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Preview: Busan IPark vs Seoul E-Land

K League 2 Preview: Busan IPark vs Seoul E-Land

Busan IPark host Seoul E-Land at the Gudeok Stadium this Wednesday night, with both teams looking to bounce back from a narrow loss on Saturday. With the hosts just two points off K League 2 leaders Gwangju FC, could they take advantage and climb to the summit of the second tier, or will the visitors claw themselves up from the league’s bottom rung?

Last Time Out

Busan IPark travelled to South Jeolla province on Saturday to play a league game against Jeonnam Dragons for the first time since 2015. Jeonnam coach Fabiano Soares sprang a surprise before the game, setting his side out in a 5-2-3, as they successfully prevented a usually swashbuckling Busan IPark side from creating clear openings within the opposition’s final third. In a sketchy first half of few chances, the away team crafted the best opportunities as Lee Jeong-hyeop’s first time shot from Han Ji-ho’s through ball then Romulo’s cute long-range effort were well saved by Park Jun-hyuk.

After the break the home side improved drastically, as Jeonnam's attacking wide play allowed space for Kim Geong-woong and Han Chan-hee to shine in midfield. Striker Bruno Nunes thought he had put the home side in front, but his shot between the legs of Busan keeper Kim Hyung-geun was ruled out for offside. Jeonnam were mainly restricted to chances from set pieces, with Lee Ji-nam’s header going agonizingly wide from a free kick, before Kim Geon-woong rose highest to plant a clean header into the top left corner from a couple of yards out.

Jeonnam parked the bus as they clung on desperately to claim just a second win of 2019. However, they were fortunate not to surrender the win with the last kick of the game. Diego’s meandering run and pass put substitute Kwon Young-hyun through on goal, who elected to pass having drawn the onrushing goalkeeper out of position. The ball fell to the capable boots of Lee Jeong-hyeop, who had a wide open net to aim at yet inexplicably shot over from 15 yards, stunning the away fans and summing up a frustrating performance for the away side.

Match highlights available here.

Seoul E-Land welcomed Bucheon 1995 to their temporary home of Cheonan on the weekend, in front of a significantly improved attendance of 3,215. The hosts looked flat on the ball throughout and were second best for the duration of the game, as Bucheon’s defensive press prevented the home team from maintaining possession or creating clear cut opportunities. The away team broke the deadlock early through Kim Ryun-do, whose weak first time shot caught out the wrong-footed Kim Young-kwang in the E-Land goal.

Bucheon pushed forward at will as they searched for a second goal, with Colombian new signing Marlon de Jesús impressing at the focal point of a Bucheon attack that created chance after chance yet were unable to double their lead. De Jesús’s powerful headers twice forced good saves from Seoul keeper Kim, but it was a wonderful counter-attacking goal from Kim Ryun-do which finally unlocked the E-Land defence, as his shot at pace fizzed across the face of the goal from the right wing, leaving the keeper with no chance and the game beyond the opposition.

Seoul claimed a consolation goal as substitute Yoo Jung-wan struck powerfully into the top corner from 25 yards after being allowed acres of space by the Bucheon back line, but they were well beaten in Cheonan and the 2-1 scoreline flattered the home side.

Match highlights available here.

Previous Meetings

Busan IPark were dominant against Seoul E-Land in 2017, taking 10 points from their 4 K League Challenge meetings. The two teams drew 2-2 in Seoul last March before registering 2-0, 3-1 and 5-0 victories over the capital side later in the season.

The overall Head to Head record is completely even. Seoul E-Land and Busan IPark both have three victories with 2 draws between the sides since E-Land were formed in 2017.

Team News



Busan have injury doubts over club captain Han Ji-ho, who was withdrawn at half time against Jeonnam after a quietly effective first half performance. He may be replaced by Brazilian Diego, who offers a clinical finish and a physical presence up front, or by Kwon Yong-hyun, who has shown flashes of brilliance particularly in his link up play so far this season.

Huge questions persist over the goalkeeping position, as Kim Hyung-geum was arguably at fault for the Jeonnam goal, flapping at the ball with all the authority of a glitching goalkeeper on a FIFA video game, despite the goal being scored within his own six yard box. Last season's first choice Koo Sang-min didn't even make the bench against Jeonnam, after he was himself dropped after an error in Busan's league win against Daejeon. 21 year old rookie Kim Jeong-ho was preferred in the 18 man squad, however would be unlikely to start given he has yet to make a league appearance. Coach Cho Duk-jae may choose to start any of the three goalkeepers given the dearth of stability in this position.

The Adversary

Seoul E-Land will travel down to Busan looking for their second win of the season. Sat bottom of the K League 2 table, Seoul haven’t looked dangerous going forward so far this season with a lack of effort frustrating their most committed supporters. Seoul will look now to bounce back from their poor performance against Bucheon, and attempt to get anything out of Busan on Wednesday night. With a weak defence and strike force looking slightly sluggish, this writer expects E-Land to make the trip back to the capital without any points.

Expect the Leopards to rely on Brazilians Alex and Coutinho up front, with the former scoring twice at the Gudeok Stadium last season as an Anyang FC player and both having found the net three times so far this campaign. Youngster Yoo Jung-wan may feature from the start after an impressive cameo off the bench against Bucheon.

- Michael Redmond

Who To Watch



Since being recalled to the starting lineup agaisnt Asan Mugunhwa, Lee Jeong-hyeop has repaid the faith shown in him by coach Cho Duk-jae with three goals in as many games, going some way to restore confidence in a player whose loan move to J League 1 side Shonan Bellmare ended with a disasterous return of just two goals in all of 2018.

Even though he left his shooting boots at home for the trip to Jeonnam, Lee was incredibly effective  playing as a number 9, with his movement getting beyond the defensive lines causing problems for the Dragons throughout, whilst also providing a useful outlet in the centre of the pitch as Busan attempt to build their attacks through their wide players. This presence was fatally missed for Busan last season, and Lee will be eager to prove his misfiring performance in Jeolla-namdo was a one off against a Seoul E-Land side that hasn't kept a clean sheet in their last five league matches.


Lee Hyeon-seong came forward and looked the most promising player on the pitch in an otherwise drab game for Seoul E-Land against Bucheon. The Korean midfielder did well getting himself into space and promising positions to build attacks, and was not afraid to take the game to his opponents last weekend. If he can be given enough service and continues to play without fear against an experienced IPark defence, then Seoul could find themselves getting into some promising positions on Wednesday. 

Prediction

Seoul E-Land have had an inconsistent start to the season and, though they have made promising progress within the FA Cup, a 4-1 home win against Anyang remains their only victory in the league with only two points picked up on the road. However, their last-minute equaliser against Jeonnam last Monday provides their supporters with the hope that they can take at least a point from the game if they can keep things tight at the back.

After a disappointing performance against Jeonnam Dragons, coach Cho Duk-jae will be looking for a reaction from his IPark side as they look to regain momentum in their 2019 title challenge. With Gwangju dropping points against Ansan Greeners, a potential four-point gap has suddenly become two and Busan IPark remain in touching distance of the top of the division. This motivation, along with the visible disappointment amongst the players in the aftermath of their defeat against Jeonnam, is likely to provide Busan with the impetus to come out of the blocks quickly. Expect a positive attacking performance from Busan at the Gudeok.

Predicted Score: Busan IPark 3-1 Seoul E-Land

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