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Preview: Busan IPark vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings



Busan IPark have fresh hope of retaining their top flight status after a morale-boosting win over FC Seoul last time out, but can they keep the momentum going against an in-form Suwon team? The Bluewings come into the game on the back of three straight wins and, depending on results elsewhere, even a point this Sunday could guarantee their safety. Tomas Marcantonio previews a potential six-pointer.


Overview

Image via Soccerway

Last Time Out

FC Seoul 1-2 Busan IPark

Busan IPark bounced back from three straight defeats to grind out an impressive victory over FC Seoul two weeks ago. Goals from influential midfielders Lee Gyu-seong and Park Jong-woo put Busan on the path to victory, and a virtuoso goalkeeping display from Choi Pil-soo restricted Seoul to a single goal, scored midway through the second half by Jung Han-min.

Busan’s caretaker manager Lee Ki-hyung made a positive first impression on supporters, showing not only tactical acumen but also a positivity rarely seen under Cho Deok-jae this season. Busan defended resolutely but also attacked in numbers, looking far more like the team that achieved promotion last season.



Incheon United 0-1 Suwon Samsung Bluewings

A single goal from youngster Kim Tae-hwan was enough to secure a vital victory for the Bluewings over bottom side Incheon. The right back’s fierce left-footed drive was just reward for an impressive away performance for Park Kun-ha’s team.

A win for Incheon would have put them level on points with Suwon, but Kim’s goal put Suwon six points clear of the drop spot. With only three matches to play, a draw this weekend would be enough to ensure Suwon’s top flight status if Incheon lose to Gangwon FC. 


Previous Meetings

This will be the third meeting between Busan and Suwon this year. Busan held the Bluewings to a goalless draw when Suwon last came to Gudeok back in May, while Suwon ran out 3-1 winners at the last meeting in August. A brace from Kim Min-woo and a late goal from Yeom Ki-hun earned victory for the hosts that day after Lee Jeong-hyup had given Busan an early lead.

Team News

Busan IPark could be without Kim Moon-hwan after the right back missed out on last week’s international fixtures with a hamstring injury. Park Joon-kang and Lee Sang-jun are likely to occupy the full-back positions in Kim’s absence. Fellow internationals Lee Jeong-hyup and Lee Dong-jun are both available after appearing in the double-header against Korea’s U23 team.

Club captain Kang Min-soo and Brazilian playmaker Romulo were only deemed fit enough for the bench in Seoul after recovering from injuries, and both could return to the starting eleven this weekend at the expense of Kim Myoung-jun and Kim Jeong-hyun.

The Adversary


The decision to sack Lee Lim-saeng this summer seems to have paid dividends for Suwon Samsung Bluewings. Although they are not yet out of danger, Park Kun-ha seems to have found a winning formula since taking over from caretaker manager Ju Seung-jin in September. Ten points from a possible fifteen is an impressive return for a club that has flirted with the bottom three all season, and the team has hit form at just the right time. 

Adam Taggart may not have hit the goalscoring heights of last season, but his recent hattrick against Seoul suggests the quality is still there, while ever-present Kim Min-woo remains a vital source of creativity from the left. New signing Han Seok-jong, meanwhile, has added steel and composure to a heavily rotated midfield.

Park Kun-ha has continued to implement a back three since taking over, and the back line could be bolstered by the return of Canadian defender Doneil Henry on Sunday. The burly 27 year-old has been one of Suwon’s more impressive performers this season, and he returned from injury to make the bench last time out.


What To Watch

Han Seok-jong vs. Lee Gyu-sung

Han Seok-jong has been an ever-present since joining Suwon from Sangju Sangmu.
Han Seok-jong captained Sangju Sangmu to the lofty heights of third in the table earlier this season, before joining Suwon when his military service ended. The rangy holding midfielder has had a huge impact since his transfer, with Suwon winning four of the seven games he has played for the club (without him, for reference, the team won three games out of 17).

At 185cm, Han offers a far more physical presence in the midfield than the diminutive Ko Seung-beom, Park Sang-hyeok, and Kim Min-woo. Han will tasked with shielding the defence and breaking up Busan’s attacks on Sunday, and one player he will need to watch closely is Lee Gyu-sung.

Lee Gyu-sung scored his first goal in over three years against Seoul last time out.
Lee was given much more attacking rein than usual in the win over Seoul, and it was arguably the midfielder’s most influential performance of the season. Playing in the hole behind Lee Jeong-hyup, Lee was quick to join every Busan attack, linking the midfield and front three to great effect. As well as scoring his first goal of the season, Lee also teed up Lee Jeong-hyup and Romulo for two of Busan’s best chances, and he will be tasked with a similar job this weekend.

If Han Seok-jong can thwart Lee at Gudeok Stadium on Sunday, Busan will struggle to create and the points will be there for Suwon to take.


FNR

Prediction

Suwon Bluewings are in their best form of the year, and their top tier status could be confirmed with a positive result this Sunday. Busan look to have a new lease of life under caretaker manager Lee Ki-hyung, however, so this won’t be an easy trip south for the Bluewings. Both teams will be desperate not to lose, so a draw seems the most likely outcome.

Predicted Score
Busan IPark 1-1 Suwon Samsung Bluewings


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