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Preview: Gangwon FC vs Incheon United

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The great escape requires another victory as bottom of the league Incheon United travel over to the East Coast to face Gangwon FC in a rare Friday evening fixture. Incheon cannot afford to lose again, whilst Gangwon are basically safe and therefore playing for pride at this point. Can Incheon survive for another day?

Last Time Out

Gangwon FC 2-1 Seongnam FC 


Gangwon FC basically confirmed their survival with a win over Seongnam, but it wasn't without controversy. Seongnam were reduced to ten just before the half hour as Park Soo-il was sent off for a slightly mistimed challenge. Seongnam held for the rest of the half and the sides went in level.

The visitors started the second half brighter despite being a man down and took the lead via a Na Sangho turn and finish on the edge of the box. Gangwon however rallied and the man advantage told in the final ten minutes of the half. First Kim Young-bin finished a goalmouth scramble to level. Then Lim Chai-min headed home with only two minutes of the game left to play.

Incheon United 0-1 Suwon Bluewings


Incheon struggled a few weekends ago against a defensively tight Suwon Bluewings side and ultimately feel to a single goal. The pitch at the Sungui Arena was once again a talking point as both sides struggled with pot holes and what looked like mole hills. Incheon hadn't produced much and looked happy to go in level, but Suwon midfielder Kim Tae-hwan produced a moment of magic smashing home from the edge of the box for the level on the stroke of half time.

Incheon improved following the break and hit the woodwork on a couple of occasions, Stefan Mugosa looking like the most likely to score. Tempter boiled over just after the hour following a strong Song Si-woo challenge and four players were booked. Following this moment however Suwon switched to defensive mode and Incheon rarely challenged for the rest of the game. Suwon moved a step closer to safety, whilst Incheon returned to the bottom of the table.

Previous Meetings 

Incheon United and Gangwon have played twice this season. Firstly Gangwon won in Incheon, coming out 2-1 winners. A late Go Moo-yol penalty was the ultimately the difference that day. Then Incheon won over in Gangwon 3-2. Stefan Mugosa scored a hat-trick before an attempted comeback reduced the deficit.

As mentioned Incheon last beat Gangwon away just last month, Gangwon FC however beat Incheon at home last year on Children's Day 1-0. Also Gangwon picked up a record 7-0 win in the fixture back in August 2018.

Over the years Incheon and Gangwon have played each other twenty-five times with the victories narrowly edged by Gangwon eleven to Incheon's ten. Only four games have ended in a draw. Finally only one of the twenty-five games has finished goalless.

Team News

Neither Incheon nor Gangwon will have any players missing this weekend due to suspension.

Incheon manager Jo Sung-hwan has for the most part been able to find a second gear this season as the unlikely great escape it now looking surprisingly possible. It seems unlikely that there will be many changes in the starting lineup and/or tactics for Fridays game, following the rest week aka international break.

Incheon still have a few injury concerns and players lacking the fitness to play a full ninety. Kim Ho-nam made a brief cameo against Suwon two weeks ago, but looked off the pace and not ready for a return. Brazilian Gustavo could be on the bench again, however Aussie Rashid Mahazi sadly doesn't seem to be in the bosses plans moving forward.

Adversary

Gangwon had a strong 2019 season finishing in the top half, but lacked the quality to be able to push beyond that. This season they have a young squad and have built on last seasons positives, but have lacked goals and form. They have focused on domestic talent this season, not using a single foreign player to date. They're a solid mid-table side.

The standout players for Gangwon FC so far this season have been joint-top goalscorer Ko Moo-yeol. The former Jeonbuk, Asan and Pohang forward has seven goals so far during his debut season for Gangwon, including the winning goal against Incheon earlier this season. Also young star Kim Ji-hyun has seven goals to him name this season, but hasn't scored since the league split.

Who To Watch

Starting upfront; current Incheon top scorer is Montenegrin International Stefan Mugosa with eleven goals, including six in September leading to him being named the leagues player of the month. Also watch out for super sub Song Si-woo, who always plays to win.

Moving into the midfield; captain Kim Do-hyeok scored a brace a few weeks back against Seongnam and has been key in the deeper midfield battles and creating counter-attacking options. Also Elias Aguilar was a little off against Suwon, but when he's fit he can turn the tide of a game with ease.

Finally at the back, keeper Lee Tae-hui has cemented his number one spot in goal thanks to some commanding performances since returning to the side during the summer. Also at the back on-loan Oh Ban-suk has been a shining light in a struggling backline.

FNR

Prediction

Incheon United lost ground on their relegation rivals last weekend losing to Suwon last time out and with only three games to go they cannot afford to drop points again. Gangwon on the other hand are all-but safe at this point and the lack of pressure could allow them to relax and play some attractive football.

Incheon generally are better playing away from home and beat Gangwon just over a month ago also on the road. They also have a lot more to play for at this stage of the season. Goals are common when these sides meet and I personally see Incheon pushing forward and picking up the full three points on Friday evening. Putting pressure on the sides sharing the relegation battle with them.

Predicted Score: Gangwon FC 1-2 Incheon United

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