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Preview: Jeju United vs Suwon Bluewings

The tenure of newly appointed manager Choi Yun-kyum began with a victory, as Jeju United secured their first three pointer of the season with a 2-0 success over Gyeongnam FC last weekend. Suwon Bluewings had to settle for a point against bitter rivals FC Seoul in the latest installment of the Super Match, which ended 1-1. The islanders will be looking to build on a positive result, but Suwon will also want to get back in the win column. KLU's Branko Belan and Scott Whitelock have the preview.

Match: Jeju United vs Suwon Bluewings
Venue: Jeju Civic Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday May 12th, 2019; 14:00 KST

Last Time Out

Jeju United 2-0 Gyeongnam FC
A pair of second half goals from Magno Cruz and Tiago were enough for the home side to earn their first three points from a match this season. Jeju dominated the first half and had several chances to go in front, but could not hit the target. Elias Aguilar in particular was a standout, distributing the ball well up the pitch and even had a few chances on goal himself, but it would go to the break just as it started.

Things would change in the second half as Jeju continued to push forward in search of the lead. They finally made the breakthrough on 65 minutes when Kang Yun-sung found space to cross in from the left and Magno headed home from close range to put the hosts in the lead. Second half substitute Lee Chang-min could have doubled the advantage on 75 minutes, but his rocket from distance firmly struck the bar and bounded out.  

Jeju would be rewarded late on, however, as Tiago, who got in with just under ten minutes remaining, added a second in injury time, banging a low shot into a half open net after some good forward play from Aguilar and a simple layoff from Yun Il-lok. Jeju came away with a meaningful win, their first of the season.

Highlights: here

Suwon Bluewings 1-1 FC Seoul
Suwon were left snake-bitten at home in the Super Match, as Park Chu-young converted a penalty in the ninth minute of injury time to steal a point after Dejan Damjanovic had put them ahead just three minutes before the hour mark.  

The pace in the first half was rabid, as both clubs looked to draw first blood. The visitors could have gone one up just after a quarter of an hour if not for a fine save from No Dong-geon, who went down low to his right to keep the ball out. Dejan and Adam Taggart would go close for the home side just before the break, but both were just off the mark.

Both teams would come out for the second half with as much tempo as the first, and the Bluewings 'keeper would once again have to come to the rescue to keep his side from conceding early on.  Things would change soon thereafter, as Elvis Saric dribbled into the area, and, the ball having taken a slight deflection fell to Dejan, whose low strike struck the post on its way into the net, evading the outstretched arms of Yu Sang-hun and sending the Big Bird faithful into a frenzy.

Suwon would retain the lead until the 72nd minute when Seoul scored an equalizer from Yun Ju-tae, but after a further look at the replay he was clearly in an offside position and the goal was called off.  

Suwon should have been two in front with under five minutes left of regular time after some good play down the left from Dejan and Saric, but Yeom Ki-hun put his effort just inches over the bar. The visitors would draw level very late on as Seoul were awarded a penalty when the referee whistled No for a foul after Go Yo-han went down in the box. Park Chu-young converted from the spot to level the match with virtually the last kick of the ball and the spoils had to be shared after yet another controversial, but entertaining chapter of arguably the greatest rivalry in Korean football.

Highlights: here 

Previous Meetings

The two clubs met five times overall last season, four of which were in the league. Dejan Damjanovic proved to be the difference in their first match last March with a fifteenth minute winner. Jeju would return the favor when they met again in the first round of matches after the World Cup break, with Kwon Han-jin heading in from close range for a 3-2 win with just ticks remaining on the clock.

That win proved to be significant for all the wrong reasons, however, as it took Jeju until October before they would win again. The third match in September ended in a scoreless draw, while the final clash between the two in the Championship Round went to Jeju by a score of 2-0 thanks to a pair of goals three minutes apart from Tiago and Aleksandar Jovanovic.

Suwon still has an edge in the overall head to head, winning sixteen matches to Jeju's thirteen, with six matches ending in a draw. Goals have been almost evenly shared between the two, with Suwon finding the net 48 times to Jeju's 45. Judging by results last season, it could either turn out to be a wide open affair, or tightly contested, but the first quarter of an hour may give a good indication as to how the match will play out.

