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Preview: Incheon United vs Ulsan Hyundai

The great escape has turned from a long shot dream to reality in recent weeks for Incheon United as they are now level with eleventh place Suwon Bluewings. However their opponents on Sunday Ulsan Hyundai afternoon will be looking to derail them in favor of their title bid. This is a big game as both ends of the K League 1 table.

 

Last Time Out

Incheon United 1-0 FC Seoul


Incheon United narrowly edged out local rivals FC Seoul on Wednesday evening in the Gyeongin Derby. The first half was pretty even with both sides creates small openings but lacked to cutting edge on the evening to take the lead.

In the second half Incheon started to gain more control of the game. But it was Seoul who seemed to take the lead, only for the fluke own-goal to the disallowed via VAR. A lucky escape for Incheon, and Seoul suffered more bad luck as big summer signing Ki Sung-yeung limped off after played only fifteen minutes. Incheon pressured Seoul into a mistake in the middle of the field, this lead to a counter attacked where Elias Aguilar and Song Si-woo combined to give Incheon an invaluable lead. Incheon then went into time killing mode for the next twenty minutes, slowing the game down and limiting Seoul to a handful of half-chances. Incheon picked up the full three points and moved level with Suwon in eleventh.

Jeonbuk Hyundai 2-1 Ulsan Hyundai


Ulsan Hyundai suffered a huge blow to their title bid as they lost to closest challenges Jeonbuk Hyundai on Tuesday evening. Even before the game kicked off Ulsan manager was receiving criticism for his starting lineup leaving top goalscorer Junior on the bench. This criticism was doubled when Jeonbuk took the lead after just two minutes as a Modou Barrow cross turned shot found its way into the bottom corner. Jeonbuk continued to control the game leading to Junior being brought on before the half hour mark.

The second half was more even, until Jeonbuk doubled their lead. Former Incheon midfielder Han Kyo-won linked up with Barrow for his tenth goal of the season. Ulsan tried in vain to mount a comeback but as the minutes ticked away hope faded. However there was time for Junior to slot home a ninety-sixth minute penalty, but it was too little too late in the end.

 

Previous Meetings 

Incheon United where hammered by Ulsan earlier this season losing 4-1, with Junior bagging a hat-trick. Last season it was a little more even with a win a piece plus a 3-3 draw.

Incheon last beat Ulsan at home back in September 2018. They won 3-2 that day with a Kim Bo-sub brace the difference. Ulsan last beat Incheon at the Sungui Arena in April of last year, winning 3-0 with the goals coming from Junior and a Kim In-sung double.

Over the years Incheon and Ulsan have played each other forty-nine times with the victories edged by the league leaders Ulsan winning twenty-four to Incheon's thirteen. The other twelve games have ended in draws.

Team News

Incheon will be without suspended Jung Dong-yun again who was sent off against Busan. Ulsan Hyundai on the other hand will be without defender Davy Bulthuis who picked up his fifth booking of the season on Tuesday.

Incheon manager Jo Sung-hwan has worked some magic since joining Incheon earlier in the Summer and it seems once again unlikely he'll change tactics this coming Sunday. However he may start Song Si-woo following his contribution against FC Seoul.

Incheon are missing a few key players still. Kim Ho-nam hasn't been involved since the start of August and it seems questionable if he'll play again this season. Brazilian winger Gustavo was on the bench this past Wednesday, and could feature against Ulsan. Finally Australian midfielder Rashid Mahazi has only manged five appearances this season, it's unclear if he'll be back soon.

 

Adversary

Ulsan Hyundai have once again been up in the title picture this season, leading the league for most of the season. Last season they narrowly lost out on the title and will be looking to go one better this year. They could do the treble as they are still in the Korean FA Cup and Asian Champions League.

Look out for leagues top scorer Junior, the Brazilian has twenty-three goals already this season, and seem to score for fun when playing against Incheon. Also Korean number one keeper Jo Hyeon-woo has only conceded fifteen in twenty-one games this season, the best ratio the league.

 

Who To Watch

Starting in attack; current Incheon top scorer is Montenegrin International Stefan Mugosa with eight. Including five in his past six league games. He was subbed early on Wednesday saving a little energy for Sunday. Also watch out for Song Si-woo, who produces moments of magic that can turn a game.

Moving into the midfield; Costa Rican Elias Aguilar has been fantastic controlling the game in the middle of the park since his return to Incheon, he was key against Seoul creating the goal and controlling the speed of the game in the latter stages.

Finally at the back, keeper Lee Tae-hui kept another clean sheet on Wednesday, his second in as many games cementing his place as the first choice between the posts. Also at the back on-loan Oh Ban-suk has been a shining light and positive influence in previously struggling backline.

FNR


Prediction

Incheon United have bridged the gap to the rest after picking up eleven points in their past five games. Whilst Ulsan have hit a rough patch and will be looking to kickstart their final stage of the 2020 season.

On paper Incheon maybe bottom of the league, but their league form at the moment is one of the best  winning three of their past five, drawing two and losing just once. Whilst Ulsan maybe top, they maybe depressed following their loss to title rivals Jeonbuk during the week. I see this ending in a draw, but if Ulsan turn up they should edge it. However if they falter, Incheon could pick up a shock three points. It's a tough one to call, but maybe a fun one to watch.

Predicted Score: Incheon United 1-1 Ulsan Hyundai

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