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Preview: Sangju Sangmu vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

K League 1 Preview: Sangju Sangmu vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

After contrasting FA Cup fortunes midweek, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors look to bounce back from their disappointing defeat when they travel to face a Sangju Sangmu side who edged through their tie on a prolonged penalty shootout. With the home team in poor form in the K League recently, however, can they withstand a Jeonbuk side with a point to prove?

Last Time Out

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors exited the FA Cup midweek against K League 2 opposition for the fourth year running. The North Jeolla outfit fell to visitors FC Anyang after conceding in the final ten minutes, with the scoreline finishing 1-0. It was a heavily rotated squad that was initially sent out by the manager, with ten changes to the starting line-up that faced Jeju United on the weekend prior. However, the talent of the individuals that took to the pitch should have been more than enough to progress against an Anyang side who had also made seven changes from their previous match.

While the first half offered up little in the way of entertainment, the introduction of Lopes and Kim Shin-wook in the second half did allow for the home side to create some meaningful chances, with Adriano and Choi Chul-soon coming close to opening the scoring. However, it was against the run of play that saw FC Anyang take the lead. Collecting the ball in the penalty area, Anyang striker Manuel Palacios toyed with the Jeonbuk defence before firing it into the far side of the goal. The K League champions looked visibly rattled and failed to mount another meaningful attempt, almost allowing Anyang a second in the dying minutes when Cho Kyu-seong rattled a shot against the crossbar. This lacklustre end to the game may have also been due to the removal of Adriano through injury around the time of the goal. With no substitutes left, Jeonbuk were forced to play with ten men. A comeback proved impossible and Jeonbuk's pre-season ambitions of a treble lay in tatters in their first attempt in the FA Cup.

A rotated Sangju Sangmu side hosted fellow K League 1 outfit Seongnam FC in the midweek cup matches. There was very little to be said for the game itself, with both sides seeing out a goalless draw through extra time and onto penalties. In the end, the military side progressed after winning 10-9 in a lengthy shootout. Given that key first-team players such as Yoon Bit-garam were not utilised for the occassion, the additional minutes played midweek should not have an adverse effect of manager Kim Tae-wan's preferred eleven.

Previous Meetings

Jeonbuk have dominated this fixture somewhat, winning 24 times out of the 39 occasions played as well as picking up eleven draws. In Sangju, Jeonbuk have won nine times out of the 19 matches played, picking up their latest win there in July of last year. Sangju's last victory against Jeonbuk came in late 2017, winning 2-1 in Jeonju, yet prior to that their previous victory was way back in 2006.

Team News

Jeonbuk continue to be without right-back Lee Yong, who should now be close to recovery, in addition to Bernie Ibini who has been working on his fitness since his debut against Incheon United two rounds ago. Ibini may be deemed fit enough to feature here, but it seems far more likely Moon Seon-min or Han Kyo-won will be deployed instead. Jeonbuk are also likely to be without striker Adriano who picked up an injury to his right ankle against FC Anyang, in addition to centre-back Choi Bo-kyung who is recovering from the injury picked up against Gyeongnam FC.

As mentioned, Sangju Sangmu also rotated heavily for the midweek FA Cup fixture and may call upon a similar team to that which drew 1-1 against Gyeongnam FC last weekend. With no suspensions to concern themselves with, manager Kim Tae-wan has close to a full squad available to choose from.

The Adversary

Sangju Sangmu are holding onto fourth place after a positive start to the season yet four league games without a win and just one goal scored has seen their lofty position come under threat. Their current form is perhaps more akin to the pre-season predictions of relegation for the mid-table club though but the club will be hoping a penalty shootout win over Seongnam FC in the cup is the turning point in this minor wobble.

Despite manager Kim Tae-wan's tendency to play attacking football, the military side have found goals difficult to come by. Song Si-woo and Park Yong-ji lead the club's goalscoring charts with two apiece but neither have found the net since the third round. The manager tends to employ a 4-4-2 diamond formation and is likely to do the same for this match, with Yoon Bit-garam playing in the central attacking midfield role behind the aforementioned Song and Park.

Who To Watch

Jeonbuk has created plenty of chances this season, but only 36% of them have been on target. Given their wealth of attacking talent, this should be very concerning for manager José Morais. That said, Kim Shin-wook has been Jeonbuk's most reliable striker in a wasteful front line, scoring four league goals and subsequently leading the division's scoring charts. Not only that, his on-field influence was visible when he was brought on during the second-half against Anyang, holding the ball up well multiple times to bring others into play. With Adriano also likely injured for the next few matches, Kim Shin-wook has only Lee Dong-gook for competition in the forward role and he will be hoping to continue his encouraging start to the season.

Prediction

Jeonbuk will be expected to bounce back from FA Cup disappointment on Saturday afternoon and should deploy a stronger squad than that which played midweek. They also face Sangju Sangmu at an opportune time with the military's form a lot to be desired. However, after so much pre-season hype in regards to winning a treble, there may well be some disheartened souls in the Jeonbuk squad yet this disappointment is far more likely to manifest itself into a more driven performance.

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