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Preview: Ulsan Hyundai vs. Gwangju FC

K League 1 Preview: Ulsan Hyundai vs Gwangju FC

With the split looming and a four-point lead at the top of the table, Kim Do-hoon won't want Ulsan Hyundai to take their foot off the pedal this weekend. However, it may be esier said than done as they go up against a Gwangju FC side that scored six last round in a remarkable win over Daegu -- a result that means the Yellows are now unbeaten in five. Dan Croydon previews what is bound to be one of the trickier ties Ulsan have faced of late.


Match: Ulsan Hyundai vs. Gwangju FC
Venue: Munsu Stadium, Ulsan.
Kick off: Sunday, 6th September 2020; 19:00 (KST)

Last Time Out

Ulsan Hyundai 3-0 FC Seoul
All the talk before this match was about Seoul's Ki Sung-yueng finally returning to K League action and facing off against long-time friend and former teammate Lee Chung-yong. We did get to see the reunion, but it was clear which of the two players is going to have the bigger impact this campaign.

While fans had to wait til the 70th minute for Ki to be introduced, Lee had an impact from the off, and it was the former Bolton and Crystal Palace man who broke the deadlock, turning home the second ball after a corner from the excellent Shin Jin-ho created confusion in the Seoul six-yard box.

A trademark tap-in from Brazilian predator Junior made it two before halftime, and Ulsan set about seeing the game out after the break. 

The introduction of Ki in a deep-lying playmaker role created a few half chances for the visitors, but the contest was already over when Ulsan's Jung Hoon-sung strode clear late on to score his first for the club and Ulsan's third on the night.


Daegu FC 4-6 Gwangju FC
Gwangju moved within a point of the top half with a remarkable victory over ACL qualification hopefuls Daegu. The game tied the record for the most goals in a single K League match and saw the Yellows double their total number of away goals this campaign in one fell swoop.

Brazilian duo Felipe and Willyan ran the show, the former getting a brace and the latter scoring the goal of the game to retake the lead after the hosts had pegged it back to 2-2.

An impressive late cameo from Lim Min-hyuk was the icing on the cake: the former FC Seoul youngster notched up his first of the season to make it 3-5, before he laid on a sixth for fellow substitute Kim Ju-kong.


Previous Meetings

This will be Gwangju's first visit to Munsu Stadium since July 2017, the season they were relegated to K2. The Horangi won 1-0 on that occasion thanks to a goal from winger Kim In-sung.

That low-scoring match was very "on-brand" for this fixture, as neither side has scored more than one goal in any of the last five meetings.

Ulsan have only lost to Gwangju once in the 18 times the two have met, and that was back in 2015. However, the Yellows are one of the few teams to take points off Kim Do-hoon's side this season: the teams played out a 1-1 draw back at the end of May in a frustrating evening for the Horangi that saw them have 19 shots on goal. 

Team News

Ulsan Hyundai
Kim Do-hoon showed his willingness to rotate his midfield again last weekend by dropping Yoon Bit-garam and Hong Chul to the bench and handing starts to Koh Myong-jin and Park Jeong-in. Both did well, particularly Koh who made intelligent late runs into the box similar to those usually made by Yoon.

Koh Myong-jin was a thorn in Seoul's side for much of last weekend's game

Kim may opt to do the same with a crunch week coming up that sees Ulsan host Daegu before travelling to Jeonbuk in a match of huge title implications.

That means Kim may decide to hand another start to target man Bjorn Johnsen, using Junior as an impact sub in the second half. Meanwhile, defender Jung Sung-hyun is back in the picture having served his one-match suspension against Seoul.
Gwangju FC
Park Jin-seop's Gwangju have frustrated many a top half team this season thanks to the solid centre-back pairing of Rustamjon Ashurmatov and Hong Joon-ho. They will be flanked by fullbacks Lee Min-gi and former Ulsan favourite Kim Chang-soo.

Up front, Park once against has his impressive three-pronged attack of Felipe, Willyan, and U22 winger Eom Wong-sang at his disposal. 

Felipe and Willyan have formed a great understanding over the last two years at Gwangju
Their combination of strength, guile, and speed proved deadly for Daegu last weekend, and it will come as little surprise to hear that, together, they account for over two-thirds of Gwangju's goals this year.

Prediction

If Ulsan are to avoid dropping points to Gwangju again then they are going to have to find a way to keep those front three quiet. Expect Ulsan to try to control the tempo of the game then, with Won Du-jae sitting deep to help out against the physical presence of Felipe.

At the other end of the field, the pace of Kim Tae-hwan and Hong Chul on the overlap is bound to give Gwangju some problems, meaning we may well see both Johnsen and Junior on the pitch at the same time, especially if the game is tight going into the last twenty minutes.

Suwon showed it is possible to keep Ulsan at bay, particularly at the Munsu, and Gwangju are exactly the kind of gritty, battling side that Kim Do-hoon struggles to find a way through. This should be a home win, but should Gwangju get the first goal, the Horangi will be made to work hard for their points.


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