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Preview: Busan IPark vs Daejeon Citizen

Busan IPark welcome Daejeon Citizen to the Gudeok Stadium this Sunday evening in what could be an intriguing match-up in the K League 2. Second-placed Busan ground out victory against promotion rivals Asan Mugunghwa last weekend to stay on Gwangju's heels, but recent performances have been far from convincing. Second-bottom Daejeon, meanwhile, ended a fourteen game winless run last week with their best performance in months. Can they throw a spanner into Busan's promotion plans?


via Soccerway

Last Time Out

Asan Mugunghwa 0-1 Busan IPark

Busan IPark recovered from their slip against Ansan Greeners by beating Asan Mugunghwa away last Sunday. Coach Jo Deok-jae implemented a 5-3-2 formation for the first time this season, and the defensive setup invited Asan to probe and dictate the pace of the game in the first half. It was Busan who had the first notable chance, however, Lee Dong-joon scampering away behind the Asan defence only to side-foot wide of the post. Ahn Hyun-beom then went close for the hosts, cutting inside veteran full-back Lee Jong-min to sting Choi Pil-soo's palms with a fierce drive.

Rômulo then went close for Busan with an audacious effort from well inside his own half, and despite Asan's monopoly of possession, it was the away team who broke the deadlock. Striker Soma Novothny broke forward from half way and overhit the pass that would have presented Han Ji-ho with a simple chance. The Busan captain reacted well, however, digging out a cross back to the Hungarian forward, who directed a magnificent header over Asan keeper Choi Bong-jin.

Asan continued to enjoy the lion's share of possession after the goal, and their best chance of the game came arrived shortly after the interval. Midfield maestro Lee Myung-joo teed up Ahn Hyun-beom 12 yards out, but the winger scuffed his shot off target. Both teams had further chances, with Asan going closest when Kim Jun-su headed narrowly wide from a corner, but Busan weathered the late storm well and held on for three points.

Ansan Greeners 0-2 Daejeon Citizen

Daejeon served up the surprise of last weekend by ending a seven game losing streak away to in-form Ansan Greeners. Daejeon handed a first start to new Brazilian signing Matheus Antonio, and the forward was instrumental in both the Purples' goals. In the 19th minute he beat his man and delivered a low ball across the box for Romanian Aurelian Chitu to poke in his sixth goal of the season. The Brazilian then got on the scoresheet himself when Greeners keeper Lee Hee-Seong punched the ball straight at him in the 39th minute. Antonio controlled the ball on his chest 15 yards out and swept home a sweet low volley to give the away team a two goal advantage at half-time.

Ansan threatened after the break, going close twice through headers from Park Jin-sub and Kim Yeon-soo, but Daejeon continued to look dangerous. Antonio was unfortunate not to win a penalty when he nipped the ball past Lee Hee-seong and appeared to be brought down by the keeper, and he later forced Kim into a good save after dancing around several challenges inside the box. Ansan pushed Daejeon back late on but failed to seriously trouble goalkeeper Park Jae-woo, and the visitors held on for their first win since April.

Previous Meetings

This will be the 50th meeting between these sides, and Busan have the favourable record from previous ties. IPark have won 25 games to Daejeon's 14, and scoring 75 goals to Daejeon's 50. They have faced off twice already this year, and Busan were victorious on both occasions.

At the Gudeok in April, Chitu gave Daejeon the lead on the hour mark, but Busan responded with well-taken goals from Lee Dong-joon and Diego Mauricio. The Brazilian's winner came late in injury time and sent Daejeon home deflated.

The last time these sides met was even more of a forgettable experience for the Purples. Busan ran out 5-0 winners away from home in May, braces from Novothny and Lee Jeong-hyeop and an injury time finish from Lee Dong-joon putting the shine on a straightforward win. Daejeon will be out for revenge on Sunday.

Busan's Lee Dong-joon and Daejeon's Park Soo-il battle for the ball during Busan's 5-0 win in May.

Team News

Busan IPark have Kim Moon-hwan and Hwang-joon-ho available again after the defenders served their suspensions for red cards. Kim should return at right-back, but Hwang might have to settle for a place on the bench after Busan recorded a rare clean sheet last Sunday.

Busan could be short of attacking options this weekend as in-form striker Novothny will miss out having notched up his third yellow card of the season in Sunday's victory. Talismanic striker Lee Jeong-hyeop is also a doubt after missing the last game through injury, so there could be a rare start for Choi Seung-in or mercurial Brazilian talent Diego; alternatively, captain Han Ji-ho could be pushed further forward to lead the line.

Coach Jo Deok-jae experimented with a three-man defence for the win at Asan, handing veteran centre-back Jeong Ho-jeong his first start of the season. After keeping out the military team, Jo will need to decide whether to stick to the winning formation or implement a more attacking lineup for the visit of Daejeon.

The Adversary

Daejeon Citizen fans have endured a torrid time of things this season. Before last weekend's game, they were on a run of seven defeats in a row and fourteen games without a win. Manager Lee Heung-sil, who took over at the start of July this year, stated upon his appointment that his primary goal was to get the team "back on track". Last weekend's performance gave perhaps the first indication that the team might be coming around to his methods.

Daejeon still have a long way to go to get among the pack - they currently sit seven points behind Jeonnam Dragons in eighth - but there were signs in the win at Ansan that things are moving in the right direction. Despite being pushed back by the in-form Greeners, they limited the home side to half chances, and the goalkeeper was rarely, if ever, at full stretch. They also looked lively and dangerous in attack, thanks in no small part to their foreign duo of Aurelian Chitu and Matheus Antonio. Busan might be a different proposition to Ansan, but suddenly it's not all doom and gloom around the club anymore. Another good result this weekend will only further Lee's popularity with supporters.

Who To Watch

Matheus Antonio celebrates his first Daejeon Citizen goal.

Could Matheus Antonio be the man to bring Daejeon's dismal season to life? Judging by his full debut last weekend, he may very well be. The 24 year-old scored 12 goals from 15 games in the Slovakian second division last year, and the Brazilian was a constant menace for the Greeners defence at the weekend, racking up a goal and an assist and going close with further attempts.

Tellingly, Antonio also linked up excellently with key man Chitu. If that partnership continues to flourish then Daejeon will have a formidable forward line for the second half of the season, especially if Park In-hyeok can continue to build on the excellent promise he showed last season. It's early days, but Antonio looks like just the kind of player that could inject some life into this stuttering team. If he continues in the way he's started, Daejeon have a real chance of closing the gap to Jeonnam.


Busan IPark seem to be going through something of a mid-season identity crisis. After their buccaneering attacking style saw them drop points recently to Bucheon and Ansan, they went back to basics for the win at Asan. At home, however, fans will not be happy to watch them sit back against the league's second bottom team.

I expect Busan to go back to their attacking roots for this one, and it should make for a thrilling game. With Busan's leaky defence meeting a reinvigorated Daejeon attack, the visitors will fancy their chances of getting on the scoresheet. Expect chances at both ends, unfathomable defensive errors, and moments of surprising brilliance.

Predicted Score:
Busan IPark 2-2 Daejeon Citizen

[READ: K League 2 Round 23 Preview]

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