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Preview: Busan IPark vs FC Anyang

It's second versus third this weekend as the K League 2's top scoring teams go head to head. FC Anyang travel south looking to bounce back from a surprise defeat last weekend, while Busan IPark will be out for revenge after being thumped 4-1 the last time Anyang came to the Gudeok.

Last Time Out

Gwangju FC 1-1 Busan IPark

Busan IPark missed a golden opportunity to cut Gwangju's lead at the top last Saturday evening. The league leaders had the better of the first half, but after Gwangju captain Choi Jun-hyuk tested Choi Pil-soo with a long range drive, it was Busan who had the game's first real chance. National team right back Kim Moon-hwan scampered into the box from the right, and his cross-shot was palmed right into the path of Han Ji-ho two yards out. Unfortunately the Busan captain could only poke the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.

Gwangju played some good football as the first half wore on, but Busan defended resolutely and restricted the home team's chances. Choi Jun-hyuk had the hosts' only clear-cut chance of the half, and he headed wide when well placed eight yards from goal.

Busan coach Jo Deok-jae changed his side's approach in the second half, replacing centre back Jeong Ho-jeong with winger Kwon Yong-hyun and switching from a 5-3-2 to a 4-3-3. The tactical shift transformed the game, with Busan showing much greater ambition as Gwangju were pushed back. Brazilian playmaker Rômulo eventually broke the deadlock just before the hour mark, his left-footed effort from 30 yards finding its way through a crowd of bodies to nestle in the corner.

Busan looked the more likely team to score next, and Lee Jeong-hyeop was guilty of missing a glorious chance, heading wide from eight yards when completely unmarked. Gwangju rarely threatened and Busan looked set to complete a perfect away performance, but with four minutes left on the clock Aleksandar Šušnjar conceded a free-kick just outside the box. Lee Eu-ddeum duly stepped up to curl home his fourth of the season and maintain Gwangju's five point lead at the summit.

Seoul E-Land 2-0 FC Anyang

Anyang's eight game unbeaten run came to an end last weekend against a resurgent Seoul E-Land. The away team almost got off to the perfect start when Anyang keeper Yang Dong-won cannoned a clearance straight at Won Ki-jong, but the ball bounced harmlessly back to him. The goalkeeper wasn't so lucky in the 20th minute, however. He brought down Kim Gyeong-joon after spilling a through pass, and Robson Carlos Duarte calmly converted the resulting spot-kick to give E-Land the lead.

Things went from bad to worse for Anyang when defender Choi Ho-jung was sent off for a high challenge on 25 minutes, but they were offered a way back into the game when Mo Jae-hyeon was pulled back in the box and Anyang were awarded a penalty. Alex stepped up to convert, but his kick was superbly saved by veteran keeper Kim Young-kwang, who threw himself to his left to tip the ball around the post. Kim Gyeong-joon then had a goal ruled out for offside, and both teams missed good opportunities as the first half ended in a flurry of chances.

Seoul came out strongly after the interval and were awarded their second penalty of the evening when Ahn Seong-bin handled inside the area. Yang Dong-won guessed the right way for Kim Gyeong-joon's penalty, but the ball squirmed under the keeper's body and Seoul's lead was doubled.

Anyang probed for a way back into the game but failed to seriously test Kim Young-kwang in the second half, and Seoul looked dangerous on the break with Duarte and Douglas Coutinho heavily involved in the counters. In the end E-Land held on for their fourth win on the bounce, and Anyang's impressive run came to an end.

Previous Meetings

Anyang have only won twice from 14 attempts against Busan, with Busan winning nine of the encounters between these teams. History can often be misleading, however. One of those Anyang wins came at the Gudeok in March, and it was as comprehensive a victory as they come.

Goals from Manuel Palacios, Alex (2) and an own goal from Kim Moon-hwan silenced the home crowd on the season's opening day, and a solitary reply from Han Ji-ho did little to lift Busan's spirits.

Busan exacted some revenge when these sides met in Anyang in June, a late double from Lee Jeong-hyeop and a Soma Novothny strike giving the away team a three goal lead before Palacios's injury time consolation.

Team News

Busan will be without centre back Aleksandar Šušnjar after the Australian received his ninth yellow card of the season against Gwangju last Saturday. Coach Jo Deok-jae could replace him with one of Hwang Joon-ho or Park Ho-young, youngsters who have mostly featured as substitutes this season.

Alternatively, Jo could revert to the 4-3-3 formation that was utilised to great effect earlier in the season and so nearly put Gwangju to the sword in the second half of last weekend's game. That could mean a starting spot for Kwon Yong-hyun, who impressed off the bench in that game, or Kim Jin-gyu, who has looked lively in cameo appearances in recent weeks.

Regular left-backs Kim Chi-woo and Ku Hyeon-joon have been missing through injury in recent weeks, so right-footed Park Joon-gang could continue to plug the hole after deputising ably during their absence.

FC Anyang, meanwhile, will be without two players through suspension. Defender Choi Ho-jung starts the first of a two game ban for his straight red card against E-Land last week, while 10 goal striker Cho Kyu-sung misses out after his red card against Jeonnam the previous week.

[LISTEN: KLU Pod | U20 World Cup Wrap & Mixed Zone Interviews]

The Adversary

FC Anyang's Alex drives at the Suwon FC defence in the 1-1 draw earlier this month.
FC Anyang have been one of the league's most exciting teams to watch this year. They look nailed on for a playoff place and a win this weekend would put them within four points of Busan in second. 

In Alex and Manuel Palacios, Anyang have two of the most talented and creative foreign players in the league. Alex may have missed a penalty last weekend, but the midfielder has the ability to boss games, and he has amassed an impressive nine goals and five assists so far in 2019. Palacios, meanwhile, is fast, direct, and difficult to subdue. He has eight goals and three assists so far in his debut season in Korea.

Anyang have shown consistently this season that they have it in them to thrash any team in this division. Their 4-1 trouncing away to Busan on the opening day set the tone for a season of big wins against big teams. This summer they have beaten Asan Mugunghwa 4-1, Jeonnam Dragons 4-2, and most famously they embarrassed leaders Gwangju 7-1 in July.

Last weekend's defeat to Seoul E-Land will likely be put aside as a blip in the middle of a fantastic string of results. Expect Anyang to return to their best on Sunday.

What To Watch

Battle of the Brazilians

Busan IPark's Rômulo has scored ten goals from midfield this season.

This game will be won and lost in the midfield, and both teams have talismanic Brazilian playmakers who are bang on form. FC Anyang's Alex was the star man when Anyang thrashed Busan in March, and the 30 year-old has five goals in his last nine appearances. Skillful, strong, and boasting more than five years of experience in the MLS, when Alex is on his game Anyang are capable of tearing teams apart.

For Busan, Rômulo has been at his influential best in recent weeks after a slow start to the season. The 23 year-old's composure in possession and physicality in the middle make him near-undroppable for Jo Deok-jae's side, and he has already equalled last season's tally of ten goals with twelve games still to play.

Alex and Rômulo are similar in stature and style, though they are separated by seven years in age and neither is entirely consistent. Whoever prevails in the midfield battle this weekend is likely to end up on the winning side.


Busan's leaky defence has looked more solid in recent weeks, but the loss of Šušnjar is ill-timed against a dangerous Anyang side. The away team will still pose a threat even without top scorer Cho Kyu-sung, and previous encounters this year suggest that there will be goals on Sunday. The midfield battle will be intriguing and this one could easily swing either way, but a score draw is a safe bet.

Predicted Score:
Busan IPark 2-2 FC Anyang

[READ: K League 2 Round 25 Preview.]

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