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Preview: Busan IPark v Daegu FC

Lee Jeong-hyeop, Busan IPark
Two teams with contrasting starts to their 2020 K League 1 campaigns meet for the first time in four years this Wednesday. After a disappointing loss at the weekend, Busan IPark now host an in-form Daegu FC side that has finally clicked into gear, coming off an all time K League win on Sunday. Todd Wilde previews this Round 7 matchup.

via Soccerway

Last Time Out

Busan IPark had an unsuccessful trip to Gwangju, losing 3-1 after first taking the lead at the Guus Hiddink Stadium. Romulo put his side ahead just before half time, before the Yellows drew level through Willyan's expert curling finish from 20 yards out. Kim Jeong-hwan's through ball found Felipe as he confidently scored Gwangju's second, before substitute Kim Ju-gong made sure of the win in stoppage time.

Match Recap:

Match Highlights:
Daegu FC put on an attacking masterclass against a shambolic FC Seoul side, scoring six goals without reply in a dominant performance. In truth, Daegu should have won by more, as Cesinha, Kim Dae-won and Dejan all found the net for the home side in their best ever margin of victory in a K League game. 
Match Recap:

Match Highlights:

Previous Meetings

The last time these two sides met was in the K League 2 on 28th September 2016. A paltry crowd of 879 gathered at the Asiad World Cup Stadium in Busan to watch an unseasoned Cesinha and current Jeju United striker Eder clinch a 2-0 victory for the Sky Blues. Daegu FC ended up getting promoted this season after winning three of their four encounters with IPark, who themselves could only finish fifth, their lowest ever league position.
The two sides have met 32 times in their history. Daegu have tasted victory 14 times, Busan have won 11, and the points have been shared 7 times.

Team News

Both teams are missing young talent for this tie, with Busan's Kwon Hyeok-kyu as well as Daegu FC's Lee Jin-hyun and Ahn Chang-min called up to train with the Korea U19 set-up. As a result, both teams will not have to adhere to the U22 rule for this fixture only, giving both coaches freedom to play a starting eleven with no youth players.
Busan IPark may take advantage of this rule change to give a chance to veteran Kim Ho-jun or last season's number one Choi Pil-soo between the sticks. Whilst Kim Jeong-ho wasn't at fault for any of the goals conceded against Gwangju, the team has lost the calmness and composure in defence that became a feature late in their promotion campaign last season.
Yun Suk-young is an injury doubt at left back, and has been replaced by Park Joon-gang for the Royals' last two fixtures. Park was arguably a weak link against Gwangju, partly at fault for the second goal and often caught napping in possession deep in his own half. After coming on as a substitute for the final ten minutes, Lee Ji-min could start at this problem position, which would represent an incredible rise for a player that was representing Gimhae FC in the National League last season.

Cho Duk-jae will also need to decide whether to persist with a midfield three of Park Jong-woo, Lee Gyu-seong and Romulo, or take one player out to accomodate the attacking talents of Kim Jin-kyu, who has often been sacrificed to give the side a more defensive shape so far this season.

Daegu FC are unlikely to make major changes after their win up in Seoul, as caretaker manager Lee Byung-geun has finally found a winning formula for his team. Kim Jae-woo will be in contention to start at CB in favour of 20 year old Jo Jin-woo, whilst K League legend Dejan Damjanovic is likely to feature off the bench after scoring his first goal for the club on Sunday.

What To Watch

It has been an incredibly frustrating start to life in the K League 1 for Busan IPark's supporters. Though Busan have not been outclassed since their opening day defeat at Pohang, the team is struggling to close out games, reliquishing seven points from winning positions against Ulsan, Sangju and now Gwangju. The fine margins at the highest level of Korean football were highlighted against Gwangju, as Busan are were caught in possession on countless occassions in their own half. A lack of composure of the back was exposed by clinical Gwangju attacks in the second half, punishing IPark for switching off as the Yellows employed snappy quick passing in the corners.