Team News

Jeju will be buoyed by finally getting the proverbial monkey off their back by becoming the last team across both divisions to get a win this season. The performance against Gyeongnam was by far their best so far and the most complete ninety minutes the squad has put together. With both Brazilians getting on the score sheet and Yun Il-lok once again playing the role of provider, there is hope that better things are yet to come and that Jeju will mold into a competitive outfit this season.

Choi's first match in charge saw a change in tactics to a 4-2-3-1, with some notable changes. Kim Ho-nam lined up as a fullback on the right in the back four, while Yun Il-lok and Elias Aguilar joined Lee Eun-beom as midfielders up the pitch supported by Lee Dong-su and Lee Dong-hee in holding roles.  Magno was the lone man in attack.

It remains to be seen if Choi will stick to the same formula, but he most likely still has a bit of work to do to settle his lineup for a longer stretch of time. It is quite possible that there will be changes in the starting eleven for this weekend's match as he tries to determine how much real depth there is in the squad. There are no suspensions in the team, although Im Chan-ul is still thought to be nursing an injury and may not be available for selection.

Suwon will feel a bit hard done by to concede so late against their hated rivals and will therefore be looking to right the wrong when they come to the island this weekend. They were great in possession for long stretches against Seoul, but their finishing let them down at some very key moments.

Had it not been for No Dong-geon, the match likely would have ended much differently. How they will line up against Jeju could likely look a bit different as the physical toll of last weekend's match on several players was evident at the final whistle. There are no suspensions in the team and so the expectation is that the strongest eleven will start.

The Adversary

That heartbreaking draw to Seoul last weekend perhaps sums up Suwon’s season perfectly. They have shown their class on the odd occasion but not consistently enough to see them rise up the table. They currently sit 9th and only three points separates them from Jeju United, who occupy the relegation play-off spot. With the emergence of Daegu FC at the top of the table, along with FC Seoul returning to form, Suwon need to start picking up points sooner rather than later if they are going to claw their way back into Champions League qualification contention. 

Despite there being promise at the beginning of the season that this would be the year that Suwon would utilise their famous academy and integrate more younger players, Lee Lim-saeng now appears to have a dilemma for who to field in this game. Jeon Se-jin, who has been Lee’s go to U-22 player this year, was missing from the matchday squad for the Super Match and looks set to miss the trip to Jeju too. Oh Hyun-gyu replaced him, becoming the 4th youngest player ever in a Super Match. However, the 18 year old had a poor full debut and was substituted off before the first half had even finished. Midfielder, Song Jin-gyu was also tipped to have a big season after having a good pre-season. However, after also suffering the manager’s wrath on the opening day, when he was removed after only 45 minutes on his debut, the young box-to-box midfielder has only made one substitute appearance since. Jeon Se-jin will be away for the U-20 World Cup for much of May and so Lee will need to decide quickly as to which young player can settle the fastest into his side. 

Suwon will know that a win for the Islanders in this game could see them leap-frog their opponents and if results go badly elsewhere then the Bluewings could find themselves sitting in 11th place in the table come the end of the weekend. With no wins in their last four league games, if they lose this one then all the early season pressure that was on the manager’s shoulders will swiftly return and with upcoming fixtures against Ulsan and Daegu Suwon need to target this game as a must win. 


Prediction

The outcome of this match is a bit tricky to predict as Jeju are relieved to finally have a win under their belts and so they come into the match with a badly needed jolt of confidence. Suwon, meanwhile, had it won against Seoul until the very last and likely feel quite deflated after putting in a solid performance last weekend.

The head to head between them as previously mentioned was fairly even last season, so it could be more of the same this coming weekend. The uncertainty of how Jeju are going to line up is also a matter of consideration, so it is difficult to predict a winner in this one. In the end, the most likely result is a point each in what will be a tightly fought match.

Prediction: Jeju United 1-1 Suwon Bluewings 

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