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Preview: Gangwon FC v Busan IPark

Gangwon FC
After an excellent start to the season, Gangwon FC will be looking to arrest an alarming slide in form against Busan IPark, a team which has had a stuttering start to life in the K League 1. Can Gangwon get back to winning ways, or will IPark pick up a second consecutive away win in Gangneung? Todd Wilde previews the match.

Last Time Out

In the FA Cup Third Round, Gangwon FC survived a enormous scare as they defeated K3 League side Gangneung FC 2-1 in extra time. The two sides that share a stadium close to the Olympic Park were closely matched throughout, but there was late agony for the lower division side, who were three minutes away from victory and one minute away from a penalty shootout. 
Kang Dong-seop put Gangneung ahead after nine minutes, before Lee Young-jae's 89th minute equaliser forced extra time. Gangwon pushed forward for a winner, which came through the last kick of the match. Jeong Ji-yong's low cross met a sliding Seo Min-woo at the near post, whose shot crept past the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.
In their last league match, Gangwon were defeated 2-1 by Daegu FC, their third straight league defeat.

Match Highlights:

Busan IPark avoided a potential banana skin as they thrashed last season's semi finalists Hwaseong FC 4-0 at the Gudeok Stadium. Cho Duk-jae made 11 changes as many second string squad players impressed in a relentless attacking performance. Cho experimented with a 5-2-3 formation, utilising Lee Ji-min and Lee Sang-jun as wing backs, and both were extremely impressive as they looked to stretch the defence with pace and strong driven crosses. 

All three goals before half time came from crosses, as Gustavo Vintecinco and Hwang Jun-ho both headed home before Olivier Bonnes' unfortunate own goal. Kim Jin-kyu, impressive in a roaming attacking midfield role, added a fourth late on from 20 yards out.
In their last league match, Busan came from behind to salvage a 1-1 draw against Seongnam FC.

Match Highlights:

Previous Meetings

This will be the first meeting between the two sides since November 2016, a game which Gangwon won 1-0. Gangwon FC and Busan IPark have met in just 16 competitive fixtures. Gangwon have only been victorious twice, with Busan taking all three points eight times and the spoils shared six times.

Team News

Kim Byung-soo will keep faith with the majority of the squad that started their last league match, as the provincial side's second string struggled to impress in midweek. Cho Ji-hun is suspended after picking up a red card against Daegu, and could be replaced by Lee Young-jae.

Ko Moo-yeol should start after an effective second half substitute performance against Daegu FC - the former Jeonbuk striker is Gangwon's top scorer with five goals in six appearances, and has a goal every 82 minutes this season.

Lee Bum-soo and Lee Gwang-yeon remain locked in a battle for the number one shirt. Lee knows this Busan team well, putting in a man of the match display for Gyeongnam in last season's Promotion/Relegation Play-off, a performance which was not enough to keep his former team in the K League 1.


Cho Duk-jae should revert back to the starting eleven that drew 1-1 against Seongnam, after making 11 changes for Busan's 4-0 win over Hwaseong. Kim Jin-kyu is the most likely player to feature twice in four days, after a dominant performance in midfield on Wednesday evening that would have surely made manager Cho Duk-jae sit up and take notice of his abilities. However, Kwon Hyeok-kyu will likely start as the team's U20 player, leaving Kim to start on the bench.

New signing Kim Seung-joon could feature as a substitute after signing from Gyeongnam on Tuesday, as part of a swap deal that saw club legend Han Ji-ho leave in the other direction. Meanwhile, former Seongnam midfielder Kim Jeong-hyun and Brazilian winger Jonaton Reis look likely to leave the club after neither featured in the FA Cup victory on Wednesday.

Park Jong-woo, Kim Dong-woo and Yun Suk-young are all unavailable due to injury, therefore Park Jun-gang and Lee Ji-min will compete to start at left back.

What To Watch

IPark manager Cho Duk-jae has undoubtedly done a fantastic job to get Busan out of the second division and playing competitively in the K League 1, however the side's attacking play has at times been industrious and uninspiring. Cho's one dimensional tactics against Seongnam was difficult for supporters to watch, as a succession of predictable aerial crosses were batted away by the Magpies, and Busan were exposed to lack a Plan B to break down opposition defences camped in their own half.

Similar sentiments exist around Kim Byung-soo, who has achieved widespread acclaim for playing an expansive brand of attacking football, coined as 'Byung-soo ball' by elements of the media. Gangwon are a beautiful, majestic team to watch going forward, particularly when they counter attack at pace or are afforded space to build an attack in the opposition half. Look out for Gangwon's man in possession to always have several passing options at any one time, usually including two short options and one long option in the opposition box.

Gangwon coach Kim Byung-soo has won plaudits this season

Less widely reported is that Kim's style of play has led his team to be wide open at the back, making the side look disorganised both in shape and numbers defensively. Gangwon have conceded 14 goals, two more than IPark and the second worst defensive record in the league. The side have particularly struggled to contain combination play at pace this season. This could give Lee Dong-jun the chance to finally get off the mark, especially if he can establish a connection with Busan's dynamic target man Lee Jeong-hyeop when they break into space on counter attacks.

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With both sides struggling in recent games, attack could well be the best form of defence for both sides. Hopefully this will be an entertaining match for the neutral, as this writer predicts plenty of goals!

Gangwon FC 2-2 Busan IPark

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