Given that Busan are employing a different back four from last season, questions will begin to be asked of coach Cho Duk-jae. Is he incapable of organising a defence at the highest level? This is a higher quality squad that the Suwon FC team he took up in 2015, but IPark's board will not tolerate a similar result to 2016, where Cho's Suwon side was exciting to watch but relegated, primarily due to a leaky defence.

Of course, it's possible to survive conceding a large number of goals with an effective attack, but questions also persist surrounding the effectiveness of the front three. Lee Dong-jun's attacking threat was nuzzled yet again by an impressive Gwangju defence, and the starlet is easily left isolated by defending teams. One issue that has been highlighted is just how little passing seems to occur between the attacking three players, especially in comparison to the free flowing attacking interplay of 2019.

Lee Jeong-hyeop is struggling to release attackers beyond the defensive line as the lone striker, and whilst Kim Byong-oh has provided balance and worked hard for his team, he has shown absolutely no sign of an end product in the opposition box. This didn't improve after the introduction of Han Ji-ho, who was anonymous in the final twenty minutes. It may be that Cho needs to try something radically different to get more out of his players, such as a change of formation to employ wing-backs or two up front, making use of Vintecinco's talents in the air.
Lee Dong-jun
Lee Dong-jun has found himself heavily marked this season

Daegu FC were considered likely to struggle by some pundits in pre-season after the loss of enigmatic coach Andre, however Lee Byung-geun has steered his team past a rocky start and now the team appears to finally be hitting full flow, bringing joy to fans down in the Apple City. In truth, Daegu's style of play has not changed greatly from last season, but the team has shown they are less reliant on their talisman Cesinha, who at times last season seemed to be his side's only effective creative outlet.

This change was well demonstrated by their first goal against FC Seoul, a work of art, and one of the best team goals likely to be scored in Korean football this season. It took just 12 seconds and 10 touches from Hwang Soon-min winning the ball on the edge of Daegu's own box to Cesinha tapping into an empty net, as Daegu worked hard to pass into space at high speed, exploiting FC Seoul's lack of positional discipline.

Defensively, Daegu also look sound and tend to defend from the front. Perhaps the team's best trait is the one to press high up the pitch, one which spells trouble for Busan. IPark have been appallingly bad at retaining the ball in the face of pressure in their own half. Surely, the likes of Kim Dae-won and Tsubasa Nishi will be licking their lips when studying tapes of Busan, who moved the ball slowly and predictably, often losing the ball in their own third through wingbacks Kim Moon-hwan and Park Joon-gang, or passing back to the goalkeeper who could only clear to a yellow shirt at the weekend.

 Cesinha is still his team's star asset, but is one of many talents in the Daegu side

Who To Watch

Park Jong-woo
Park has possibly been Busan's best player this season. Instrumental in frustrating Ulsan and Sangju, the once box-to-box midfielder has embraced a new role as an enforcer in the centre towards the tail end of his career. His battle with Daegu's talisman Cesinha may be the key battle to look forward to on Wednesday evening, as he looks to extinguish attacks before they have a chance to build. However, his firefighting can also be a liability. He is already on three yellow cards, the joint most in the league, and he is evidently less effective sliding into tackles when his name is in the referee's book.

Park is best known for hassling his opponents in central midfield

Kim Dae-won

The Korean U23 international was sensational at the weekend, scoring twice but deserving of a hat trick after a performance that must have won the attention of National Team coach Paulo Bento. The 23 year old has fantastic footwork, comfortable with both feet and is technically adept at keeping the ball in tight spaces. His awareness is also excellent for a player of his age, and he has a great talent for positioning himself in the right place at the right time. Kim is well overdue a full international cap, but will first attempt to win a medal for his country at the next Olympic Games.

Kim Dae-won
Kim is a rising star and a future Korean international

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Daegu FC look every inch an attacking powerhouse in 2020, and should make easy work of an out of form IPark team that is struggling to establish defensive stability. I fear that this could be a drubbing for the home side.

Busan IPark 1-4 Daegu FC

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