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Preview: Busan IPark vs. Suwon Samsung Bluewings


After weathering a challenging start to life in the K League 1, Busan IPark begin a run of more winnable fixtures against Suwon Samsung Bluewings, the reigning FA Cup champions. Will the Royals get their first win of 2020, or can the Bluewings claim back to back victories to kickstart their season? Todd Wilde previews this Round 4 matchup.


via Soccerway

Last Time Out

Busan IPark picked up their first point of the season as they drew 1-1 away at heavily fancied Ulsan Hyundai. It was a much improved performance for the Royals, who went ahead through Lee Jeong-hyeop powerful left footed strike from ten yeards. Ulsan equalised late on through Júnior Negrão's controversially awarded penalty, after Kim Tae-hwan's cross struck the shoulder of Kang Min-soo in the 18 yard box.
  
Match Recap & Analysis: Horangi held by buoyant Busan

Match Highlights:



Suwon Samsung Bluewings snapped a four match losing streak as they narrowly saw off Incheon United at the Blue Bird. In a match of few clear cut chances, Yeom Ki-hun scored the only goal from the penalty spot, after Kim Min-woo was pulled down by Incheon defender Moon Ji-hwan in the box.

Match Recap & Analysis: Suwon Samsung Bluewings 1-0 Incheon United

Match Highlights:



Previous Meetings

Busan upset the odds the last time these sides met on an emotional night at the Gudeok Stadium. In IPark's first home match since the sudden death of manager Cho Jin-ho two weeks earlier, then second division IPark knocked out the favourites in an FA Cup semi final on 25th October 2017. Busan dramatically won a penalty shootout 4-2, after the scores were tied 1-1 after 120 minutes.

The two sides have met 79 times, with Suwon by far the most successful team in head-to-head encounters. The Bluewings have won 41 times, whilst Busan have 17 victories to their name. 21 games ended in a draw.

Team News

Busan manager Cho Duk-jae will no doubt have had many sleepless nights this week, as the former Suwon FC coach ponders the intense competition for places throughout the line up. Whilst strength of depth is undoubtedly a nice problem to have especially for a newly promoted side, Cho still needs to establish who is his best goalkeeper, left back, centre back pairing and central midfield trio.


After such an effective team performance last weekend, it is possible that Cho will give rookie stopper Kim Jung-ho a run in the team as starter, as this would allow the team to satisfy the U22 rule and play 10 overaged players outfield - though Cho did stress after their draw against Ulsan that all three of the squad's goalkeepers are still in competition to win a starting place.


The largest dilemna for Cho comes in central midfield, as Busan dominated the central areas for much of the game against Ulsan with two defensive midfielders, Park Jong-woo and Lee Gyu-seong. Since Suwon offer less of an attacking threat in comparison to Busan's previous opponents, box-to-box midfielder Kim Jin-kyu could start in favour of one of Park or Lee, forming a dynamic creative duo alongside Romulo. Yun Suk-young could also return to the side at left back as Cho looks to take advantage of his attacking intuition.




Suwon coach Lee Lim-saeng has come under criticism amongst a large section of fans for some unconventional team selections this season, which has seen natural full backs Park Dae-won and Lee Jong-sung both selected at centre back, whilst Kim Min-woo and Yeon Ki-hun have occupied more central creative roles within the side despite being most effective attacking from the wing.

Lee Jong-sung should retain his place alongside Min Sang-gi and Canadian international Doneil Henry as part of a back three, whilst Kim Min-woo is likely to start on the left wing after Korean international Hong Chul was unavailable for selection last weekend against Incheon.

Socceroo Terry Antonis is available for selection after serving a two match ban for his red card offence against Jeonbuk and should go straight back into the starting eleven. With Park Sang-hyuk likely to continue in midfield to satisfy the U-22 rule, there may be no place in the side for last weekend's goalscorer, 37 year old Yeom Ki-hun.


