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Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Jeju United

K League 1 Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Jeju United

Wednesday evening sees K League leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors look to keep themselves ahead of the pack as they welcome a tenth-placed Jeju United to Jeonju World Cup Stadium. The visitors arrive with a plethora of new signings and some quietly encouraging form however and may prove to be more of a headache than some may envisage.

Last Time Out

FC Seoul 2-4 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
A clash between first and third saw the league leaders take the spoils in what was a thrilling affair in Sangam. Jeonbuk twice took the lead through centre back Hong Jeonng-ho (his defelcted first far more fortuitous than his clinical second) only to be pegged back each time by FC Seoul's defender-cum-forward Park Dong-jin. The removal of Park through injury spelt trouble for the hosts, which Jeonbuk quickly acted upon as debutant Kim Seung-dae opened his account for his new club with a well taken, counter-attacking goal. Brazilian Ricardo Lopes rounded off the evening after Moon Seon-min chased a ball down to pull it back to the unmarked winger to finish and ignite celebrations in the crowd. The win saw the North Jeolla side move six points ahead of their capital rivals and into first place after title-chasers Ulsan Hyundai failed to win their game in hand midweek.

Highlights

Gyeongnam FC 2-2 Jeju United
A battle between two of the lowest-ranked teams (and also the weather) ended in an entertaining 2-2 draw, with neither side making strides towards safety as fellow relegation prospects Incheon United claimed victory elsewhere. Gyeongnam opened the scoring within 90 seconds through a towering header from debutant Uros Đerić. Jeju United's Mangno Cruz leveled the scoring 18 minutes later though, converting a low cross from Nam Jun-jae who had worked tirelessly to supply the Brazilian. Jeju would take the lead just prior to half time with a well-taken goal from Yun Il-lok. The three points were not to be for the islanders after Luc Castaignos pulled things level, and the visitors will feel even more disappointed that they could not capitalise on their man advantage after Gyeongnam's Kim Jong-pil saw red in the 75th minutes.

Highlights

Previous Meetings

Jeonbuk have claimed victory in both of the two meetings between these sides this season, winning 1-0 on the island before claiming a 3-1 victory in Jeonju back in May. Jeonbuk have won six of the previous seven meetings between these two sides, last losing to the Islanders in 2017 when both teams were locked in a title race. Jeonbuk have unsurprisingly dominated this fixture throughout its history with 28 wins and nine draws in 46 meetings.

Team News

The biggest team news at Jeonbuk is the arrival of Brazilian striker Samuel Rosa. The new signing only met with manager José Morais on Sunday after the head coach had been on duty with Team K League so it seems unlikely he will be entrusted with a start. Rosa signed from Arabian Gulf League side Al Nasr, where he only scored one goal in thirteen league appearances. However, his record at his previous club Hatta was more productive, scoring ten and eleven goals during his two season stint. Wednesday will also seem the home debut for Kim Seung-dae. Kim could not have asked for a better debut against FC Seoul, being introduced at full time to great effect and earning a goal for his efforts. While he sports the number nine jersey, early indications suggest his role is similar to that of Lee Jae-sung who left last summer and had not really been replaced. He will be expected to start against Jeju. Shin Hyung-min is also likely to return to the squad in his usual defensive midfield after having sat out the Seoul clash through suspension. In terms of absences, while Jeonbuk have no suspensions for this fixture, they continue to be without Choi Bo-kyung, Han Kyo-won and Lee Seung-gi through long-term injury.

Jeju have had a busy end to the transfer window and will be looking to introduce recent the acquisitions of goalkeeper Oh seung-hoon from Ulsan, Suwon's Lim Sang-hyeob and Christian Osaguona from Zoh Ahan in the Persian Gulf Pro League. They have also recently signed former Jeonbuk defender Choi Kyu-baek. The now-25-year-old featured quite frequently for Jeonbuk during their 2016 season in which they eventually claimed the Champions League title.

[READ: Jeju United's new signing, Ighodaro Christian Osaguona]

The Adversary

Despite their lowly position, the Islanders have been finding some joy of late, losing just one of their last five matches and collecting six points over the period, helping pull the side up to 10th. However, there is still a failure to close out matches with the three draws in this period all coming from winning positions.

During this spell, Yun Il-lok has come to the fore, showing some of the attributes that made him so pivotal to FC Seoul over this period. Yun has scored five of his seven league goals in Jeju’s last three outings, including a hat trick against his former employers. Jeonbuk right back Lee Yong will likely be tasked with ensuring the Jeju winger has a quiet evening.

Jeju have deployed a 4-4-2 in two most recent matches but may opt for something a little less exposing to face Jeonbuk. Against FC Seoul Jeju utilised a 4-3-3 formation to incorporate Yun Il-lok and Nam Jun-jae as attacking wingers in addition to Kwoun Sun-hyeong being deployed in front of the defence to help stifle FC Seoul’s attack. Seo Jin-su was added to central midfield to bolster the strength in this area of the pitch for that match. On that occasion Jeonbuk loanee Lee Keun-ho led the line but will be unable to do so here as he will be facing his parent club. Unless new signing Osaguona is entrusted from the off, expect Magno Cruz to be restored to striking duties.

Prediction

Jeonbuk are overwhelming favourites to take all three points on Wednesday and will deploy a full strength squad to ensure such an outcome. The addition of Kim Seung-dae looked an inspired piece of business against FC Seoul in the prior round and he will be expected to put in an even more assured performance this time in front of his new home crowd. Jeju are playing better and it would not be surprising if they found a way through Jeonbuk’s defence at least once, especially given the form of Yun Il-lok, but it is difficult to envisage them being able to hold out the league leaders for the full ninety minutes.

[READ: K League 1 Round 23 Preview]

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