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Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Gwangju FC


On Saturday, the weekend's opening game of Round 23 in the K League 2 consists of two teams looking to return to winning ways. Seventh placed Bucheon FC 1995 have only picked up two points in their previous four matches and saw their playoff hopes hit hard by a disappointing loss to the league's bottom side last Sunday. They are visited by the league leaders Gwangju FC who, despite their surprise draw last Saturday, have a chance to extend their lead at the top of the table to ten points.

Last Time Out

Bucheon FC 1995 came into their match last weekend on the back of two consecutive 2-2 draws away against Busan IPark and then at FC Anyang. Considering these two sides occupy second and third in the table respectively, those were positive results that would have given Bucheon a lot of confidence as they travelled to face bottom side Seoul E-Land in Jamsil. Their feelings soon turned negative though, as Bucheon were undone by sloppy defensive play when they failed to clear their lines from a free-kick in the second-half.

A foul from Kim Jae-woo gave E-Land a chance to put the ball into the box, but that chance looked to have been thrown away when Bucheon keeper Choi Cheol-won came out to catch it. Choi, however, spilled the into a pile of players and the ball was weakly pushed to the edge of the penalty area by the Bucheon defence. E-Land's Brazilian winger Robson Carlos Duarte was on hand to calmly side-foot the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal to score for E-Land for the first time in the 53rd minute. E-Land were able to hang on for the 1-0 win, their second consecutive victory and third the league this season. Bucheon may point to the fact that two of their key players, Marlon de Jesus and Ahn Tae-hyun, were suspended as reason for their bad performance. However, starting top scorer Kim Ryun-do on the bench and only bringing him on for the second-half shows that Bucheon may have been overconfident and took things for granted.

You can view highlights of the match here.

After Gwangju succumbed to their now infamous 7-1 away defeat to promotion hopefuls FC Anyang, they bounced back with a 2-0 home win at sixth placed Suwon FC. On Saturday Gwangju faced a side even lower down the table, a Jeonnam Dragons side who are now breathing down the necks of Bucheon. Jeonnam looked like ideal opponents for Gwangju to put together the beginnings of a winning streak, considering that Gwangju had won their previous four encounters between the two sides, but they were only able to come away with a 1-1 draw.

Gwangju took the lead from midfielder Lee Han-do scoring his first goal of the season from a corner at the end of the first-half, a six-yard volley after a goalmouth scramble. This lead did not last too long as Jeonnam equalised in the 55th minute through Jeong Jae-hee's first goal for the club, coolly finishing from close-range after an impressive period of pressure was not dealt with by the Gwangju defence. Gwangju's top scorer Felipe has now only scored one goal in his past five games, which has coincided with the club's slight dip in form. Their lead at the top was cut to seven points after Busan's 1-0 away win at Asan Mugunghwa, and Gwangju will need Felipe to return to his previous form if they are to remain in first place by the end of the season.

You can view highlights of the match here.

Previous Meetings

Over the course of the history between the two sides, it is clear that Gwangju have been the dominant side across the 16 matches that they have played. Gwangju have won nine matches and Bucheon have won three, with there being four draws in total. This is reflected in the recent matches that they have played against each other, with Bucheon only winning one of the previous five matches and Gwangju winning three with one draw. Gwangju have won both of the matches this season, the most recent being a 4-1 home win in June that saw Felipe score twice and striker Marlon register his first goal for Bucheon. That game before that was a 1-0 away victory for Gwangju in May that was secured with a 90th minute goal by their long-serving midfielder Yeo Reum.

While that result may give Bucheon reason to believe that they have more of a chance in this game as they perform more strongly at home, history tells us a different story. In all the matches that have been played between the clubs, only one Bucheon victory and one draw has been achieved at Bucheon's home. Bucheon have also scored nine goals away in this fixture while only scoring five goals at home, although they have conceded slightly fewer goals when they are at home. One cause for hope for Bucheon is that they do seem to perform better against stronger opposition, as their draws versus Busan and Anyang show. Meanwhile Gwangju's draw with Jeonnam away, a team one place below Bucheon in the table, shows that Gwangju are liable to under perform against weaker opposition. This could lead to Bucheon stealing some points, but they will have to be in top form to do so.

Team News

The main news for Bucheon is the return of Ahn Tae-hyun and Marlon de Jesus from suspension. Prior to last weekend winger Ahn had played in every minute for Bucheon this season and has been one of the club's most reliable players. His return is crucial for Bucheon if they are to achieve a similar result as their last win against Gwangju, a 1-0 home win in May 2018, a game in which Ahn played the full 90 minutes. 

Returning Ecuadorian forward Marlon will be needed in order to provide options in attack, as although he has only scored three goals this season he has been involved in a lot of other people's goals. He has also proven that he can score against Gwangju, which before the 7-1 defeat had only been achieved seven other times previously all season. This shows that he is a talented player that can cause Gwangju some problems. If both Ahn and Marlon are in good form, Bucheon could be tough opponents on Saturday.

The Adversary

One of the most surprising decisions by the Gwangju coach in the Jeonnam game was captain Yeo Reum being left out of the starting lineup. This also occurred in the previous game at home to Suwon, a game in which Gwangju won 2-0. For the Suwon game Yeo was replaced in the centre of midfield by Lim Min-hyuk, although Yeo did come on for Lim as a 76th minute substitute while they were leading 1-0. The 22 year-old Lim obviously impressed enough for this same situation to occur again against Jeonnam. This time Yeo came on for Lim earlier, in the 49th minute, again while they were winning 1-0. Lim is clearly a talented player with good prospects for the future, but the coach may want to go with his more trusted and experienced players in order to ensure a winning return from the Jeonnam draw.

Gwangju's two summer signings have made appearances since arriving but not yet been given many chances to impress their new employers. 23 year-old Brazilian midfield loan signing Ratinho, who joined from the club Goias of his homeland, has only made one 18 minute long substitute appearance for Gwangju. Fellow new player Choe Ho-ju, a 27 year-old attacker who previously played for Ansan Greeners, has made two substitute cameos that were only seven minutes long in total. As Gwangju confidently dispatched Bucheon the last time they played, this could potentially be the match in which one or both players gets to make an impact. However, due to the game's importance, there is of course a big chance they will be left on the bench again.

Who To Watch

Marlon de Jesus and Ahn Tae-hyun will be returning to the Bucheon squad from suspension, but if Kim Ryun-do is included in the starting eleven he might be the player that will give Bucheon the biggest edge in their battle for points. Kim is Bucheon's top scorer with six goals, but he has only scored once in the previous five games. However, for two of those games he started on the bench including the game at Seoul E-Land on Sunday. Kim clearly does not suit the super-sub role, as every goal he has scored this season has come in a match that he has started in. As he is the club's biggest attacking threat, starting him at Gwangju could be crucial for Bucheon.

Prediction

Bucheon have continued to be inconsistent but have recently proved themselves to be able to achieve points against the league's big sides. Their visitors may prove to be a step too far for Bucheon,  but Gwangju themselves have had recent troubles. Bucheon's returning players may give them the strength to prove that their Seoul E-Land loss was a blip. Gwangju, meanwhile, could relish this chance to make a statement and put pressure on their distant title challengers Busan IPark and FC Anyang, who both play on Sunday.

Bucheon FC 1995 1-2 Gwangju FC



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