What To Watch

Against Ulsan and Jeonbuk, Busan played a style of football more defensive than fans have been used to, as IPark abandoned the gung-ho attacking style that made the team the highest scorers in Korea last season. Winger Lee Byong-oh and offensive midfielder Romulo have both often defended in deep positions, as the Royals remained patient and happy to sit deep out of possession. Busan successfully frustrated their opponents, closing down passing options within the final third, and when Busan did win the ball they utilised an economical, methodical approach to build up play as they slowed down the pace of the game.
 
Lee Dong-jun, Lee Dong Jun, Busan IPark
Lee Dong-jun showcases his close control in the 2019 Playoffs vs. Anyang

Having survived the opening run of fixtures from hell, Busan IPark now face a run of easier opponents. Whilst the Royals have needed to be economical with the ball, from here on in they are much more likely to attack with speed and venom like in 2019. Expect Romulo to dictate the range of passing in midfield, ably assisted by Kim Jin-kyu, who is comfortable linking up play with attackers on the edge of the box. Moreover, last season's K League 2 MVP Lee Dong-jun now has the opportunity to show the talent that has made scouts sit up and take notice, the U-23 international just as likely to launch a fearsome drive at pace on a counter attack as he is to take on defenders in crowded wide areas.

Whilst Suwon have shown in recent appearances that they are strong in the air and can weather an offensive storm against Jeonbuk, they also showed that they are capable of breaking apart as seen in their late capitulation against Ulsan. Suwon must start well and gain control of the midfield early if they are to gain a foothold in the game, since Busan have the talent to frustrate and dictate the tempo of play if the Bluewings elect to sit back.


Adam Taggart, Suwon Bluewings, Suwon Samsung Bluewings
 Adam Taggart prepares to shoot against Jeonbuk

If Suwon can work the ball into wide areas, they should have joy feeding crosses into Adam Taggart, whose predatory instincts in the box match up well against a nervous Busan defence that has looked weak defending crosses. IPark have also looked jumpy attempting to clear danger from within their own 18 yard box, so Suwon should be ready to capitalise on any poor clearances and have a plan for attacking with the second ball.


Who To Watch


Lee Jeong-hyeop

Busan IPark, Lee Jeong-hyeop
 
Lee Jeong-hyeop was back to his very best last Saturday, as he put in a man of the match performance on his first start of the season, impressing in front of National Team coach Paulo Bento.  Lee led the line with conviction and power, and whilst the Korean international is not known as a goalscorer, he has an impressive track record at the start of a season - Lee grabbed 11 goals in his first 14 appearances of 2019.

Lee was arguably IPark's most instrumental player last season, operating as a mobile target man that is comfortable in the air but skillful playing the ball on the deck. Lee's greatest strength is his versatility - he often drops deep to help link methodical build up play; he has excellent positional awareness; he's excellent at spearheading an attacking press when the side is out of possession, and he is extremely adept at releasing wide players into space on a counter-attack.

Terry Antonis

Terry Antonis, Suwon Bluewings, Suwon Samsung Bluewings


Capped three times by Australia, Antonis will return to the side on Saturday with a point to prove after his first career sending off against Jeonbuk on the opening day of the season. Suwon have looked tepid going forward in their opening three games, severely lacking creativity and the ability to cut teams apart through the middle of the park. Lee Lim-saeng will look towards the former Melbourne Victory playmaker to help make things tick in the middle, influential in spreading the play from a central position. Busan should also be weary of the Socceroo's shooting ability from outside the box, an area IPark have struggled to defend in recent seasons.

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Prediction

After a rough start to the season, Busan should finally develop enough confidence to showcase the talent that got them promoted to this level. I predict that Busan will finally get the victory their recent performances have deserved, and fear that this may ratchet up the pressure on Bluewings gaffer Lee Lim-saeng.

Busan IPark 3-1 Suwon Samsung Bluewings

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