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Preview: Jeju United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

K League 1 Preview: Jeju United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

It was never going to be easy starting out with six consecutive matches on the road, but Jeju United have managed only four points over that span in K League 1.  Their reward for their return home is a Saturday match-up with defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, a team who not only could they not beat last season, but failed to score in all four meetings.  Will a return to familiar surroundings of-sorts at the Jeju Civic Stadium change their fortunes, or will their visitors compound their misery?  KLU's Branko Belan previews the match with the help of Matthew Binns.

Match: Jeju United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Venue: Jeju Civic Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday April 13th, 2019; 14:00 KST

Last Time Out

Pohang Steelers 1-1 Jeju United

The first twenty minutes of the match did not produce much of consequence until Jeju would take the lead through Elias Aguilar, who was well positioned at the back post to convert Yun Il-lok's chipped pass which managed to evade Ryu Won-woo in the Pohang goal.  Both teams would have chances to score before the end of the half, but Lee Gwang-hyuk's effort from just outside the box a few minutes before the break was tipped over by Lee Chang-keun.  Yun could have made it two after taking a beautifully weighted pass from Aguilar in the first minute of injury time, but Ryu's leg would keep it out.

After the restart, Pohang took the initiative and would equalize on 55 minutes through Lee Seok-hyun, who ran into the path of awell-placedd pass from Kim Seung-dae, who had gotten free on the left.  After the teams drew level, neither 'keeper was seriously tested for the balance of the second half, although both sets of strikers had efforts that were just off target.  Wanderson would have the last chance for either side late in injury time, but his low shot went wide of the post.  Jeju had to settle for just a point in the end, as they continue to wait for their first full three pointers of the season.

Highlights: here

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-0 Incheon United

Moon Seon-min started and scored against his former club, while Kim Shin-wook added a second early after halftime to ensure that the defending league champions picked up their third win of the season, moving them to third in the table after the weekend's action on eleven points.

The hosts broke through on seventeen minutes when Lee Seung-gi's initial shot was blocked in front of goal, and the ball fell to Moon, whose scooped effort found the bottom right corner of the net.  Both teams had chances before the end of the half to add to the scoreline, but Lee Jong-bin was denied by Song Beom-keun, and then Moon Seon-min was denied a second in close thanks to a great stop from Lee Tae-hee, as Jeonbuk would take their slim lead to the break.

The North Jeolla side would double their advantage just minutes after the break, as Kim Shin-wook swept home Lee Seung-gi's ball into the six-yard box after the Incheon back four failed to clear their lines.  Jeonbuk would continue to control the match possession wise for much of the rest of the second half, but could not find another goal, while Incheon's best chance to pull one back came through Kim Bo-seob, who was sent streaking in down the left and had a one on one situation in front of goal against Song, but the Jeonbuk 'keeper was able to get a hand to the ball and keep it out.  In the end, it was a routine win for a reserve Jeonbuk side who will look to keep the momentum going when they come to the island on the weekend.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Jeonbuk have a massive edge in the head to head between the two sides.  In four meetings last season, Jeonbuk won three, while the teams drew in the Championship Round, and they didn't concede a single goal to the islanders.  With some new faces in the side, the hope is that Jeju will be more competitive against the defending league champions not only on Saturday afternoon, but also over the course of this season.

The teams have faced each other a total of thirty-five times, with Jeonbuk winning twenty-one matches to Jeju's six, while the rest (eight) have ended in draws.  The North Jeolla side have a distinct advantage in terms of goal difference, outscoring their opponents on Saturday by a clip of 62-33.  If last season is anything to go by, and if Jeonbuk get out of the gate quickly, it could be a long afternoon for a club still looking to win for the first time this season.

Team News

There were some considerable changes in the back for Jeju for their match against Pohang last weekend, as they went back to playing with four at the back thanks to the return of Park Jin-po, who had missed several matches due to injury.  The back four was completed by Aleks Jovanovic, Kwon Han-jin and Kang Yoon-sung.

