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Preview: Busan IPark vs Gangwon FC


Eleven days after their last meeting, Busan IPark and Gangwon FC meet again at Gudeok Stadium on Sunday afternoon, this time as part of the ‘Final B’ bottom six. Can Gangwon produce another away win to distance themselves from relegation danger, or will Busan find hidden reserves as they attempt to preserve their K League 1 status? Tomas Marcantonio previews. 


Last Time Out

Jeonbuk Hyundai 2-0 Busan IPark

Busan IPark were beaten 2-0 by title-chasing Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors last Sunday afternoon. First half goals from Cho Gue-sung and Gustavo sealed the win for the hosts as Busan, who were without Lee Jeong-hyup and Lee Dong-jun, once again looked toothless in the final third. The defeat extended Busan’s winless run to five games, and leaves them only three points clear of the relegation spot.



Gangwon FC 1-2 Suwon Bluewings

Gangwon FC also slumped to defeat last weekend, falling victim to a second-half comeback from Suwon Samsung Bluewings. Kim Ji-hyun had given Gangwon the lead in the 53rd minute, but late goals from Ko Seung-beom and Han Suk-jong turned the game on its head. A win for Gangwon would have secured their place in the Final A group, but defeat leaves them in the bottom six, currently six points clear of bottom side Incheon United.



Previous Meetings

This will be the third meeting between Busan and Gangwon this year. Home advantage has counted for nothing so far this season, with the away teams coming out on top in both previous meetings. 

Lee Young-jae was the hero when these sides met on 16th September.
Busan romped to a 4-2 victory at Gangneung Stadium back in July, in a performance inspired by Korea U23 talents Kim Jin-kyu and Lee Dong-jun. Gangwon got their revenge less than two weeks ago, however, when Lee Young-jae’s stunning long-range curler decided the game in Gangwon’s favour as the visitors prevailed 2-1. 

Team News

Busan IPark welcome winger Lee Dong-jun back into the fold after the 23 year-old missed last weekend’s defeat due to suspension. Lee will line up on the right of Busan’s front three, with Kim Byong-oh likely to replace Kim Seung-joon on the left. Under-22 player Lee Sang-jun, who was lively on the right wing in Lee Dong-jun’s absence, could revert to left back in place of Park Joon-kang. 

Busan have injury doubts over captain Kang Min-soo and striker Lee Jeong-hyup, who both missed the last two games. Kim Dong-woo and Dostonbek Tursunov will continue at centre back if Kang misses out again, while Gustavo Vintecinco and Jung Sung-min will compete for the striker spot if the game comes too soon for Lee. 

There is also a concern over defensive midfielder Park Jong-woo, who came off at half time in the Jeonbuk game with a thigh injury. Whether Park is deemed fit or not, Lee Gyu-sung is likely to return to the midfield alongside Rômulo after being left on the bench last time out. 



The Adversary

Gangwon will be without Kim Young-bin after the left-sided centre back received his fifth booking of the season in last weekend’s defeat to Suwon Bluewings. The 29 year-old has been an ever-present at the heart Kim Byung-soo’s defence alongside Lim Chai-min this year, and he could be replaced by Lee Ho-in, who deputised for Lim in the defeat to Incheon earlier this month. 

Gangwon have lined up with a back four in the past three games, but Kim’s absence could prompt a return to a 3-4-3 formation, with Sin Se-gye dropping into the back three. Kim Byung-soo has rotated his front players in recent games, but expect Han Kook-young to anchor the midfield, Cho Jae-wan to attack down the left, and Kim Ji-hyun and Go Moo-yol to spearhead the attack.

Who To Watch

Busan IPark - Rômulo 


The mercurial Brazilian playmaker is in the final year of his contract at Busan, and he could be entering his final five games with the club after a four-year stay. Busan have been dire in the final third over the past two months, scoring only eight goals in twelve matches, and the absence of Lee Jeong-hyup makes their need for inspiration all the greater. 

Rômulo has been one of Busan’s few shining lights in recent games, the playmaker’s defence-splitting through balls being Busan’s prime source of chances. The 24 year-old also has a history of creating goals out of nothing, his longe-range efforts a vital source of goals when Busan have looked bereft of ideas. In tough times – and these certainly are – a moment of Rômulo magic could be the difference between Busan staying up and going down. 


Gangwon FC - Cho Jae-wan 


The last time Gangwon visited Busan’s Gudeok Stadium, left-winger Cho Jae-wan was a thorn in Busan’s side all evening. The 25 year-old has an eye for goal and he frequently found himself in dangerous areas as Gangwon played their way through the Busan defence. Cho nabbed Gangwon’s opening goal in that game – his fifth of the season – and Busan right back Kim Moon-hwan will need to be at his very best on Sunday to keep the elusive winger at arm’s length.


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Prediction

Busan currently look like a shell of the free-flowing team that earned promotion last season, and Gangwon’s win at Gudeok Stadium less than two weeks ago will give the visitors confidence in another away win. Unless Busan can show more cohesion in the final third, Gangwon should have too much for them. 

Predicted Score: 
Busan IPark 1-2 Gangwon FC


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