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Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Busan IPark

It's round 30 in K League 2 and two sides at opposite ends of the promotion race compete for crucial points on Sunday. The hosts, seventh placed Bucheon FC 1995, come into the match knowing that they need wins from most of their remaining matches to stand a chance at qualify for the play-offs. Second placed Busan IPark, meanwhile, are deep in a title race and are only five points off of top spot with seven games left to play this season.

Last Time Out

Ansan Greeners 1-2 Bucheon FC 1995

Bucheon came into this match last Sunday following a mixed bag of results that looked to have ended their promotion campaign. An impressive 3-2 win away at Asan Mugunghwa was followed by a 1-1 home draw against their neighbours in the table Suwon FC. Just three days later Bucheon lost 1-0 away to league leaders Gwangju FC, meaning that they were ten points adrift of the all important fourth place coming into the weekend.

The occupiers of that final promotion spot are Ansan Greeners, and Bucheon would have made the short trip south knowing that a loss would have meant a probably unassailable 13 point gap between the two sides. Things initially looked worrying for Bucheon as the hosts took the lead in the 16th minute thanks to Park Jun-hui, with the defender firing in at close range thanks to impressive Ansan build up play. The lead did not last long, however, as Bucheon equalised in the 21st minute when an unmarked Kim Han-bin met a cross from the right-wing with a side-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal. Ansan thought they had restored their lead just before half-time, but had a goal disallowed when VAR alleged that a foul had been committed in the build-up. 

VAR was also going to play a crucial role in Bucheon's victory, as it was used to award an injury time penalty for the visitors after an Ansan arm blocked a Bucheon shot in the penalty area. In the 94th minute of added time Brazilian defender Nilson Junior stepped up and confidently slotted the ball into the bottom right-hand corner, just out of reach of the Ansan keeper. The 30 year-old Nilson has now scored six goals this season, making him Bucheon's joint second highest goalscorer alongside forward Kim Ryun-do. Nilson's heroics also ensured that he was named Man of the Match and earned a place in the K League 2 Team of the Week. Bucheon are now seven points away from the play-off places, with a mix of opponents that will ensure that there is no guarantee of predicting where they will finish in November. Promotion is certainly possible, but only if they put together a run of form that they have not yet achieved this season.

Watch highlights of the match here.

Busan IPark 3-2 Gwangju FC

Busan IPark have not lost since the end of July, but a run of five straight draws leading up to Monday night meant that they were in danger of slipping out of the title race. However, by facing league leaders Gwangju FC they had a good chance of cutting down the eight point deficit to only five points. Things started brightly for Busan as they opened the scoring in the 19th minute with a brilliantly curved direct free-kick by Brazilian midfielder Romulo that left the Gwangju goalie routed to the spot. An indirect free-kick by captain Park Jong-woo lead to Busan doubling their lead in the 25th minute. The cross by Park was met by forward Lee Dong-jun, who headed in from the edge of the six yard box. Gwangju almost had the perfect response as their Brazilian forward Ratinho hit a well struck left-footed shot into the goal. However, a VAR ruling disallowed the goal due to a Gwangju player being offside earlier in the build-up.

In the second half Gwangju continued to press and were rewarded with a goal in the 55th minute, courtesy of a powerful close-range shot from forward Kim Ju-gong, scoring his first ever professional goal in the process. Gwangju found themselves level in the 64th minute, when Willyan struck a cross hard and low, giving the goalkeeper no opportunity to save it. The hard work by Gwangju to cut Busan's lead was undone soon after, though, as Lee Dong-jun scored his second of the night for Busan in the 68th minute, striking from close range after the Gwangju defence failed to deal with a Busan cross. Both sides continued to create chances, but Lee's goal was to prove the winner at the final whistle. The result means that Busan have essentially guaranteed themselves a play-off place and have put themselves in a good position to overtake Gwangju if results can go their way. Every team in Busan's remaining fixtures will be worried, as Busan will want to avoid the play-off heartache that they have experienced in so many previous seasons.

Watch highlights of the match here.

Previous Meetings

Historically things have been rather even between the two sides with Busan achieving six wins, Bucheon winning five times, and there being five draws. Busan are also slightly ahead in terms of goals scored with 19, though Bucheon only just trail with a total of 17 goals. This fixture has only experienced one goalless match, though no side has ever experience a victory with a margin greater than two goals, so it should be an entertaining and not too one-sided affair. Last season Bucheon was the more successful side, despite the fact that Busan finished the season in third place and Bucheon was in eight position. A victory by Busan in the FA Cup was followed in the league by two draws and two Bucheon victories.

This season has swung in favour of Busan, though they still are not dominating the fixture. They first met in a 3-3 draw in Busan back in March, a game in which Romulo scored a hat-trick for Busan and Nilson Junior equalised in the 90th minute for Bucheon. This was followed by a 3-1 Busan win in Bucheon in May with a whole different set of scorers as this time Lee Jeong-hyeop was the man in form for Busan, scoring a brace to win the game for his club. The third time these sides have met this season was in July in a 2-2 draw in Busan. Nilson Junior and Romulo each scored one apiece, but the game was ultimately decided by an own goal from Busan player Kim Myoung-jun in the 90th minute that gave Bucheon a point.

Going by the history, goals are almost a guarantee as there have been 14 goals across the three matches they have played this season. Busan are the stronger outfit, but Bucheon have proven that they can go the distance in this fixture and will likely score goals themselves. 

