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Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Jeju United

The fourth round of fixtures in the K League 2 is also the first set of midweek matches of the season, and will feature a truly historic encounter between two teams at opposite ends of the table. The hosts, league leaders Bucheon FC 1995, will want to keep their 100 percent record intact and become the first side to reach double figures in points in the division. Eighth placed Jeju United, meanwhile, will be travelling to their former home to try to achieve their first win of the season.

Last Time Out

Ansan Greeners 0-2 Bucheon FC 1995

After finding themselves at the top of the table due to being the only side to win their opening two matches, Bucheon travelled to an Ansan side on Saturday that had achieved one win and one defeat so far. Both teams had played fellow Gyeonggi-do clubs in the previous round of matches, with Bucheon sealing a 2-1 win at home to FC Anyang in injury time while Ansan struggled in a 2-0 home defeat to Suwon FC. In terms of performance this match would prove to be quite equally split, with Bucheon dominating the first half and Ansan improving considerably in the second half. Ansan had slightly more possession (55%) and picked up two yellow cards compared to one for Bucheon, while Bucheon and more shots on target (seven to Ansan's six), and both teams had 11 shots in total.

It was Bucheon, however, that would be the only team to successfully convert their chances into goals. After only 55 seconds forward Lee Hyun-il lifted the ball over the onrushing Ansan keeper to convert Jefferson Baiano's through ball into a 1-0 lead. Not only was it Lee's first goal for Bucheon, it was also his first competitive goal in over a year due to him failing to score for Seongnam last season. Despite the blistering start Bucheon did not extend their lead in the first half and had a strong penalty claim denied by VAR in the 50th minute, which allowed Ansan to settle into the game. Ansan gained confidence, though they almost went behind after Guk Tae-jung's free-kick curled onto the post in the 69th minute, and again when Lee Tae-ho's low shot hit the post in the 88th minute. Just one minute later William Barbio would square the ball into the box to allow Lee Hyun-il's substitute Lee Jung-chan to tap-in his first goal since 2018. Bucheon have now scored three goals in three matches in the final five minutes. This would seal the victory for Bucheon and leave Ansan falling into seventh place.

Highlights of this match can viewed here.

Jeju United 2-3 Daejeon Hana Citizen

In pre-season recently relegated Jeju United were one of the teams hotly tipped to achieve promotion at the end of season, though a draw against Seoul E-Land and a defeat to Jeonnam Dragons demonstrated that there may be some adjustment required for competing in K League 2. The fixture list did not get any kinder as they had to host most peoples favourite's for the title Daejeon Hana Citizen on Saturday. Daejeon had started the season well by defeating an impressive Suwon FC side, but were looking to bounce back after a surprise draw at strugglers Chungnam Asan.

Jeju came out attacking early on and struck the crossbar from a header 10 minutes in. Just nine minutes later the Islanders would find themselves in the lead, courtesy of an overhead kick from six yards by Kong Min-hyu. Jeju continued to press and even struck the post again in the 30th minute, but would not double their lead until the 55th minute. Kong Min-hyu was the provider of the assist, threading the ball through the penalty area to allow Joo Min-kyu to gently side-foot the ball past the keeper. The lead was reduced to one goal in the 59th minute after Andre Luis scored a penalty for Daejeon, caused by a foul on Jo Jae-chul in the penalty area. Things really began to unravel for Jeju in the 70th minute when their captain Lee Chang-min was given a straight red card (after VAR consultation) for a reckless two-footed challenge in the Daejeon half. Daejeon took advantage of having an extra man, equalising in the 80th minute through Park Jin-sub's close range finish after the ball bobbled around the penalty area after a cross. They then sealed their comeback victory in the 88th minute, when Lee Gyu-ro crossed from the left-wing and Yoon Seung-won rose above the Jeju defence and buried the header into the back of the net. This result sees Daejeon sit only two points behind Bucheon in second place, while Jeju are only one point off the bottom.

Highlights of this match can be viewed here.

