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Preview: FC Seoul vs Busan IPark

Preview: FC Seoul vs Busan IPark K League 1 Round 19
Busan IPark travel to the capital looking to spoil Ki Sung-yueng’s homecoming in a match that’s vital to both team’s top six ambitions. FC Seoul slipped to eighth place following last weekend’s defeat to Ulsan and now sit just a point and a place above Busan in the Hana 1Q K League 1 table. A win for either club could lift them into the top half. Guest writer Simon Farnsworth, aka FC Seoul English on Twitter, previews Sunday's clash. 

Overview

via Soccerway


Last Time Out

Ulsan Hyundai 3-0 FC Seoul 

The K League’s first-ever Double-Dragon Derby took place on Sunday as Lee Chung-yong and Ki Sung-yueng faced off in Ulsan. Ki made his long-awaited second debut for Seoul, coming off the bench in the 69th minute, but it wasn’t enough to save his boyhood club from slipping to a 3-0 defeat.

Ulsan took a deserved lead in the 18th minute when Junior leapt highest at a corner, knocking the ball down - via a couple of deflections - to Lee, who swivelled smartly on the edge of the six-yard box to fire past birthday boy Yang Han-been. Ulsan doubled their lead in the 41st minute when a corner was flicked on to an unmarked Júnior Negrão at the back post. He poked home from inches out to score his 21st goal of a remarkable season.

Seoul toiled away and looked comfortable in possession in the second half, but they failed to create any clear-cut chances. Ulsan put the game to bed in added time when Seoul’s Han Seung-gyu over hit a corner, and Jung Hoon-sung beat Yoon Jong-gyu to the loose ball, deep in Ulsan territory. Jung stormed forward, with only one Seoul defender to beat and two Ulsan players for company. He chose to go alone, and his deflected shot looped into the back of the net from 15 yards.

Highlights



Suwon Samsung Bluewings 3-1 Busan IPark

Busan slipped to their fourth defeat in six K League matches as Suwon Samsung Bluewings fought back to pull themselves further away from the drop zone.

Busan took the lead in just the third minute when Rômulo and Lee Dong-jun picked the pocket of Han Suk-jong, and Lee broke at pace, bursting into Suwon’s half before threading a delicious ball to Lee Jeong-hyeop, who finished from 16 yards for his sixth goal of the season. That was as good as it got for Busan as Suwon took control, although they rarely tested Choi Pil-soo in the first half.

Suwon dialled up the pressure after the break with Adam Taggart squandering a golden opportunity to pull the Bluewings level in the 54th minute. The K League’s reigning top scorer could only head tamely at Choi, despite being unmarked from seven yards. Busan’s backline finally cracked in the 65th minute when the ball broke kindly to Kim Min-woo in the box, and the South Korean international calmly poked the ball past Choi, beating him at his near post. 

Choi then produced a disasterclass between the sticks: First, spilling a fierce strike from Yeom Ki-hun that went unpunished. Minutes later he failed to deal with a Kim Tae-hwan strike, palming the ball straight to Kim Min-woo who tapped in for his second goal of the match in the 74th minute. Vintecinco almost drew Busan level three minutes later, but Yang Hyung-mo smartly saved his acrobatic effort.

Suwon wrapped up a vital three points in the 85th minute when a long throw-in down the left-wing dragged several Busan defenders out of position. Krpić outfoxed the Busan backline to find Yeom Ki-hun on the edge of the box. The veteran fired a powerful shot at Choi, but the keeper couldn’t keep it out, despite getting a leg to it.

Highlights


Previous Meetings

Seoul have won five of the last ten league and playoff meetings between the two sides, with Busan winning two and the sides sharing the spoils on three occasions. In July, Busan claimed all three points when they met in round 11 thanks to goals from Kwon Hyeok-kyu and Lee Dong-jun. The 2-0 victory was their first league or playoff win over the capital club since March 2014, although they did dump Seoul out of the FA Cup in 2017. A year later, the clubs faced off in the 2018 promotion/relegation playoff. In the first leg, Seoul’s talisman Park Chu-young salvaged a 1-1 draw with a 94th-minute strike. Seoul found themselves 1-0 down at half time in the return fixture, but they scored three goals after the break to secure their K League status after a woeful season.

Team News

All eyes will again be on Ki Sung-yueng as he steps up his return to full fitness. A starting place may be beyond him at this stage, but expect the former national team captain to feature at some point. Osmar, who has been back training for the last couple of weeks, is in contention to make his first appearance in seven weeks, while Han Chan-hee and Yun Young-sun have also recently returned to training after injuries. Centre back Hwang Hyun-soo is a doubt after limping off in the defeat to Ulsan, meaning young defender Cha Oh-yeon may make his first start for the club.

Busan’s top goalscorer, Lee Jeong-hyeop, is a doubt after injuring his back in a collision with Min Sang-gi against Suwon. Lee was replaced at halftime by Vintecinco, who is still searching for his first K League goal of the season. South Korean international Kim Moon-hwan could return to bolster the starting XI vs Seoul. The right-back was available after suspension for the match against Suwon, but Cho Deok-je decided to stick with youngster Lee Sang-joon.



The Adversary


Ninth place Busan are only two points off the top six - despite only picking up four points in their last six games and going two months without an away league win.

Despite their recent form, it’s been a largely successful return to the top flight for The Royals. Lee Gyu-seong and Rômulo have impressed in the middle of the park, and starman Lee Dong-jun has been a constant, creative threat.

Lee has played more minutes (1751) in the league and FA Cup than any other Busan player this year, and the winger’s performances have caught the eye of a number of European clubs. Portuguese Primeira Liga side Vitória de Guimarães are said to be leading the chase for the 23-year-old.

At the other end of the pitch, veteran centre back Kang Min-soo has strengthened Busan’s backline, but they’ve failed to keep a clean sheet in their last six league outings.

Eulji Lewis  

What To Watch

Can Ki inspire Seoul’s youngsters to climb the table?


There’s a youth revolution happening in Seoul with caretaker boss Kim Ho-young putting his faith in youngsters such as Jung Han-min and Yoon Jong-gyu. Kim’s starting XI against Ulsan was the second youngest in the K League in round 18, and he’s fielded an average of 3.8 under 22s per game, that’s a league-high over the last five games.

However, as we approach the crunch end of the season, the return of Ki Seung-young’s guiding presence will be invaluable to Seoul’s fresh-faced talents - both on and off the field - as they battle to finish in the top six.

Ki brought a touch of class, calmness, and composure to Seoul’s midfield during his 20-minute cameo at the weekend. From momentum-building short passes to one absolute bullet of a cross-field pass, Ki proved he’s still got plenty to offer. And we shouldn’t be surprised: This isn’t an ageing star returning home in the twilight of his career. Ki is only 31 years old. There’s plenty of fuel left in the tank.

Fans are especially excited at the prospect of seeing Ki link up with Han Seung-gyu, who was Seoul’s driving force during their four-match unbeaten run.

Prediction

Seoul’s attack has looked toothless and, at times, devoid of ideas in their outings against Gwangju and Ulsan, while their backline was easily carved open by both the league leaders and a Willyan-inspired Gwangju. Busan, on the other hand, haven’t kept a clean sheet in six games and never really looked like scoring a second against Suwon. Expect a cagey affair.

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