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Preview: Busan IPark vs Suwon FC

K League 2 Preview: Busan IPark vs Suwon FC

It's first versus third in the K League 2 this Saturday as the division's two most in-form teams face off at the Gudeok Stadium. Busan IPark begin this round of fixtures as league leaders after an ugly victory over Jeonnam Dragons on Monday, and they can scarcely afford to drop points with Gwangju trailing only on goal difference. The visitors to the south coast this weekend are Suwon FC, who come into the game off the back of four straight wins that have put them well in the mix for the title race.

Last Time Out

Busan IPark clawed their way to the summit of the K League 2 on Monday night with a hard-fought victory over a stubborn Jeonnam side. Busan got off to the best possible start when Lee Dong-joon scampered away down the right wing and cut a low cross back across the penalty area towards Lee Jeong-hyeop. The striker dummied and let the ball run through to Kim Jin-gyu, who stroked a beautiful shot past Park Joon-hyuk to give the home side the lead.

It was not all plain sailing for Busan, however. Jeonnam thought that they had equalised when Jung Jae-hee cut inside from the right and fired a fierce shot into the bottom corner of Kim Hyung-geun's goal, but the referee chalked off the goal after consulting VAR, deciding that an offside Dragon had impeded the goalkeeper's view. Busan survived another scare when defender Kim Myung-joon tripped Han Seung-wook in the box. Kim Young-wook's penalty cannoned off the underside of the bar, however, and Kim Hyung-geun did well to parry away the follow-ups. Busan had further chances to score, but Park Joon-hyuk denied Kim Jin-gyu and Kwon Yong-hyun, while Kim Min-joon and Kim Gun-woong wasted good chances for the Dragons as Busan held on for the narrow victory.

Busan IPark 1-0 Jeonnam Dragons highlights here.

Suwon FC, meanwhile, secured their fourth victory on the trot at home to Daejeon Citizen last Saturday. Suwon started brightly, and their midfield maestro Baek Sung-dong unleashed a ferocious drive in the fifth minute that keeper Park Jae-woo tipped onto the crossbar, only for Chisom Egbuchulam to blaze the rebound over with the goal at his mercy. Lee Jae-an also wasted a good chance before Suwon eventually took the lead on 28 minutes, when Daejeon keeper Park passed the ball straight to Suwon's North Korean striker An Byong-jun, who finished through the keeper's legs.

Daejeon might have equalised after the break but Park Soo-il's diving header from Park In-hyeok's cross bounced agonisingly wide. Suwon had to wait until the 82nd minute to make sure of the three points, and the second goal came from a combination of two of their most influential players. Captain Baek Sung-dong created the goal with a run down the right, and Chisom met his cross with a sweet volley for his sixth goal of the season.

Suwon FC 2-0 Daejeon Citizen highlights here.

Previous Meetings

Busan IPark and Suwon FC have met twelve times previously, and Suwon hold the slight edge in head-to-heads. Suwon have won five games to Busan's four, with three games ending in draws.

The last meeting between these teams came in March in the second round of fixtures this season. Suwon were the home team on that occasion and they took the lead on 21 minutes through captain Baek Sung-dong, his free kick from out wide evading everyone in the box and nestling in the corner. Busan fought back in the second half, however, and goals from Kwon Yong-hyun and Lee Dong-joon turned the game on its head. The match finished 2-1 to Busan.

Team News

Busan coach Jo Deok-jae has no suspensions or injury concerns to take into account this weekend, so he is likely to field a similar team to the one that defeated Jeonnam. Kim Jin-gyu was recalled to the starting line-up for that game and the Korea U22 midfielder should keep his place after scoring in consecutive matches.

Jo has predominantly employed a 4-3-3 formation this term with Han Ji-ho and Lee Dong-joon flanking Lee Jeong-hyeop up front, although Diego and Kwon Yong-hyun could be rotated into the line-up if Jo feels that fresh legs are needed. Hungarian striker Soma Novothny scored in the wins over Daejeon and Seoul E-Land earlier this month but was an unused substitute in the past two games. He is likely to start from the bench again unless Jo decides to revert to the 4-4-2 formation that he utilised in those victories.

The Adversary

Castle Park roared with excitement last Saturday. It was the first time Suwon FC recorded four wins in a row in the club’s history in the K League. It did not happen in 2016 when they accomplished the promotion dream but it was last Saturday that they achieved their record-breaking feat.

It is unknown whether the players were aware of the record but the performance in the previous game against Daejeon Citizen was satisfying for the fans. Suwon FC’s attacking players were as fiery as ever and North Korean import An Byong-jun amazed the fans with his untouchable pace. Wing forward Chisom Egbuchulam and striker An collected a goal apiece. Furthermore, team captain Baek Sung-dong displayed quality passing in key areas to allow more opportunities for the attackers.

The previous match also proved the presence of players who are able to replace injured first team players. The 4-3-3 formation remained, but Lee Jae-an replaced the Estonian forward Henri Anier, who had to sit out the past two games due to injury. Also, youngster Hwang Byung-kwon was selected to start instead of Sebastian Velasquez to provide rest time for the Colombian midfielder and also to fulfill the U-22 player regulation. This proved the depth of the pool of players in the Suwon FC squad. This means that Suwon FC can continue with the current system even with the absence of some of the current first eleven players, although it would be horrible to imagine a core member like Baek missing out through injury.

In the upcoming game against Busan this Saturday, it is expected that Suwon FC will adopt the classic counter-attacking style of play to prey on Busan’s high line of defence. Considering that Busan focus on attack as the core principle of their overall strategy, it would be clever to utilize some of the fast-paced players like Chisom or An to prey on the wide backyard of Busan’s half. Although it may be a stern task for the visiting team to defend well and score on counter-attack, as Suwon have not recorded many clean sheets this season, it would be still be a wise decision considering how the home team would be pressing for a winner in front of the home fans if the game carries on goalless past 70th minute.

The pressure may be on the home team as they have to bag three points in every game to stay competitive with the current league leaders, Gwangju FC. A composed style of play from the away team may see them flying back with three points from this game.

-Written by Lee Young-sub

Who To Watch

Lee Jeong-hyeop was called up by Korean national team coach Paulo Bento this week for the upcoming friendlies with Australia and Iran. Lee's inclusion at international level has always been a controversial one, with many arguing that the 27 year-old has never proven himself at the highest level. In no doubt, however, are Lee's competence in the K2 (24 goals in 53 apps) or his importance to this Busan team. Lee has seven goals from ten appearances this year, but that only tells part of the story. His work rate is outstanding, and his pressing from the front and interplay with midfielders are key aspects of Busan's play. Lee is a man in form and Suwon will have him earmarked from the off.

For Suwon, Chisom Egbuchulam has become a vital source of goals for this resurgent Suwon side. The 27 year-old Nigerian winger offers pace on the left of Suwon's attack, and he is a threat inside the penalty area despite his diminutive stature. Chisom has six goals in his last ten appearances, and his link-up play with the likes of Baek Sung-dong and An Byong-jun will ensure that the Busan defence will not enjoy a peaceful evening.


Both of these teams are bang in form and scoring goals, and neither have entirely convincing defences, so expect goals each way. Busan are likely to attack from the off, while Suwon have the pace and personnel to cause Busan problems on the counter. There will be chances for both teams, and it might just be a case of which team makes the most of them.

Busan IPark 3-2 Suwon FC

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