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Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Gangwon FC

Trophy ceremonies will be planned for both Jeonbuk and Ulsan Hyundai this weekend but the former must overcome Gangwon on Sunday to take advantage of any slip up from the Tigers down in Pohang. 26 points separate Jose Morais' side from sixth-placed Gangwon in KLeague 1, who have been a thorn in Jeonbuk's side taking four points from them already this season. 

Last Time Out

Ulsan Hyundai 1-1 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Jung Hyuk started his second consecutive game in the middle of the park and looks in contention to make a first appearance at home since July against Seongnam. The visitors edged the first half proceedings hitting the crossbar early on but the match really sparked into life through a finish of real quality from Kim Jin-su. Running onto Ricardo Lopes' deft flick on, he volleyed an unstoppable strike off the left-hand post from 25 yards. A potential goal of the season.

Backed by a raucous capacity crowd, Ulsan struck back through an unlikely source as Dave Bulthuis grabbed his first goal for the club. The Dutch defender did well to get the necessary pace on the ball and power his header past Song Bum-keun. Ulsan were denied a potentially title-clinching penalty in the final minute as Kim Jin-su collided with Junior Negao in the box. To the home side's dismay, neither the referee nor the VAR officials deemed it overly forceful. Moon Seon-min was certainly missed by Jeonbuk but is set to return from suspension for the finale, although Shin Hyung-min's booking effectively ends his season. Son Jun-ho is expected to fill in for Shin, with Lee Seung-gi pushing into a more central role. 

Gangwon FC 2-4 Daegu FC

After throwing away a 2-0 lead to end their slim Champions League hopes before the international break at Pohang, Kim Byung-soo dropped Valentinos Sielis and Cho Ji-hun for Lee Young-jae and Jung Seung-yong for the visit of Daegu. Gangwon thought they had taken the lead through Lee Hyun-sik on the half hour but his shot on the rebound was eventually disallowed for handball in the build up. Andre's side took advantage just before the break with Kim Dae-won tapping home unmarked after numerous warning shots down the left from the youngster.

The visitors looked to have put they game beyond doubt as Cesinha first scored and then set up Hwang Soon-min to give Daegu a 3-0 lead after 56 minutes. Gangwon boss Kim's three early substitutions were effective as Choi Chi-won came off the bench to find himself free at the back post before fellow bench warmer Lee Ho-in headed home Lee Young-jae's free kick to make the final 10 minutes interesting. In an incredibly end-to-end game the hosts failed to find an equaliser with Cesinha landing the decisive blow in stoppage time, curling inside the post from the edge of the box.

Previous Meetings

Gangwon have been one of few teams to frustrate Jeonbuk this season claiming four points from their three previous encounters.  In August Samuel Rosa scored two of his four goals to date but Lee Young-jae's 101st-minute penalty denied Morais' team victory with Gangwon's second in stoppage time. Interestingly, Gangwon dominated possession with 61% in a 3-3 draw.

May saw another thriller up north with two more quickfire goals from  the hosts. Moon Seon-min spoilt the party though, grabbing a brace including the winner. Early this season Kim Byung-soo's side enjoyed a confidence-boosting win with Kim Ji-hyun netting the winner. Nemanja Bilbija, who came back into the side for October's win over Seoul, started one of just five games this season. 

[LISTEN: KLeague Decision Day Podcast]

The Adversary

Gangwon this season have tended to go all out for the win if not up against the force of the top two. Tendency to attack has allowed them to creep into the top six, preferring to go gung-ho for the three points. Only drawing two in their last 12 has seen this trend continue but against better quality opposition since the split they have conceded 17 in the last seven, nearly a third of their total for the season. Perhaps it would be wise, especially after seeing how Daegu's front line ripped through them, to adopt a more defensive approach.

Kim Byung-soo' side have failed to win away since June, a 2-1 victory at Incheon United thanks to Jung Jo-gook's brace. Unexpected at the time after a stellar run on the road, gathering a paltry three points from a possible 27 with a solitary clean sheet to their name. One positive for Gangwon is that one of three 2019 shut-outs came in the 1-0 win at Jeonbuk.

What To Watch

Jeonbuk's striking options are usually the envy of their KLeague competitors but their strikers are nowhere to be seen at the top of the goal scoring charts this term. Lee Dong-gook may not reach double figures in league goals for the first time since signing for the club and their foreign quota signings of Bernie Ibini and Samuel Rosa have either struggled with injuries or not been afforded playing time. Somewhat strange timing considering the magnitude of the game, Jose Morais brought Ibini out from the cold against Ulsan with 30 minutes remaining. The Australian international caused some danger but couldn't added to his one goal against Gyeongnam. Ko Moo-yeol has been given plenty of opportunities from the bench of late, looked promising in spells but is also yet to find his scoring boots in a green shirt. Samuel Rosa is back in contention after regaining fitness joining Kim Seung-dae as an attacking option, although Morais is expected to stick with Lee Dong-gook being flanked by two wingers.


Losing just once at home in the league since May at home to Daegu, Jeonbuk's home form is the polar opposite of Gangwon's recent away form. As mentioned above, the visitors have had relative success over their opponents this season but with nothing to play for and Jeonbuk's tendency to get the win when it really matters I back a comfortable home win. The atmosphere and urgency of the game may all depend on events down at Pohang vs Ulsan.

Jeonbuk 3-0 Gangwon

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