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Preview: Incheon United vs Seongnam FC

Managerless Incheon United host in-form Seongnam FC in an interesting game on Saturday evening in the K League 1. Incheon will be looking for just their second win of the season, whilst Seongnam will be trying to add to their recent successes against Pohang and Ulsan.

Last Time Out

FC Seoul 0 - 0 Incheon United

This was a derby in name only as both sides seemed happy to settle of a point. Incheon played deep and defensively from the outset and only tried attacking on the break. FC Seoul looked more composed with Osmar leading the midfield, but lacked an answer to Incheon's defensive setup. The first half provided limited chances and talking points.

The second half was more of the same as Incheon continued to play calmly and defensively, but had basically no options going forward. Young forward Kim Bo-seob had Incheon's best chance of the game, but he fired straight at the keeper when maybe he could have passed. FC Seoul created a few half chances during the second period, but overall seemed happy to settle for a point.

Highlights: here

Ulsan Hyundai 0 - 1 Seongnam FC

Seongnam pulled off a bit of a shock last weekend beating, at the time, league leaders Ulsan Hyundai. Seongnam started the game well and had good pace going forward, and their efforts would be rewarded when Gong Min-hyun opened the scoring thirty-one minutes into the first half.

The second half was controlled mostly by Ulsan looking to get back into the game, but a combination of strong Seongnam defending and maybe tired legs meant that Ulsan were unable to create many meaningful opportunities. Seongnam held on for an impressive win that moved them up into the top half of the K League table.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Incheon United and Seongnam FC didn't play each other last season as Seongnam were still in the second tier. However, the last time they played each other back in 2016 the game ended 0-0.

Incheon last beat Seongnam at home all the way back in 2011, winning 2-1 at the old Incheon Munhak Stadium. Park Joon-tae scored the late winner that day. Seongnam last beat Incheon away back in 2016, Hwang Ui-jo and Tiago Alves scoring in a 3-2 win.

Over the years Incheon and Ulsan have played each other 39 times with the victories dominated by Seongnam. They've won sixteen times to Incheon's seven. The other sixteen games have ended in draws. Incheon haven't beaten Seongnam in their last twelve attempts, and have never recorded a win against them at the Sungui Arena.

Team News

Caretaker Incheon Manager Lim Joong-yong might still be without Captain Nam Jun-jae who has been struggling with injuries recently. However, star forward Stefan Mugosa could be fit enough to return on Saturday. No Incheon players are suspended for this game, however Lim Eun-soo is a booking away from a ban.

Adversary

That backs to the wall victory away to Ulsan last week was possibly the shock result of the 2019 K League 1 season and may be the springboard needed for Seongnam to push themselves away from the bottom of the table for good. The Magpies currently sit in 5th place, a full 7 points above last placed Incheon, and they will see this game as the perfect opportunity to put further daylight between themselves and those dreaded relegation places.

Much of Seongnam's season has followed the path of that Ulsan match and the Magpies rely heavily on their pacy counter attack, long passes and a sturdy defence. Seongnam have completed the 4th most deep passes in the league this term and have also completed more interceptions than any other team in the league. With their deep back line the onus will be on Incheon to attack in this game but they should be wary of that quick Seongnam counter.

Who To Watch

For Incheon United, if Stefan Mugoša makes a welcome return this weekend he could make a big difference. Despite missing the past few games he is still the clubs top scorer and Incheon desperately need goals. Vietnamese star Nguyễn Công Phượng hasn't set the world alight so far for Incheon, but he could make an impact from the bench this weekend.

Moving into the midfield, which for Incheon this season has been an area that's lacked consistency. Park Se-jik and Jiloan Hamad have been the better players for Incheon this season in the middle of the field, but that's not to say they've been playing well. Youngster Lee Joon-suk played well on Sunday so he could be one to look out for.

Finally, at the back Gordan Bunoza was much improved during the derby game against FC Seoul and seemed to benefit from playing in a slightly deeper line. He could be key for Incheon trying to plug their defensive gaps.

Prediction

Incheon and Seongnam FC have had contrasting starts to their respective K League seasons. Incheon haven't won since the second week of the season and haven't scored a goal in their past five games in both the league and cup. Seongnam, on the other hand, started slowly but are finding their feet, and now are into the top half and looking comfortable back in the top flight.

Incheon are still looking for a new manager, but hopefully that issue doesn't affect the players on the pitch. A few new faces could play on Saturday, and changes are certainly needed in the attacking third. For Seongnam, it's more of the same please, as they look to build on a solid start to their season.

Overall, although at the moment I can't see Incheon picking up a win this weekend, a draw seems like the logical outcome.

Predicted Score: Incheon United 1 - 1 Seongnam FC

K League 1 Round 9 Preview: here

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