Team News

Bucheon have a major setback as their key attacking threat Marlon de Jesus is suspended for Sunday's Busan match after accumulating three yellow cards in previous matches. The Ecuadorian is the club's top scorer with eight goals, and as all of them have come since mid-June he is in top form. Bucheon will have to rely on other players for their goals, though this should not be a problem as out of all the six goals that Bucheon have scored against Busan this season, none of them have come from Marlon.

It is possible that the coach will use this opportunity to reintroduce Kim Ryun-do to the starting line-up. Kim has not scored for over two months now and has not scored against Busan this season, but there must be great temptation to play him due to the good luck that his goal scoring brings: in his entire career he has never been on the losing side in a match that he has scored in.

For the majority of this season Bucheon have started matches with five midfielders on the pitch, with 4-5-1 being the most favoured formation and 3-5-2 being used on occasion. Last Sunday the coach decided to switch things up and use a 3-4-3 formation, which paid dividends in the form of the 2-1 win. Marlon started in the centre of the three attackers, but of course due to his suspension that cannot occur. A switch back to 4-5-1 may be unlikely, however, as Bucheon lack any other out-and-out strikers that can cause problems for defences on their own. This could mean that 3-4-3 may continue to be used, or the 3-5-2 formation will make a return.

The 3-4-3 formation still allowed there to be enough midfielders for the return of Cho Soo-chul, who was making his first appearance back for Bucheon since finishing his national service with Sangju Sangmu earlier in the week. He lined up alongside Cho Beom-seok, who has made an impact to the team since he returned from national service at Asan Mugunghwa one month earlier. Both players were singled out for their praise in the Ansan game by Bucheon coach Song Seon-ho, who stated: "I will say thank you to the players for today. Especially, Cho Soo-chul and Cho Beom-seok led  the game well in midfield. But a thank you is needed for all our players."

Compliments such as these will no doubt be a confidence boost for both players, but definitely Cho Soo-chul in particular, as the midfielder only made two first team appearances for Sangju Sangmu across the two seasons that he was with the club. The lack of match time over the years would have caused some to doubt his ability, but the coach's faith at putting him in the starting line-up was immediately repaid and he should start again against Busan.

The Adversary

Busan come into the weekend with a largely full strength side. Romulo returned to Busan's starting line-up against Gwangju after spending some time out due to injury. He was joined by holding midfielder Park Jong-woo, who was absent for one match due to  suspension. Both of these players are likely to remain in the starting line-up for Busan. One player that also returned from injury on Monday was right-back Kim Moon-hwan, although he did not make an appearance until being brought on as a substitute in the 87th minute. He was most likely kept on the bench so as not to aggravate his injury, but due to Busan winning against Gwangju it is unclear if he will return or if the Busan coach will keep faith in his winning team.

Cha Young-hwan, a former teammate of Cho Soo-chul at Sangju Sangmu, returned from his national service last week but was left out of the squad for the Gwangju game. He only made six appearances in total for the military side, including only one this season, and was likely rested on Monday night due to persistent injury problems. If he is to return on Sunday he will likely be placed on the bench, as his transition back into the Busan first team looks to be a gradual one.

Who To Watch

Bucheon's goals against Busan this season have been spread across five different players, with the only player to score twice for Bucheon in the fixture being Nilson Junior. The former Busan defender is having the most prolific season of his career with six goals, more than the five goals he scored in his previous two Bucheon seasons combined. His late equaliser in March against Busan was his first goal of the season, though he then went on a bit of a dry spell. The next goal he would score would come in July versus Suwon FC and he has scored for more goals since then. His sudden form has come at a convenient time for Bucheon, as the Suwon FC game was the last time that Kim Ryun-do scored for Bucheon and they are now both sitting on six goals for the season. Coincidentally, Nilson Junior shares a similar statistic with Kim Ryun-do that has proven lucky for Bucheon: they have not lost a game this season in which Nilson Junior has scored in.

As well as being asked to contribute goals, Nilson Junior is going to be needed on top of his game in defence. Busan have scored the highest amount of goals in K League 2 with 58 goals in 29 matches, while Bucheon have the second worst defensive record in the league. The Gyeonggi side have conceded 42 goals this season, and the only team that has conceded more goals is bottom of the table Seoul E-Land with 54 goals conceded. Bucheon have conceded eight goals against Busan this season, which is an average of almost three goals per game, higher than Busan's season scoring average of two goals per game. As Bucheon's top scorer Marlon is out injured, their chances of scoring will be reduced, meaning that points will be more likely to be earned if they can prevent Busan from scoring. This will be a tough ask, considering that four Busan players are in the top ten list of highest goal scorers this season, so Nilson Junior and his fellow defenders will have to be in their best form.


Busan are the favourites to win this match in terms of both form and firepower. Busan also have a full strength squad at their disposal, while Bucheon will be missing their key striker Marlon. However, this may not affect Bucheon too much as Marlon has yet to score against Busan, and Bucheon have managed to score six goals against Busan and draw twice against them this season. Bucheon have also been strengthened in midfield due to the returning Cho Soo-chul and Cho Beom-seok, two players that Busan did not have to face in their previous games against Bucheon. Both teams have a lot to play for and their games always come with goals, but despite their best efforts they might just cancel each other out .

Bucheon FC 1995 2-2 Busan IPark

[READ: K League 2 Round 30 Preview.]

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