made this weekend as this will be the first time that Jeonnam and the current incarnation of Bucheon have met in an official match. Jeonnam did used to regularly meet Bucheon SK when they were based in Gyeonggi Province, and the last result between those two teams was a 2-1 away for Bucheon SK back in September 2005. However, as Bucheon SK became Jeju United in 2006.

The present-day Bucheon have existed as a club since 2007 and the two teams have not met due to their largely differing fortunes. Since Bucheon's league debut in 2008 they have only played third and second tier level football, with their third place finish in 2016 being the highest position that they have achieved.

Jeonnam, meanwhile, are making their debut season in K League 2 after having played in the first division ever since the club's foundation in 1995. While their poor form last season may indicate that the Dragons were a team were always involved in relegation battles, this was not always the case. Jeonnam finished runners-up in the K League in 1997, the same year that the South Jeolla side won the Korean FA Cup for the first time. Two further cup victories in the years 2006 and 2007 show that this is a team with a winning history, with regular poor form only regularly beginning to show in recent years.

While so far it has been impossible for these teams to meet in the league, they could easily have met in the cup over the past decade. By complete coincidence though, the two teams have managed to completely avoid each other. This is despite both teams making some deep runs in the competition in recent years, such as in 2016 when both teams were knocked out by FC Seoul - Jeonnam in the quarter-finals and Bucheon in the semis. Now that the two sides will face each other four times in the league this season, both sides will be fighting to claim a victory and gain a psychological edge in the fixture.

Team News

Bucheon should have access to a 100% strength squad going into this match, but that does not mean the coach will be without any selection problems. In last week's match the midfielders of Bucheon were the outstanding performers, scoring all the goals and controlling large amounts of the game. While these players should be fine, there are questions to be asked about the club's attackers and defenders.

The Bucheon strikers still have yet to score a single goal this season, and as there are still some forwards in the squad that have not played so far this season, such as 20 year-old Chu Min-yeol, the coach may start to feel pressure to experiment more with his players up front. However, as long as goals come from other areas of the pitch and the forwards are still involved in the play, the coach may decide to not change them. 

In regards to the defenders, after last Sunday's performance, where Bucheon conceded three penalties, there are two possible routes to take. One is that they remain unchanged at the back but more focus in training is placed on discipline and ensuring that they do not make as many mistakes.

The other route is that changes are made at the back to give the club's many other defenders are chance to shine. This is always risky as a strong defence is built on teamwork, so the coach may decide that as they have only lost once in the league this season it is a case of better the devil you know. An unsure performance against under-performing Jeonnam though, could be the catalyst for large changes to the first-team being made.

The Adversary

Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Jeonnam Dragons Fabiano Soares

Though only five games into his first K League season, Jeonnam Dragons’ head coach Fabiano Soares is already under a bit of pressure. The ex Estoril and Athletico Paranaense boss has presided over just one win in those five home fixtures. With his side eliminated from the cup, and third-bottom in the table, it’s safe to say things haven’t exactly gone to plan thus far. If results don’t improve quickly, one wonders whether the Brazilian’s third stint in management will be as short lived as the previous two, where he lasted just four and five months respectively.

Soares favours a 4-3-3 formation, with fellow countryman Bruno spearheading the Dragons’ attack, and wingers Jung Jae-hee and Choi Jae-hyun tasked with getting the ball in early. At home, the Dragons tend to dominate possession, but their passing is often a little pedestrian.  Plus, they have been very susceptible to counterattacks this season; consequently, Soares could be tempted to use a second defensive midfielder alongside Croatian midfielder Vedran Jugović for his side’s first away game of the season against Bucheon. 

The Dragons have a few injury worries ahead of this game. Defenders Kwak Kwang-seon and Nick Ansell remain sidelined after picking up injuries in their Dragons’ debuts. Brazilian striker Bruno’s also a major doubt after pulling his hamstring against Gwangju last Sunday. With strikers Macedo and Hae Tae-goon still recovering from long-term injury problems, Jeonnam could be set for a few tactical tweaks.

Kim Kyung-min will most likely start up top and Korean under-23 midfielder Han Chan-hee, who’s largely been a spectator this season, must surely be in line for a recall in the middle. Han’s under-23 international compatriot, Lee You-hyeon, could also come in from the cold after starting for Korea against Australia last week. And last year’s club captain, Kim Young-wook, may be in contention for a start here, too, especially if Soares decides to go with a five-man midfield.

But regardless of the formation and lineup, both Soares and the Dragons badly need a positive result on Sunday. And funnily enough, even though they’re away from home, they may get one because they’ll probably be a lot less gung-ho on the road, and thus harder to break down.

-Aodan Halligan

Who To Watch

Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Jeonnam Dragons K League 2 Round 5 Choi Jae-hyun

In a largely underwhelming Jeonnam team this season, it can be hard to pick stand out performers. However, the one to watch for this match is Choi Jae-hyun. The Kwangwoon University graduate, who turns 25 this month and can play both in defence and midfield, is the only Jeonnam player to score two goals this season.

He has scored twice, with Brazilian forward Bruno Nunes being the only other player to score for Jeonnam this season. Both of Choi's goals have come in the last two league matches - the 1-0 victory against Anyang and the 1-2 defeat to Gwangju - meaning that he is in good form and could be the key if Jeonnam wish to get a respectable result from this match. Bucheon will need to keep him subdued they are to continue this season's 100% home league record.

Prediction

Jeonnam may have a good squad on paper, but they have struggled to adjust to life in the K League 2 and their ability away from home is unclear. Bucheon have shown that even after two disappointing defeats that they can mentally recover and gain points against tough opposition. Considering the form of the two clubs, their mental attitude and the location of the match on Sunday, it would be fair to expect a victory for Bucheon.

Bucheon FC 1995 2-0 Jeonnam Dragons

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