Previous Meetings

This is the first time that these two clubs will meet each other in their history. The club that is now known as Jeju United was in the inaugural seasons of the K League back in the 1980's and was known as the Yukong Elephants. They were originally based in Seoul, but in the mid-1990's moved to Bucheon and became known as Bucheon SK. After about a decade of success and winning several trophies, the owners announced without warning at the end of 2006 that the club would be moving to Jeju Island, leaving the fans of Bucheon without a club. Jeju United would go on to continue the success of Bucheon SK, finishing runners-up in the league on two occasions and competing in the AFC Champions League three times. The 2019 was their worst ever season and finishing bottom of K League 1 meant that they suffered their first ever relegation.

The fans in Bucheon decided to create their own club in 2007, which would eventually be taken over by the local government and become a citizen club. Bucheon started out in the old K3 League as a semi-professional team in time for the 2008 season. They became a fully professional club in 2012 and joined the K League Challenge (now known as the K League 2) in 2013, where they have remained ever since. Their best ever finishes were third in 2016 and fourth in 2019, and their best ever performance in the FA Cup was reaching the semi-finals in 2016. Against last year's newly relegated team to the K League 2 - Jeonnam Dragons - Bucheon had a mixed record: drawing once, losing twice, and winning once. Of course, that is not the best indicator of performance in this match, especially since these two teams have very different players compared to previous seasons.

Team News

After starting the first match of the season with a 3-4-3 and then switching to a 4-5-1 in the second match of the season, Bucheon manager Song Sun-ho reverted back to the 3-4-3 for the Ansan match. Despite this formational change, the players in the starting line-up actually stayed the same from the previous game against Anyang. Barbio was moved from attacking midfielder to right-wing, and Lee Hyun-il moved up the pitch from left midfield to left-wing, to allow Guk Tae-jung to move up and out of the left-back position. There was only one change on the bench, with eventual scorer Lee Jung-chan sitting there in place of Song Hong-min.

The manager seems to have settled on his favoured players and as there are no injuries or suspensions to report it is probable that he will not change his starting line-up for the Jeju match. He is still tinkering with his tactics, however, so it is unclear which formation he will prefer against Jeju. He will no doubt be pleased with the fact that positive performances have been spread across the pitch, as they have only conceded once and their five goals have been scored and assisted by eight different people.

The Adversary

Jeju will be without captain Lee Chang-min due to suspension. The 26 year-old midfielder had played in every minute of the season up until he received the red card on Saturday. This will be giving the Jeju coaching staff an unnecessary headache before such a vital match. It has been already clear that Jeju have not settled on their preferred line-up, due to the fact that they have rotated multiple players between matches and used three different starting formations (3-5-2 against Seoul E-Land, 4-3-3 against Jeonnam Dragons, and 3-4-3 against Daejeon Hana Citizen). Until their collapse in the second-half against Daejeon it was looking like their most impressive performance of the season. If they can find someone to fill in the gap left behind by Lee Chang-min then last Saturday's line-up will probably be a likely template for starting line-up to face Bucheon.

What To Watch

Will this live up to expectations as a true rivalry? The match will be played behind closed doors, so as there will be no fans then there is a good chance that it will not be as fiery as some people predict. Most of the talk of a rivalry has been built up by the Bucheon side or by neutrals, so there is a possibility that Jeju will not take it as seriously as everybody else. Also, Bucheon have signed a lot of new players that may not be as heavily invested in the club's folklore and background. However, those same Bucheon players may instead think that this is a good opportunity to endear themselves to the fans if they play with passion, and Jeju themselves may relish having a rivalry.

They are the only professional team on the island, and even the closest teams on the mainland are still a large distance away. There may also be added fire due to Jeju signing Bucheon's vice-captain Lim Dong-hyuk in the winter transfer window. Both teams also have something to prove, as Jeju have yet to win this season while Bucheon have had accusations of starting with a relatively kind schedule so far this season. As with all matches that have no precedent, it is impossible to tell what will happen beforehand.


FNR

Prediction

Before the season began most people would have assumed that Jeju and Bucheon would have swapped the positions that they currently occupy. Jeju have the better squad on paper, but Bucheon currently have the better chemistry, tactics, mental strength, and form. This is also a match with huge historical significance for both clubs, which could effect the performance of any player for better or for worse. Based on everything it is likely to be a close match, but at this stage of the season Bucheon have the slightest edge over Jeju.

Bucheon FC 1995 1-0 Jeju United


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