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Preview: Suwon Samsung Bluewings vs Gangwon FC



Suwon Samsung Bluewings are in desperate need for a win, as they prepare to host high-flying Gangwon FC in the K League 1 on Saturday. Bluewings columnist Nived Zenith previews the match.

Last Time Out

Suwon Bluewings 0-1 Gwangju FC

The Bluewings suffered a demoralizing defeat in their latest outing against early relegation-battlers Gwangju FC at the Big Bird last weekend. Lee Lim-saeng's men threatened as early as the seventh minute, when Kim Min-woo's looping header awkwardly hit the post and stayed out. The visitors also enjoyed an opening in the first half from a set-piece, but Rustam Ashurmatov blasted his header wide.

Despite playing at home, Suwon lacked the precision and sharpness to make the best use of the ball, as the game entered the second half. Terry Antonis and Sulejman Krpic were introduced from the bench, and while the midfielder struck the post, the latter found the back of the net only to be ruled offside.

Gwangju delivered the killer-blow in second half stoppage time, when Brazilian marksman Felipe netted the decisive goal with a calm header to secure maximum points for his team.


Incheon United 1-2 Gangwon FC

Kim Byung-soo's men continued their impressive start to the season, following the comeback win over Incheon United at Sungui Arena Park last weekend. The visitors added to the impressive win over defending champions Jeonbuk Motors FC, courtesy of goals from Chae Gwang-hoon and Ko Moo-yeol.

Incheon took the lead against the run of play in the 22nd minute, when Kim Ho-nam found the back of the net through a low cross that stemmed after a driving run into the box by Jung Dong-yoon. Gangwon's response was almost instant and in spectacular fashion, as Chae fired a sensational strike from outside the box to find the top-right corner.

The Mariners struggled to assert their control over the proceedings, as Gangwon continued to enjoy and create the best opportunities since then. The visitors were duly rewarded in the 85th minute, when the referee awarded a penalty after Mun Ji-hwan pulled back Ko.

The forward shouldered the responsibility of scoring the penalty he won and comfortably netted the winning goal to complete the comeback.


Previous Meetings

Suwon Bluewings remain unbeaten in their last three meetings with Gangwon in the K League. They ran out 3-1 winners in the last outing away from home, while also sharing the points in a 1-1 draw and registering a 2-0 win during the meetings last year.

Gangwon's solitary win in the last six meetings between the sides came back in 2018, when they ran out 1-0 winners at home. Unsurprisingly, Suwon have enjoyed the upper hand in these fixtures over the years, after securing 13 wins and suffering just four defeats from 21 games.

The Bluewings have also fired in 41 goals in this fixture, with four draws shared between the sides in the past.

Team News

Lee Lim-saeng has predominantly stuck with a 3-5-2 formation so far this season, but some of his decisions have irked the Big Bird faithful. The Bluewings' gaffer left out both Sulejman Krpic and Terry Antonis from the playing eleven during the defeat against Gwangju last weekend, despite introducing both in the second half in a desperate attempt to snatch a win.

Suwon are expected to revert back to a stronger line-up featuring Antonis in midfield, while Krpic could also return to partner the misfiring Adam Taggart. Doneil Henry and Lee Jong-sung have started in all the games so far, with Min Sang-gi replacing Park Dae-won alongside them at the back recently.

In comparison, Gangwon have remained more consistent with their shape and personnel so far this season, owing to the brilliance of their 4-3-3 formation. Kim Byung-soo has retained his core group of starters in almost all games, with all of Kim Young-bin, Lim Chai-min, Shin Kwang-hoon and Han Kook-young featuring from the start in all games till now.

Hence, the visitors are not expected to shuffle their pack too much, especially considering their brilliant run of form in recent weeks.

The Adversary

Gangwon have been turning heads in the K League over the last couple of weeks, following their impressive performances under Kim Byung-soo. Since their defeat to Sangju Sangmu last month, the club have won two of their last three games.

The 1-0 win over defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors remains the biggest coup so far, while last week's win over Incheon United means they have now registered back-to-back wins for the first time this term.

Byung-soo ball has consistently earned the plaudits this season, courtesy of the sheer delight associated with watching the possession-based attacking football on offer during their outings.

The win over Incheon last week briefly put the team on top of the table, but Jeonbuk and their fellow title-aspirants Ulsan Hyundai retained first and second position respectively, following their victories.

Undoubtedly, Gangwon will be buoyed by their recent performances and will head into the game against Suwon Bluewings as firm favorites to win, despite their poor record in this fixture over the years.

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What To Watch

The Battle within the War - Doneil Henry vs Ko Moo-yeol

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When the battle lines are redrawn at the Big Bird on Saturday, both Doneil Henry and Ko Moo-yeol will have to play an integral role to decide favorable outcomes for their teams.

Ko, who made the switch to Gangwon from Jeonbuk Motors at the end of last season, has scored in each of the last three games for his club, including the decisive strike against his former team.

While performances have been dire and tepid from Suwon so far this term, Henry has quickly emerged as one of the first names on the team sheet during his first season at the club.

Even though both teams have quality on paper in different areas of the pitch, the outcome of the battle between Henry and Ko could prove to be decisive, considering the influence both players have on their teams.


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Prediction

Suwon Bluewings 0-1 Gangwon FC

The defeat against Gwangju proved why Lee Lim-saeng is running out of time to save his job. Suwon have failed to dominate games this season and with Adam Taggart struggling for form, little hope remains ahead of their meeting with Gangwon.


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