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Preview: Suwon Samsung Bluewings vs Gwangju FC



Suwon Samsung Bluewings will be eyeing returning to winning ways in the K League on Sunday, when they lock horns with bottom-placed Gwangju FC. Suwon Bluewings columnist Nived Zenith previews the clash.

Last Time Out

Busan IPark 0-0 Suwon Bluewings

Lee Lim-saeng’s men failed to make it back-to-back wins in the K League this season, following their stalemate away from home against newly-promoted Busan IPark last week. Their last outing worked out to be a disappointment, especially considering they were outplayed by their opponents.

The FA Cup holders’ only commendable attempt on goal came as early as the ninth minute, when skipper Yeom Ki-hun’s left-footed shot was tipped over by Kim Jeong-ho in goal for the hosts. Despite their positive start, the visitors failed to build on from there, as Busan enjoyed the better chances throughout the game.

Additionally, the Bluewings will be thanking their shot-stopper No Dong-geon for bailing them out with confident saves on a number of instances. So far, the club have endured a poor start to the season and are currently languishing in the bottom half at eighth place, just two points ahead of their next opponents.


Gwangju FC 1-1 Ulsan Hyundai

The Yellows got off the mark in the 2020 K League season with a commendable draw against Ulsan Hyundai during their last outing. Despite suffering three straight defeats since securing a return to the first division this year, Gwangju took a shock early lead against the visitors at Jeollanamdo.

Eom Won-Sang opened the scoring in the 12th minute, but an own goal from Lee Han-do helped the Horangi restore parity within just 10 minutes. Although they were put under severe pressure by the title-aspirants for the rest of the game, Park Jin-sub’s men battled hard and eventually came away with their first point of the season.


Previous Meetings

The last two meetings between the sides have come in the FA Cup and on both occasions, Suwon have triumphed over their opponents. The Bluewings secured a 3-0 win to kick-off their successful FA Cup campaign at the expense of Gwangju last year, while the meeting in 2017 ended 2-1 in favour of them as well.

Both teams have met 17 times in the top-flight over the years, with Suwon holding a comfortable advantage by securing 10 wins and losing out just twice. Surprisingly, both wins have come away from home for Gwangju in this fixture.

There have also been five draws played out between the sides during that time.

Team News

The Bluewings have stuck to a 3-5-2 formation in each of their last three outings, since the opening day defeat against Jeonbuk Motors. Lee Lim-saeng is expected to continue with his preferred shape against Gwangju, as he aims to give more time for both Sulejman Krpic and Adam Taggart to establish a connection in attack.

Terry Antonis, who came off the bench in the dying embers of the draw against Busan IPark, could be restored to the playing eleven on Saturday, while Doneil Henry is expected to marshal the troops at the back.

Park Jin-sub’s visitors dropped defensive stalwart Rustam Ashurmatov for the first time this season during their battling draw against Ulsan Hyundai last weekend. However, they are expected to have him back in the playing eleven ahead of the trip to the Big Bird, in an attempt to secure at least another point.

The visitors could also welcome back Brazilian forward Willyan and youngster Kim Jeong-hwan, should the duo regain complete match fitness after recovering from their injuries.

It remains to be seen whether summer addition Marcos Urena can force his way back into the starting eleven, after failing to add to his opening day start against Seongnam FC.

The Adversary

Gwangju secured their return to the Korean top-flight after an absence of two years, following their triumph in the second division last year. The Yellows were crowned champions K League 2 with a six-point lead over Busan IPark, who were also promoted after winning the playoffs.

However, their return to the top-flight was marked by an opening day defeat at home to Seongnam FC, while consecutive 1-0 losses to FC Seoul and Sangju Sangmu pipped them as early relegation candidates.

Despite their disappointing start, Gwangju earned some praise for their impressive 1-1 draw against Ulsan Hyundai last weekend and the result could work as the ideal stepping stone to kick-start their campaign.

The Yellows registered their first points of the season during the game against the Horangi and will be keen on building on that performance against an inconsistent Suwon team on Saturday.

The potential return of Brazilian forward Willyan could work as a shot in the arm for Gwangju, who have scored just a single goal in their four outings so far this term.

What To Watch

The Battle to break the duck



Both teams boast of the top goal-scorers in their respective divisions last year in the form of Adam Taggart and Felipe. While Taggart netted 18 goals in the top-flight and helped Suwon avoid relegation last term, Felipe was the major driving force behind Gwangju’s promotion with 19 goals.

However, both marksmen have struggled to make the desired impact in the ongoing K League season. Although it is still early days in the post-coronavirus campaign, the reliance of both teams on their strikers cannot be overlooked.

Suwon have netted just three goals so far this season and Gwangju scored their first goal just last week against Ulsan. The battle between the war will certainly point towards both Taggart and Felipe, who are in desperate need to break the duck by rediscovering their scoring boots.





Prediction

Both teams have failed to set the stage on fire with their performances so far this season. Goals seem hard to come by during their outings and it could be another similarly low-key affair at the Big Bird on Saturday.

Even though both teams are desperate for points, it remains to be seen whether they are brave and competent enough to go all the way and secure the maximum on offer.

Suwon Bluewings 1-1 Gwangju




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