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Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Jeonnam Dragons

The K League 2 returns for round six and this Sunday features two teams that have so far had contrasting league and cup experiences so far this season. Home side Bucheon FC 1995 are currently top of the league but last Saturday became the only KL2 side this season so far to be knocked out of the FA Cup. Visitors Jeonnam Dragons, meanwhile, progressed in the cup and are unbeaten in the league but currently sit in fifth place as they have not won since matchday two.

Last Time Out

Ulsan Citizen 1-0 Bucheon FC 1995

Bucheon had won four out of five league games coming into this fixture and were the highest ranked team entering into this round of the competition. Ulsan Citizen had earlier came through the first round by winning their first ever FA Cup match, though had mixed form in the league meaning that they were sitting in mid-table in the K4 League. Despite the odds stacked against them Ulsan emerged victorious with a goal in the 90th minute from substitute Kim Tae-hoon, the 23 year old Ulsan University graduate scoring a poacher's goal after a teammate's run drew out Bucheon goalkeeper Lee Young-chan. Ulsan progress to face last year's semi-finalists Sangju Sangmu in the next round, with the winner of that tie then going on to play either Pohang Steelers or K3 team Gyeongju Citizen in the following round.

Jeonnam Dragons 2-0 Chungju Citizen

Just like Bucheon, Jeonnam Dragons also faced a mid-table K4 League team in the league, though Jeonnam successfully dispatched them to remain unbeaten in all competitions this season. The opening goal was scored in the 17th minute, with 27 year old centre-back Go Tae-won scoring his first ever professional goal. The Honam University graduate first joined Jeonnam in January 2016 and spent the last two seasons on loan at Sangju Sangmu for his national service. Jeonnam then doubled their lead and secured the victory in the second-half with a goal in the 68th minute by defensive midfielder Hwang Ki-wook. It was the 24 year-old 's first ever goal for Jeonnam, after signing for them this winter from FC Seoul. Three-time FA Cup winners Jeonnam will host K League 2 rivals Gyeongnam in the next round, with the winner of that match earning the right to travel to K League 1 club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the following round.

Previous Meetings

Due to spending their entire histories in separate divisions, last year was the first time that the two sides ever met. Jeonnam have the lead in the fixture due to winning two matches in 2019, while the other two matches consisted of a draw and a Bucheon win. The 1-0 Bucheon win was the most recent of the matches, however, and played an integral part in Bucheon's late run to the play-offs. The match before that had the largest scoreline, consisting of a 3-0 win for Jeonnam. Both of these victories were for the away side. Bucheon have only earned one point at home in this fixture as in addition to the 3-0 loss they also drew 1-1 at Bucheon Stadium. Luckily for Bucheon, however, all of Jeonnam's goalscorers in this fixture last year have since left the club.

Team News

Bucheon have seven players sitting on a yellow card and no major injuries, so manager Song Sun-ho has a full strength squad to choose from. While he used a 4-5-1 formation on Saturday that has been used by the club before this season, in terms of personnel he made huge changes to the squad. Their were 11 changes to the starting line-up on Saturday compared to the previous league game, including multiple changes on the bench. Of course squad rotation is necessary and the team did include experienced players such as Suh Myeong-won and Kwak Hae-sung, but the lack of team chemistry contributed significantly to their cup exit. It will be interesting to see if the manager completely goes back to his preferred starting line-up, or if there was anyone that caught his eye on Saturday despite the defeat.

The Adversary

Jeonnam's 27 year-old Brazilian forward Rodolfo has yet to make his debut for the club due to the knee injury he picked up in the winter after signing. If he is declared fit to play, then it is likely that he will only start on the bench. Apart from him Jeonnam have a full strength team to choose from, though defensive midfielder Hwang Ki-wook, who has played in every game this season, has already picked up four yellow cards in the league so is one away from suspension. As the next two league games after Bucheon are against fellow promotion rivals Daejeon Hana Citizen and Suwon FC, the manager may decide to limit his playing time either against Bucheon or in a later match. Jeonnam have mostly alternated between a 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formation this season though it seems as though they have settled on the 4-3-3, meaning that there is a good chance that they play this formation against Bucheon.


Who To Watch

Bucheon's Brazilian striker Jefferson Baiano has started every league match this season and has proven himself to be an integral member of the team. He has provided two assists this season, the highest in the squad, and he has made the sixth most touches in the penalty area out of all players in K League 2. However, he has been substituted off in four of the five league matches this year and he has yet to score for the club, while his compatriot William Barbio scored his first goal on matchday one. Baiano may not have cause to worry just yet, as last season Bucheon's Ecuadorian striker Marlon de Jesus went three months without scoring but then went on to reach double digits by the end of the season. Due to Covid-19, though, this season has already been reduced so Baiano does not have the luxury of being able to wait so long. Jeonnam have only conceded twice this season and have the best defensive record in the top two divisions of South Korean football, so it may be difficult for him to get off the mark this Sunday.



FNR


Prediction

Both teams are in good form, with Jeonnam continuously able to grind out results and Bucheon playing well above expectations to remain top of the league. Most indicators point to a close and low scoring game, but with Bucheon at full strength they should emerge victorious.

Bucheon FC 1995 1-0 Jeonnam Dragons




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