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Preview: Busan IPark vs Gangwon FC


With two games to go until the K League 1 split, Busan IPark (10th) and Gangwon FC (9th) still have everything to play for when they meet at Gudeok Stadium on Wednesday evening. A win for either side could take them into the top six, while a loss could drag them to within three points of the relegation spot. Tomas Marcantonio previews.

Last Time Out

Busan IPark 0-0 Incheon United

Busan were held to a goalless draw at Gudeok Stadium on Sunday evening. Lee Dong-jun was lively for Busan but failed to put away two good second half chances, while Incheon’s Jung Dong-yun and Busan’s Kim Jeong-hyun were both sent off in the final twenty minutes.



Gangwon FC 0-3 Pohang Steelers

Gangwon were thrashed by fourth-placed Pohang on Sunday. Goals from Manuel Palacios, Song Min-kyu, and Aleksandar Palocevic did the damage for the visitors, condemning Gangwon to their second defeat on the bounce.



Previous Meetings

These sides last met in early July in a thrilling 4-2 away win for Busan. The Royals were inspired by a stunning substitute performance from Kim Jin-kyu, who came off the bench to score one and assist two more for Lee Dong-jun.

The last time these teams met at Gudeok Stadium was back in October 2016 in the K League 2. A last minute goal from Busan’s Hong Dong-hyun kept the three points in Busan that day as the Royals ran out 2-1 winners.

Team News

Busan will be without Kim Jeong-hyun after the midfielder was sent off in Sunday’s draw with Incheon. He is likely to be replaced by Park Jong-woo, who returns after serving a suspension for accumulated yellow cards.

Lee Jeong-hyup could return to the Busan team to link up with Lee Dong-jun
Top scorer Lee Jeong-hyup came off the bench at the weekend after missing one game with a knock, and the striker could play from the start in place of Kim Hyun. Club captain Kang Min-soo could also return in central defence in place of Kim Dong-woo or Dostonbek Tursunov.

The Adversary

Gangwon’s impressive start to the season now seems a distant memory. For all the attacking talent in their ranks and the plaudits for Kim Byung-soo’s eye-catching brand of football, Gangwon now find themselves with only one win from the past ten matches.

With 21 points, they are – like Busan – only six points clear of Incheon United in twelfth, and a defeat on Wednesday night will spark genuine concerns about a possible return to the second tier.

Who To Watch

Kim Ji-hyun


Gangwon’s 24 year-old striker has been a shining light in a disappointing period for the club. Kim has three goals in his past four games, including a match-winning brace against Jeonbuk earlier this month. With Ko Mu-yeol and Kim Seung-dae going through dry spells in front of goal, expect Kim Ji-hyun to be the focal point in Gangwon’s attack and keep the Busan defence busy.

Lee Dong-jun


After winning last season’s K League 2 MVP award, Lee’s first season in the top tier has been slightly underwhelming. The speedy winger has still been Busan’s most dangerous player this season, however, and his return of three goals and four assists is respectable considering Cho Deok-jae’s conservative and often one-dimensional tactics.

Against Incheon at the weekend Lee was excellent, although he was guilty of missing two gilt-edged chances as Busan chased the win. If the Royals are to keep clear of the relegation zone, they will need their prize asset to have his shooting boots on.

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Prediction

Neither team is in sparkling form, and both will be desperate to avoid defeat with Incheon showing signs of improvement below. Busan’s star players looked close to their best against Incheon, however, and I think the likes of Romulo and Lee Dong-jun could provide the spark needed for Busan to edge this one.

Predicted Score:
Busan IPark 2-1 Gangwon FC



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