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Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Asan Mugunghwa

Two teams looking to climb up the table in the closing weeks of the season meet on Sunday in round 34 in the K League 2. The hosts, sixth-placed Bucheon FC 1995, know that a win will see them overtake the visitors and be only one place outside the playoffs. Asan Mugunghwa, meanwhile, face an uncertain future and are in bad form but go into this game with an opportunity to close down on fourth place.

Last Time Out

Jeonnam Dragons 0-1 Bucheon FC 1995

After two defeats against Busan IPark and Daejeon Citizen saw Bucheon's play-off hopes seemingly destroyed, a 2-1 away win at FC Anyang allowed Bucheon to travel to Gwangyang with the smallest of promotion hopes remaining. Jeonnam were two points ahead of Bucheon and had won their three previous games, so Bucheon knew that victory would be both important and difficult to obtain.

Bucheon started as the stronger team, and Jeonnam did not in fact register a single shot in the whole of the first-half. Bucheon took advantage of this by scoring the game's only goal in the 43rd minute after being awarded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Brazilian defender Nilson Junior took the shot and a big deflection off Jeonnam's Jeong Jae-hee sent the ball into the back of the net. In the second half Jeonnam improved their attack slightly and looked like they had a wonderful opportunity to take control of the game in the 68th minute, as Bucheon midfielder Park Yo-han was sent after for a reckless tackle from behind, giving him his second yellow card of the match.

The man advantage did not help the Dragons as they wasted their possession and did not mount any threatening attacks. Experimenting with having both Brazilian Bruno's Nunes and Baio did not work, and Bucheon overtook Jeonnam into sixth place because of it. Nilson Junior was named as Man of the Match and in the K League 2 Team of the Week for his goal and good defensive work and is now Bucheon's top scorer with nine goals this season, which is triple his previous best of three goals in a season back in 2017.

Watch highlights of the match here.

Asan Mugunghwa 0-1 Daejeon Citizen

Asan had the comfort of a home match last Saturday, but the situation they found themselves in going into the match was anything but comfortable. Uncertainty over their future means that the club does not know if they will be allowed to compete in the play-offs if they finish in the top four, or even if they will exist next season at all. The doubts hanging around the club may have contributed to the current bad slump that they are in. Only winning once in their previous nine matches before Saturday, Asan had stalled and needed some points to prevent clubs like Bucheon, Jeonnam and Suwon catching up with them.

After a fairly even first-half Daejeon took the lead in the 53rd minute. Some sloppy ball control caused Asan to lose possession just inside their own half via a tackle from Daejeon's Matheus Antonio. The Brazilian then sprinted down the field to slot the ball passed the Asan keeper into the back of the net. Asan thought they had equalised five minutes later when an unmarked Oh Se-hoon tapped in from a free-kick, but the goal was ruled out for offside. Asan were unable to get another chance and Antonio's goal finished as the only one of the match. Asan remain in fifth place but could drop as low as seventh if results do not go their way this weekend. Asan's days of briefly challenging for the title earlier in the season look like a distant memory and this bad spell is an unfortunate way for last year's champions to end their season.

Watch highlights of the match here.

Previous Meetings

Asan have historically been the dominant team in the fixture as they have won 16 matches, Bucheon have six victories and there have been seven draws. This dominance was on display last year as Asan were the victor on three occasions, with the only blemish being a goalless draw at home. This year, as well as being closer in the table, the teams have had more even results in meetings between each other. Asan drew first blood with a 3-2 win at home in much, with Ko Moo-yeol scoring the decisive hat-trick for the hosts. This was followed by a goalless draw at Bucheon in May.

September saw another 3-2 result at Asan, but it was Bucheon who were the victors. In an entertaining encounter the lead changed hands three times, finally being secured by an injury time winner from Nilson Junior for Bucheon. Bucheon haven't won at home in this fixture since 2017 but this Asan side is the weakest it has been since then, so this will be a great chance for Bucheon to break that streak.

Team News

Due to the red card he picked up last weekend, Bucheon midfielder Park Yo-han will be suspended for the match this Sunday. This should not effect Bucheon too much as the 24 year-old has only made seven appearances for the club this season and is on the periphery of the squad. He may be sad to miss this game in particular, though, as his only goal of the season came against Asan in the 3-2 defeat back in March. While he is out of action, two players return from suspension in the form of Kim Ryun-do and Park Gun. Both players, especially captain Park Gun, will likely play on Sunday.

Nilson Junior, Kim Jae-woo, Gam Han-sol, Jang Hyun-soo, Song Hong-min, Cho Soo-chul and Lee Kwang-jae remain one card away from suspension for Bucheon. Bucheon are likely to ignore the risks for these players and play a full strength squad as they are so close to the end of the season, and they will also likely play with the 3-4-3 formation that has been a feature of there last two victories. 

The Adversary

Asan have no suspensions, though they do have five players that are one card away from suspension: Jeong Da-hwon; Jang Soon-hyeok; Min Jun-yeong; Yang Tae-ryeol; Kim Min-seok. As the majority of these players have been regulars recently, it causes a bit of a dilemma for the coach as to rest them or not. However, similarly to Bucheon, with so few games left to the end of the season Asan are unlikely to care about the risks of losing players to suspension. Asan are likely to name a side similar to that of recent weeks, with a front three of Lee Jae-gun, Oh Se-hun and Park Min-seo looking to expose Bucheon's leaky defence, the third worst in the league.


What To Watch

The two things to watch on Sunday are linked: can Bucheon win three games in a row and can they win at home? Bucheon have not been able to achieve three consecutive matches of the same kind of result this season. This means that the most consecutive matches they have won is two, the most draws in a row is two matches, and the biggest losing streak is two matches. Considering Bucheon are six points behind fourth-placed FC Anyang with only three games left, and they have a much worse goal difference and goal scored record than Anyang, Bucheon are going to need to win all three of their final games to stand any chance of reaching the play-offs.

What will make it harder to achieve those necessary wins is Bucheon's poor home record, as two of Bucheon's final three games are at home. Most teams seem to get a boost when playing in front of their home crowd and some teams consider their stadium to be a fortress. However, this season Bucheon have had a lot more success on their travels. Out of the 11 matches that Bucheon have won this season, only three have happened at Bucheon stadium. The fact that two of these victories  occurred in the opening two games of the season in March makes them seem like even more of a distant memory. The only other home success for Bucheon was three months later in June, when they won 3-2 at home to bottom side Seoul E-Land. As that was four months ago Bucheon are perhaps due another home victory, but Asan are a different side to Seoul E-Land, regardless of their current bad form.


Both teams are in similar positions in the table, have access to largely full-strength squads, and have performed evenly against each other this season. Bucheon have not achieved three wins in a row this season and have struggled at home all year. However, Bucheon are the in-form team and have more to fight for considering the uncertainty hanging around Asan's future. It should be a close game, but Bucheon could be able to end some bad habits this Sunday.

Bucheon FC 1995 2-1 Asan Mugunghwa

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