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Preview: Suwon Bluewings vs Gangwon FC

The Suwon Bluewings recorded a second successive clean sheet in their midweek romping of the Pohang Steelers and will be in good spirits when they host Gangwon FC in the K League 1 this weekened. Coming off two successive losses, Gangwon will be hoping to bounce back at a stadium where they have had some recent fortune. 

Last Time Out

Suwon Bluewings 3-0 Pohang Steelers
The Suwon Bluewings picked up their 400th victory in the K League on Wednesday evening when they beat Pohang for the second time in just over a month. They took the lead early in the first half when a fine pull-back from the byline, by Hong-chul, was met by Han Eui-kwon. The winger, under pressure, placed a well struck shot across the keeper and into the side netting to give the home side the lead.

Suwon doubled that lead in the 53rd minute when after yet more good work from Hong-chul, Dejan found himself in space on the left side of the penalty area. His pull-back found it's way to Elvis Sarić and the midfielder's first time shot had enough power and placement to beat Ryu Won-woo in the Pohang goal.

The Bluewings sealed all three points in the 81st minute and Hong-chul was once again the provider. His left-footed delivery from a free-kick was met by the head of Choi Seung-geon, and the midfielder directed his header across goal to give Suwon a vital win.

Full match highlights can be found here. 

Gangwon FC 2-3 Jeonbuk Hyundai 
Gangwon FC played out an entertaining 2-3 loss against defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai and will feel hard done by that they couldn't take anything from the game. Jeonbuk took the lead after only 5 minutes when Gangwon failed to deal with a long ball from Song Bum-keun. The looping ball was neatly headed on by Lopes and Moon Seon-min was on hand to steer home from only six yards out.

Jeonbuk had a chance to double their lead midway through the first half after Gangwon defender Lee Ho-in had been adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area. However, Lee Dong-gook skied his effort over the bar and handed Gangwon a reprieve.

And they grabbed that second chance with both hands at the end of the half scoring two goals in quick succession. The first goal came through centre back Valentinos Sielis following a goal mouth scramble and the second coming off the head of Kim Oh-gyu.

However, a second half fightback from Jeonbuk saw the away team take all three points. Son Jun-ho had the away team back level in the 73rd minute when he connected with a sublime Lee Ju-yong cross and Moon Seon-min sealed the points in the 78th minute. The forward scored his second of the game, running on to a through ball and lofting his shot over the goalkeeper.

Full match highlights can be found here. 

Previous Meetings

There haven't been too many meetings between these two in the history of the league but of those few games played Suwon have most certainly had the upper hand. With 12 wins to Gangwon's 4 against them, Suwon have most certainly deemed this as a happy fixture. However, half of those Gangwon wins have been accumulated over the last two years and they beat Suwon on their own patch as recently as last summer. It's been seven games since the last draw between these two and only two of those matches saw the teams being separated by more than one goal.

The two have already met on one occasion this season with Suwon coming out on top. Goals from Dejan Damjanović and Yeom Ki-hun were enough to hand Suwon their first points on the road this year.

Team News

Lee Lim-saeng experimented with Yeom Ki-hun playing in a central role in midweek. The captain, operating in an unfamiliar area just in front of the midfield two, was instrumental in the dismantling of Pohang and Yeom, fitness permitting, may find himself playing through the centre from now on. With Yeom playing in the centre of midfield Suwon's passing and ability to create chances increased dramatically. But also, his move to the centre allowed other players to shine. Elvis Sarić, with another capable body in midfield, was able to break forward more often and was a constant thorn in Pohang's side. As too was Hong Chul who, without Yeom occupying the left-side of the pitch, was able to get forward with more ease than earlier in the season and finished the match with two assists.

The big news for Suwon is that top scorer, Adam Taggart, is once again fit after a three game layoff. The Australian might not be ready for the starting line-up but he is expected to take his place among the substitutes. Right-back, Shin Se-gye, will also make a return after being unavailable for the last match.

Unfortunately for Suwon, Sarić picked up his 3rd yellow card of the season in the Pohang game and he won't be available for this fixture. One of Park Hyung-jin or Kim Jong-woo will likely fill in for the midfielder but Suwon will desperately miss Sarić's energy and breaks from midfield. Jeon Se-jin and Jo Sung-jin will also continue their spells out of the team as the youngster is away with the Korean U-20 national team and the centre-back is still recovering from injury.

Gangwon will also have their own problems in selection as Lee Hyun-shik sits out this game due to suspension.

The Adversary

After an awful start to the season Gangwon looked likely relegation candidates at the end of March. Only two wins from their opening eight matches had them sitting in a lowly league position and only Incheon and Jeju were below them in the table. However, a late spring revival saw them shoot up the table. Six wins from seven games had Gangwon as high as 5th a few weeks ago and they were within touching distance of the top 3. However, two losses from their last two games has seen them stumble and Suwon could even overtake them in the table depending on the result of this game.

Although that drop in the table will frustrate Gangwon supporters they should still be happy that their team has performed above expectations so far. They have improved their defence significantly from last year and are finally beginning to convert the chances that they create. The big bonus for Gangwon has been the impressive performances from their midfield. Gangwon top the league in passes made, average possession and progressive forward runs made, and also rank second in the league for progressive forward passes and deep completions.

Gangwon are likely to go through inconsistent periods of form but so far they are proving wrong those people who suggested them as likely relegation candidates. In this form, they could be contenders for a top-half finish.

Who To Watch

Gangwon's Han Kook-young is having a superb season after returning from a knee injury that kept him out of action for the entirety of 2018. His presence in midfield has not only helped Gangwon control games more than last year but has also provided an improved screen for the defence, and has added some much needed passing quality to Gangwon.

Han is the league leader in passes made, making an impressive 162 more passes than his nearest challenger, and at an incredible 91.5% accuracy rate. He is also second in the league for the number of passes he has completed to the final third, making only four fewer than Lee Chang-min, who leads the way. He is also 5th in the league for progressive forward runs made joining the likes of Ricardo Lopes, Cesinha and Kim Dae-won in the top five.

It will be interesting to see how Han can influence the game if Yeom Ki-hun does, once again, find himself playing in the centre of midfield and that central area will be vitally important in this match.

Prediction

This game will almost certainly be won or lost in midfield. If Gangwon can keep possession of the ball and force Suwon to attack on the counter, something they don't have the personnel to excel at, then they may well have the opportunity to gain their fifth ever victory over Suwon. However, if Suwon can make this a scrappy game and not allow Gangwon to build slowly then they have the better fire power of either team that could capitalise on any mistakes made.

Suwon Bluewings 2-0 Gangwon FC


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