The overall formation was a 4-2-3-1, with Lee Chang-min playing in a holding role on the right side of midfield, a questionable move at best considering the fact that he has been one of Jeju's brightest offensive players this season.  Elias Aguilar scored his first goal for Jeju on the afternoon, playing in behind Magno, who started in attack, being flanked on the left by Yun Il-lok and on the right by Kim Ho-nam.

It seemed to some positive effect, as Jeju looked better moving forward in comparison to previous matches, but Cho Sung-hwan still has not found the right formula to accommodate playing time for all of his players.  A pair of Jeju players, Kim Ho-nam and Kim Hyun received yellow cards late on in the match, but neither has accrued a suspension because of it.  All other players who have been active thus far this season should be available for selection.

Although there are no suspensions for Jeonbuk, a rash of injuries has hit the club in the first part of the season, with the latest to go down being Choi Bo-kyung, who left the pitch late in their match against Gyeongnam.  Lee Yong has also been absent from action because of a foot injury, while Adriano and Bernie Ibini only just saw their first action of the season against Incheon last week.

While their 3-2-1 record thus far suggests they may be "struggling" compared to last season, they still have scored more goals (twelve) than any other team in the league.  They also put six past Jeju last season, including a 4-0 drubbing in September, in which they scored three times in the second half.

Five different players went into the book for Jeonbuk last weekend, but with most of them playing in a rotation role, the expectation is that Jose Morais will return to a regular squad for the match against Jeju.

The Adversary


Jeonbuk head to the island after a hard-fought win on the road to 2017 AFC Champions League winners Urawa Red Diamonds midweek in a match that was initially foreseen as perhaps their toughest in the group.  The team was restored to full strength after a rotated lineup was fielded against Incheon United, with Han Kyo-won and Lopes returning to the flanks whilst captain Lee Dong-gook spearheaded the attack.

It would be substitute Adriano who would score the decisive goal however after some nice link-up play and a calmly placed shot from the edge of the area got the better of the J.League defence.  It was Adriano's second appearance of the season after ten minutes the weekend prior, and his thirty minutes here suggests that manager Jose Morais is easing the Brazilian back into the squad to offer competition to Lee Dong-gook and Kim Shin-wook. He may also make a cameo this weekend.

Tactically speaking, the Jeonbuk manager has now played the last four matches using his predecessor's preferred 4-1-4-1 formation and has picked up three wins and a draw in doing so. Jeonbuk tend to rely heavily on their wingers moving inside and full-backs overlapping, often with a talisman such as Kim Shin-wook at the top to bring the ball down for the midfield.  Kim has started all five domestic matches so far and will be expected to be in the first eleven come Saturday afternoon.

With games coming thick and fast, the option to rotate his team is there for Morais but it seems likelier that he will choose to play a strong eleven here and opt for sweeping changes next week in the FA Cup when Jeonbuk face second division side FC Anyang.

Prediction

Jeju have been longing to return home after what has been a bit of a long start to the season for them.  Things have started to point in a positive direction for them as their last two outings against Seongnam and Pohang have looked considerably better than their previous efforts, save for their opener against Incheon United at the beginning of the year where they should have sealed all three points.

But, their competition on Saturday owned them last season, and have been dominant against them over the course of the matches they have played against each other, although Jeju did fare a little bit better a few years ago in 2017, when they managed two wins in a season where they finished league runners-up.

It may be a stretch to expect Jeju to get points from this one, but they have something to prove to themselves after having fared so poorly against the league champions last season.  It is also their first match at home this season, and so the expectation is that they will do their utmost to put on a good showing for the fans.  If Jeju can limit their defensive mistakes and have a decent share of possession, they may be able to squeak out a point from this one, knowing that Jeonbuk could be a bit tired thanks to their away trip to Urawa Reds in the Champions League earlier in the week.

Prediction: Jeju United 1-1 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

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