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Preview: Gwangju FC vs Daejeon Citizen

Preview: Gwangju FC vs Daejeon Citizen K League 2 Round 6
Early pace-setters Gwangju FC entertain Daejeon Citizen in K League 2 this Sunday attempting to extend their run of six games unbeaten. The only team not to taste defeat in the division this season, Park Jinseop's men will be hoping to pile misery on the out-of-sorts Purples.

Last Time Out

Gwangju FC 2-2 FC Anyang

Yoon Pyeonggook is likely to make his first start of the season after Lee Jinhyung sustained a head injury being clattered by Kim Jinhwan. In a calamitous few minutes that defender Kim would rather forget, the former Anyang man contrived to score past substitute keeper Yoon just three minutes after the injured Lee had left the field. After a spell of uncharacteristically poor defending, hosts Gwangju required winter signing Park Jeongsoo to nip in at the back post and glance home to level the scores on the stroke of half time.

Towering above his opponent, on-fire striker Felipe gave Gwangju an lead early in the second half with a trademark header to momentarily put the Yellows four points clear at the top. On a rain-sodden pitch Anyang keeper Choi Pilsoo spectacularly tipped Lim Minhyeok's deflected strike onto the post before comfortably catching another Felipe header. The leaders were left to rue those missed opportunities as Palacios was quickest to react in the box to equalise with just five minutes remaining.

Highlights: here

Busan IPark 2-1 Daejeon Citizen

Designated as 'Pink Day' in Busan, Daejeon left the Gudeok Stadium feeling rather blue after Diego Mauricio's stoppage time winner. Cutting in from the left all too easily through a stretched defence, the Brazilian scored his first goal for Busan IPark with a fine finish off the post. In equally squally conditions as in Gwangju last weekend, Aurelian Chițu scored his second in just over 200 minutes of action this term to give Ko Jongsoo's side the lead on the hour-mark.

Memories of last season's second division play-off final came flooding back for the Purples, with youngster Lee Dong-jun grabbing the equaliser before Mauricio's last-minute heartache. A first defeat on the road following two wins previously, Daejeon had been relying on their away form to push them up to sixth in the table following a turgid start to the season at home.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

This weekend's visitors Daejeon have enjoyed the better of contests between the two sides of late. Chițu enjoyed himself in the most recent fixture, during which a 1-0 victory for the Purples subsequently ended Gwangju's hopes of promotion. The game was remembered for Lee Seungmo's terrible neck injury with the defender yet to play since. 

A frenzied last five minutes saw Daejeon steal the points on their last visit to Jeollanam-do. Well into injury time and a goal up thanks to Felipe's strike, Gwangju were not banking on a quickfire double from Park Inhyeok and Chițu to stun the home crowd. A month earlier in August Ko Jongsoo's men again frustrated their opponents with Sanzhar Tursunov striking with minutes to go. 

In a strange quirk, the injury time smash and grab from September mirrored an earlier fixture last season between the two; Gwangju's last victory in this clash came in June. After Kim Seungseop had looked to have given Daejeon all three points with a late opener, defender Lee Hando and the now departed Na Sangho fired memorable stoppage time goals late in the second half. Whatever happens on Sunday, those in attendance should not head for the exit doors early.

The Adversary


Daejeon Citizen head into Sunday's 2018 Promotion semifinal rematch having lost their last two and without a win in three in the league - four in all competitions. After such a strong start to the campaign, Ko Jongsoo's men then slipped to sixth and four points adrift of the their opponents this Sunday after last weekend's disappointing collapse at the Gudeok. Whereas Gwangju's foreign star Felipe has hit the ground running, leading the league with an incredible eight goals, the Purples foreign imports have struggled to get out of second gear.

Whilst Aurelian Chițu has two goals to his name thus far, the Romanian has missed three games through injury. The 28 year-old gave Citizen a 61st minute lead away to Busan IPark last time out, only for the south coast side to turn the game in its head with two goals in the last 15 minutes. Daejeon's innate ability to ship goals late in games, something which plagued the 2014 K League Challenge Champions in 2017, seemed to be behind them.

However, so far this term, Daejeon have dropped four points as the result of goals conceded in the last 15 minutes. At home to Suwon FC in round four, Suwon struck in the 82nd and 90th minutes to seal an away win, whilst Diego's 93rd minute winner for Busan will no doubt have irked Purples gaffer Ko Jongsoo.

Tactically, Daejeon will be expected to revert to a 4-1-2-3 formation from a 4-4-2 with Chițu has the lone striker, flanked by Sanzhar Tursanov and Kim Seungseop. Shohruh Gadoev was absent from the matchday squad against Busan last Sunday and will perhaps feel a touch hard done by given how poor Daejeon have been in the final third in recent weeks. Distribution from the flanks has been an issue for the Purple this season with Tursanov averaging at just 16% in terms of crossing accuracy, for Kim Seungseop that figure is a little higher at 40% but still nowhere near the standard required. In fact, in the 57 minutes and 67 minutes which he featured against Jeonnam and Seoul E-Land, Kim managed just two crosses, neither of which were successful.

On-loan Suwon Bluewings attacking midfielder Yun Yongho dropped to the bench but could return in a bid to add some more creativity to the centre of the park.
-Paul Neat

Who To Watch

Lim Minhyeok is back in first eleven contention featuring against Anyang for the first time since November's play-off defeat. Returning to the side at a convenient time with both Om Wonsang and Lee Heegyeon absent, Park Jinseop clearly has no qualms about his ability, trusted him to get straight back involved with a good 90 minutes under his belt.


While Gwangju are clearly not feeling the effects of Na Sangho's departure too strongly, largely due to the performance of wingers such as Lee Heegyeon supporting Felipe from the flanks, they could do with someone in a central role with more attacking flair than Park Jeong-soo and Yeo-reum. As Na Sangho did towards the latter stages of last season, Lim Minhyeok appeared to hover behind Felipe against Anyang, lurking and trying to feed off the scraps of his knock downs. This is why I feel he could be integral to the outcome of Sunday's game.

Prediction

Yellows fans will have left the World Cup Stadium frustrated last Sunday having seen their side let a lead slip for the first time this season. While this is set to be another difficult task, Park Jinseop will know his side need to keep up the pace should he have genuine title ambitions.

The league's most talked about man of late is without doubt the 'unstoppable' Felipe, whose sumptuous link-up play has split open many a defence both this season and last. It will be interesting to see whether the Yellows are capable of mixing it up should he be absent, but this weekend it is quite likely that the Gwangju faithful will see another consistent performance from the league's best number nine.

Predicted Score: Gwangju FC 2-1 Daejeon Citizen

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