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Preview: Busan IPark vs Suwon FC


Busan IPark host Suwon FC this Saturday as the K League 2 promotion race enters its final weeks. After a midweek draw against FC Anyang, second place Busan need a win to keep their slim title hopes alive. Mid-table Suwon, meanwhile, are aiming to close the gap to the top four after winning only two of their last sixteen games. 

Last Time Out

FC Anyang 2-2 Busan IPark

Busan fought back from two goals down to salvage a point away to third place Anyang on Wednesday evening, but with leaders Gwangju winning the night before, it will go down as two points lost for the seasiders.

Busan started well and looked the more likely team to open the scoring, with Lee Dong-joon, Soma Novothny, and Romulo all going close in the early stages. It was Anyang who broke the deadlock, however, when Aleksandar Susnjar fouled Cho Kyu-sung outside the box and Chae Gwang-hoon curled the resulting free-kick over the wall and into the corner. The home team doubled their lead just before half time when Busan keeper Choi Pil-soo spilled Alex's seemingly straightforward shot, and Manuel Palacios reacted first to capitalize.

Busan brought on Diego Mauricio for the second half and the Brazilian was heavily involved as the away team pressed for a way back into the game. Lee Dong-joon eventually pulled one back on the hour mark, converting his 10th goal of the season after good work by Kim Jin-gyu down the left. Diego completed the comeback at the death, arrowing a precise finish into the corner after being teed up by Lee Jeong-hyeop.



Jeonnam Dragons 3-2 Suwon FC

Suwon FC, meanwhile, finished on the wrong side of an entertaining encounter at Jeonnam on Wednesday.

Jeonnam raced into an early lead through Bruno Baio's stunning volley in the ninth minute, as both teams struggled with the effects of a waterlogged pitch in stormy conditions. Bruno Nunes doubled the home team's advantage from the penalty spot in first half added time after a VAR-assisted handball decision. The game looked to be wrapped up shortly after the restart when Baio curled in his second from just outside the 18-yard box, but Suwon threatened a late comeback.

Suwon's prolific Nigerian forward Chisom Egbuchunam scored two penalties in the final five minutes to set up a tense finale, but Jeonnam held out for the three points and condemned Suwon to their first defeat in seven games.



Previous Meetings

Busan and Suwon have been fairly evenly matched in previous encounters. In their 14 meetings, both teams have won five times, with four games finishing in draws.

Busan have edged the encounters in 2019, however, winning both away games and drawing 2-2 when Suwon last came to the Gudeok. Busan were the victors when these sides last met in July, a solitary goal from Romulo enough to claim the three points for the seasiders.

Team News

Busan IPark have virtually a full strength squad to choose from, with no fresh injury concerns or suspensions. Veteran left-back Kim Chi-woo is likely to return in place of Park Joon-gang after being rested in midweek, and Lee Jeong-hyeop could replace Soma Novothny up front. Winger Diego Mauricio is also pushing for a start after impressing as a substitute on Wednesday.

Coach Jo Deok-jae experimented with different formations earlier in the year, but he seems to have settled on his preferred 4-3-3 lineup for the end of season run-in. His team are unbeaten in ten, but their inconsistency at the back might prompt a return to the 5-3-2 system that worked well at times earlier this year. Central defender Cha Young-hwan, who returned from military service last month, has featured for the reserve team in recent weeks and could add some much-needed experience to the central defensive pairing of Kim Myung-joon and Susnjar. Should Jo choose to return to a three-man defence, it would also bring out the best in attack-minded full-backs Kim Chi-woo and Kim Moon-hwan.

The Adversary

Chisom Egbuchunam is the K League 2 top scorer with 18 goals.

Suwon FC were one of the early season favourites for promotion, but it looks increasingly likely that they will miss out on a coveted playoff spot. With five games to play, Suwon currently sit five points behind both Asan Mugunghwa and Ansan Greeners, who seem set to battle it out for the final playoff place.

A terrific run during spring saw Suwon win six games out of eight, at which point they looked set to challenge Gwangju and Busan for the automatic promotion spot. Their form has fallen away horribly since then, however. In the following sixteen games they have only picked up two victories, away to Anyang and Daejeon Citizen, and they have conceded an average of 1.8 goals per game during this period.

There is plenty of attacking talent in this Suwon side, but only Bucheon 1995 and Seoul E-Land have conceded more goals this year. They have also been without eight-goal North Korean forward An Byong-jun since July, and they look increasingly reliant on midfield maestro Baek Sung-dong (seven goals, six assists) and marksman Chisom (18 goals, one assist). The playoffs are not yet out of reach for this talented team, but they need to get back to winning ways, and fast.

Who To Watch

Lee Dong-joon
Lee Dong-joon celebrates his winning goal against Gwangju FC last month.

In many ways this has been a breakout season for Busan's 22 year-old winger. Lee showed tantalizing glimpses of his talent in his first two years at the club, but he has added consistency to his game this year and his end product has improved considerably.

Having been involved with the international youth teams for years, Lee has become a key member of the Korean U-23 team in recent months, and he looks set to play a big part as the squad gear up for next year's Olympic Games.

Despite Jo Deok-jae's penchant for rotating wingers and attacking players, Lee has played more minutes for Busan than any other player this year, and he is the only player to have featured in every league game. He has scored ten goals and contributed seven assists in 2019, and his blistering pace is a constant threat to opposition defences. If Suwon show any vulnerability at the back this Saturday, expect Lee Dong-joon to punish them.

Prediction

Both teams can be scintillating in attack and horribly frail in defence, so goals are almost guaranteed. With Chisom in red-hot form and Busan error-prone at the back, expect Suwon to get on the scoresheet. Busan may have missed their chance at automatic promotion, but they are still capable of creating chances galore, and they should do enough to outscore their opponents on Saturday.

Predicted Score:
Busan IPark 3-2 Suwon FC


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