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Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Busan IPark

K League 2 Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Busan IPark
One of round twelve's two Monday evening matches features two teams that have little in common other than the fact that they both drew at home last Sunday. 7th placed Bucheon FC 1995 remain in the hunt for a play-off spot after registering their first goalless draw of the season. Down on the south coast, meanwhile, Busan IPark missed a golden opportunity to go top of the league and will be hungry to not make similar mistakes again this time around.

Last Time Out

It's never the best of signs when a goalkeeper is man of the match, but that is exactly the title that Bucheon FC 1995 keeper Lee Yang-chang was awarded after Sunday's 0-0 draw at home to Asan Mugunghwa. In fact, Lee made the official K League 2 team of the week due to his impressive saves that kept his team only one point behind Asan in the league. This is all the more remarkable considering it is his first appearance of the season, after having been back-up to Choi Cheol-won for the opening ten league games of the campaign. Bucheon actually matched Asan with three shots on target each, but they were largely outplayed in the majority of the areas of the pitch as Bucheon only registered 41% of the possession. This can partly be attributed to first-team regular Nilson Junior being dismissed in the 40th minute of the match after receiving two yellow cards. The Brazilian midfielder will be sorely missed, and Bucheon will have been happy to take the point as they will no doubt be harder to come by for as long as he is suspended.

There was a period of about twenty minutes on Saturday when Busan IPark were leading and if they would have hung on, two notable things would have happened. Gwangju would have lost for the first time this season (though they subsequently lost to Suwon Bluewings in the FA Cup on Wednesday) and Busan would have leapfrogged their opponents and been top of the league for the first time this season. Busan's positive attacking play was rewarded when winger Lee Dong-jun scored in the 69th minute, his final major contribution of the game before being substituted several minutes later. Busan thought they were on their way to an incredibly important three points until Felipe scored a stoppage-time equaliser for Gwangju, becoming the first K League 2 player to reach ten goals this season in the process. Busan will undoubtedly feel hard done by with the result, but they have faced bigger setbacks this season and will be looking to bounce back in the game against Bucheon.

Previous Meetings

Despite the two club's largely differing fortunes this season and last season, Bucheon have the better record between the two clubs. In their last five matches, there have been two Bucheon victories and three draws. One of these was the 3-3 draw earlier this season, an eventful game that featured a hat-trick from Busan's Romulo and an injury-time equaliser from Nilson Junior. These results are impressive, considering that last season Busan finished seventeen points and five places ahead of Bucheon in the league, and look like they could easily do the same this season. Busan have to look back to April last year for their last victory against Bucheon, a 2-1 home win in the FA Cup. Busan may be the in-form team, but this recent history may give Bucheon a psychological edge and they will be hoping that they can continue to be Busan's bogey team.

Team News

Bucheon continued with their 3-5-2 formation that has garnered them several points in recent games. The coach seems to have settled on Kim Ryun-do and Marlon de Jesus as the favoured strike partnership, but the goalless draw on Sunday may lead him to experiment again. Goalkeeper Lee Yang-chang could feature again after his impressive display against Asan, but his overall lack of experience this season may see him benched in favour of Choi Cheol-won.

While most positions in the starting lineup are fixed, a big issue is the suspension of Nilson Junior. The holding midfielder is an integral part of Bucheon's defence and their build-up play, and has started in every league game this season. The likely replacement in the starting eleven will be Song Hong-min, who has been used in rotation with other midfielders and has made seven appearances this season, scoring two goals. In both games that the defensive midfielder has scored in Bucheon have drawn, one of which was the 3-3 draw against Busan earlier this season. If he can rise to this opportunity, then this can prove to be the breakout season for the 23 year-old. If he and Bucheon can perform well without Nilson Junior though, has yet to be seen this season.

The Adversary

Busan IPark come into this game very much in the mix for automatic promotion after a competitive performance against Gwangju. The team looked visibly gutted at the full-time whistle after first conceding then hitting the post in stoppage time, but should take many positives out of the game. The performances of Kim Myeong-jun and in particular talismanic midfielder Park Jong-woo disrupted the league leaders’ rhythm throughout, shutting supply lines to continuously frustrate the league’s top scorer Felipe. Busan go into the game against Bucheon FC having scored 10 goals in their past 3 away games, and it is expected Busan will attack from the start. Expect wingers Han Ji-ho and Lee Dong-jun to utilise their pace to get into attacking positions from out wide as Romulo is relied upon to unlock the defence from an advanced central position.

One issue for Busan to resolve is their ill-discipline, as they picked up four yellow cards against the South Jeolla side in a bad-tempered first half. IPark poster boy Kim Moon-hwan picked up his third yellow of the season and a one-game suspension for his unnecessary participation in a touchline melee shortly before the interval. With his natural deputy Lee Sang-jun absent after travelling with the Korean U20 National Team to the World Cup in Poland, it is likely veteran right back Lee Jong-min will make his first appearance since featuring in Busan’s 1-0 FA Cup loss to Cheonan City.

Fortunately for IPark, the return of towering Australian Alexsandar Susnjar will provide steel at the back to compensate for this loss. Inexperienced CB Hwang Jun-ho is likely to drop to the bench despite impressing against Gwangju, but may see game time from the bench as coach Cho Duk-jae has preferred to consolidate narrow leads by introducing the 20-year-old as part of a back three in a changed 5-4-1 formation.

Who To Watch

Busan IPark - Lee Dong-jun

Lee Dong-jun is fast becoming the breakout star of IPark’s season, capping another electrifying performance against Gwangju with a goal to become the league’s fourth-highest scorer with 5 goals from 11 appearances. The 20-year-old Busan youth academy graduate is matching a fearlessness in front of goal with positional awareness that belies his tender age, and is deservedly keeping the likes of Kim Jin-gyu, Diego and Kwon Yong-Hyun out of a very talented Busan side. Look out for the winger to be involved deep in build-up play before stretching defenders with runs into the box from wide positions.

Prediction

Bucheon have been unimpressive but steady as of late, while Busan have been continuing to press Gwangju in the race for the title. However, Bucheon are at home and have proven themselves to be tricky opponents for Busan to overcome. With both teams missing key players, expect this to be a close game with plenty of goals, but neither team coming out on top.

Bucheon FC 1995 2-2 Busan IPark



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