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Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Jeonnam Dragons


It's seventh versus eighth this Saturday in Round 25 of the K League 2, as the two winning sides from last Monday do battle in an attempt to begin an escape from the bottom-half of the table. Bucheon FC 1995 came from behind to come emerge victorious and another win could see them rise to sixth place. The visitors, Jeonnam Dragons, defeated one of the league's top sides to remain within touching distance of Bucheon in the table.

Last Time Out

Going into Monday's game Bucheon had not tasted victory since early July, though they had achieved draws against each of the top three sides in the league. One of their two losses in this period was against then bottom of the table Seoul E-Land, so Bucheon needed to avoid a similar mishap as they travelled to face the current occupiers of last place, Daejeon Citizen. 

Bucheon started the game brightly and had an early goal disallowed by VAR in the 18th minute for offside. It was Daejeon, however, who would strike the first blow as their Brazilian forward Ramazotti, positioned just outside the box, drilled the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the goal in the 41st minute. This lead would barely last into the second-half, though, as Bucheon defender Lim Dong-hyuk had his header saved by Daejeon goalkeeper Park Ju-won. The ball went straight to Bucheon striker Marlon, who poked the ball into the bottom tight hand corner from the six yard box for a 48th minute goal. It was Marlon who scored the winner, as he scored with a powerful left footed shot when one on one with the keeper in the 64th minute. This brace earned him Man of the Match and a place in the K League 2 team of the week alongside his Brazilian teammate, defender Nilson Junior. 

The Ecuadorian is now level with Kim Ryun-do as Bucheon's top scorer this season, both forwards sitting on six goals each. Marlon had a tough time in Korea at the start of the season, but now looks set to pull ahead of Kim as Bucheon's go to attacking option. All of Marlon's goals have come since June, with three in his last two games, and Kim has been benched for several of Bucheon's recent matches. Marlon will be looking to add Jeonnam to the list of teams he has scored against when the two teams play on Saturday. 

Watch highlights of the game here.

In similar fashion to Bucheon, at the beginning of Monday night Jeonnam Dragons had not won a match since July but had drawn at home to Gwangju recently. Jeonnam's previous game was an entertaining 4-2 away loss to FC Anyang, and on Monday night Jeonnam were able to improve their defence and emerge as 2-0 victors over fourth-placed Asan Mugunghwa. Jeonnam opened the scoring in the 33rd minute when striker Bruno Baio toe poked home from outside the area, brilliantly improvising to score his first goal for the club since joining in July. 

Victory was sealed in the 84th minute when midfielder Jeong Jae-hee collected the ball in Asan's half on the counter-attack, held off two defenders and sent a deflected shot looping over the head of the goalkeeper. This victory keeps Jeonnam only three points behind Bucheon in table, and overtaking the Gyeonggi side is essential if Jeonnam want their debut season in the K League 2 to be viewed as anything other than a disaster.

Watch highlights of the game here.

Previous Meetings

The two matches that Bucheon and Jeonnam have played each other this season are the only times that they have faced each other in their history. The points were shared first time around due to a 1-1 draw at Bucheon in April, which featured Song Hong-min scoring a contender for goal of the season with a perfectly struck half-volley from 30 yards. Midfielder Kim Young-uk scored the equaliser for Jeonnam several minutes later, and he would go on to score the only goal in the second match between the clubs in a 1-0 home win for Jeonnam in June. With both clubs in similar form and close together in the league, it is hard to tell who has the upper hand going into match, especially as so many factors have changed since they last faced each other, the emergence of Marlon as a goal scoring threat chief among them.

Team News

Bucheon went through periods of experimenting with a 3-5-2 lineup throughout the season, but it looks like the coach has settled on the 4-5-1 formation that has become their calling card this season. This formation is a nod to the fact that a large amount of Bucheon's quality lies in their midfield, and the club's latest arrival only increases that quality. Upon his return to the club from Asan, midfielder Cho Beom-seok reached 100 K League matches as he started on Monday night. The 28 year-old looks set to become vital for a team that failed to strengthen a great deal in the summer transfer window.

This summer's two 21 year-old loan signings from Jeonbuk, defender Yun Ji-hyuk and attacker Lee Si-heon, were both left out of the squad against Daejeon. Lee has made four appearances for Bucheon, including one start, while Yun has not played yet for the club and has only been on the substitute's bench once. Both players should get more minutes over the course of the season, but this may not happen soon as the coach may want to keep his squad relatively stable due to their good form.

The Adversary

Jeonnam's new summer signing Bruno Baio was initially unimpressive upon his arrival in Korea and picked up three yellow cards in as many games, which saw him receive a suspension for the FC Anyang match a couple of weeks ago. He did manage to repay his club's patience, however, by scoring the opening goal on his return against Asan. This pattern of behaviour is not surprising, as he has never managed to score more goals than yellow cards received in a single season. Arguably his most successful season to date was for Criciuma in 2016, when he scored three goals and received three yellow cards in 11 appearances for the Brazilian Serie B side. He has potential to be both an asset and a liability for Jeonnam.

Jeonnam's other signings have not fared much better - midfielder Lee Hu-kwon has only played 26 minutes, while fellow midfielders Yoon Yong-hoon and Choi Joon-gi were both dropped for the Asan game. As that match coincided with Jeonnam's first win in five games, it would not be surprising to see those players play a limited role versus Bucheon, or were dropped again. One player that definitely will not play for Jeonnam on Saturday is Australian defender James Donachie. After only playing eleven times in 2018 - his only season in Korea - he was loaned to Melbourne Victory this winter, and last week the A-League club announced that they have decided to sign the 26 year-old on a permanent basis.

What To Watch

People planning on watching this game live should not be late. Across both of their previous two clashes, all three goals have been scored in the first half. In April's 1-1 draw, the goals were scored in the 15th and 21st minutes, while in the 1-0 June victory for Jeonnam the game's only goal was in the 25th minute. For Jeonnam this is fairly common, as 18.2% of their goals this season have come 15-30 minutes into the match. This is not the case for Bucheon, as they have only achieved 9.7% of their goals in the same period of matches. If Bucheon fail to score this early then their fans should not be disheartened, as 61% of their goals this season have come in the second halves of games this season.

Prediction

The clubs are next to each other in the table, won their previous game and are in similar form overall. Jeonnam have the slight edge across their previous fixtures, but their sole win was achieved away from home. Bucheon and Jeonnam have both improved over recent weeks, but the return of Cho Beom-seok for Bucheon and his teammate Marlon finding his goal scoring form might edge it for the home side.

Bucheon FC 1995 2-1 Jeonnam Dragons

[READ: K League 2 Round 25 Preview.]



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