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Busan IPark aim to bounce back against Gimcheon Sangmu

Two of the K League 2 title favourites go head to head on Sunday afternoon, with both aiming to find form after stuttering starts to the new season. Busan IPark will be looking for their first win at Gudeok Stadium since last August, while travelling Gimcheon Sangmu go in search of back-to-back wins in a bid to kick-start their title charge. Tomas Marcantonio previews.

Match Overview

Match: Busan IPark vs Gimcheon Sangmu FC (K League 2, Round 4)

Venue: Gudeok Stadium, Busan 

Kick-off: Sunday, March 21st, 2021 - 16:00 (KST)

Recent Form

Both Busan and Gimcheon have endured disappointing starts to the new campaign, with both only winning once in the first three rounds of matches. 

After being thrashed by Seoul E-Land in the opening fixture, Busan looked to have turned a corner with an impressive 2-1 over Daejeon Hana Citizen two weeks ago. However, a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Chungnam Asan last weekend dumped the Royals to the foot of the K League 2 table. After three rounds, no team has scored fewer than Busan’s two, nor conceded more than Busan’s eight. 

Gimcheon Sangmu, meanwhile, went into the season as favourites for the K League 2 title and automatic promotion, but their results and performances so far have failed to meet expectations. After a drab draw with Ansan Greeners in Round 1, Gimcheon were well beaten by Seoul E-Land in Round 2, and they needed to come from behind to carve out their first win of the season at Daejeon last time out.

Team News

Busan IPark will be without both of their joint captains. Defensive midfielder Park Jong-woo will be out for five months with a ligament injury, while centre back Kang Min-soo will miss the next two months. Kim Jeong-hyun should be a direct replacement for Park in the middle, having recovered from injury to make his first appearance of the season off the bench last time out. 

In defence, Peres has to decide whether to keep faith with youngster Park Ho-young, who endured a torrid game against Asan, and goalkeeper Ahn Joon-soo, who has yet to convince between the sticks. Kim Seung-woo and Choi Pil-soo are possible replacements for the duo, while elsewhere Park Jeong-in is likely to return to the starting lineup in place of Lee Sang-heon. 

Teenage striker Oh Hyeon-gyu could lead the line for Gimcheon.

Gimcheon Sangmu have a new batch of players in the ranks, but the likes of Gu Sung-yun, Cho Gue-sung, and Jung Seung-hyun are expected to have to wait for their debuts, as they must first undergo basic military training. 

Key players Kwon Kyung-won and Park Yong-woo have been sorely missed in the opening weeks of the season, while international winger Moon Seon-min has also missed the last two games through injury. Coach Kim Tae-wan could keep faith with 19 year-old Oh Hyeon-gyu up top after the striker scored last weekend - his third goal in seven appearances for the army team.

What to Watch - Tactical Reshuffles

Busan IPark’s new coach Ricardo Peres came under fire from supporters last weekend after tactical naivety seemed to contribute heavily to a resounding 4-0 defeat to Asan. Playing long balls from a high defensive line left the Busan rear guard horribly exposed, and Peres will need to switch things up this Sunday or else face a repeat drubbing. 

The introduction of Kim Jeong-hyun should inject more defensive solidity and composure into the midfield, allowing Busan to build more through the middle rather than spraying hopeful passes to the wings. Peres will need to show that he has more than one gameplan, though; one of many questions supporters will want answering is why bring in the reigning MVP (An Byong-jun) if your system doesn’t play to his strengths? 

Busan IPark striker An Byong-jun is yet to score for his new club.

Gimcheon Sangmu will fancy their chances against a Busan side that looked all at sea last week. After disappointing showings in their first two games, Sangmu coach Kim Tae-wan altered formations for last weekend’s trip to Daejeon. Changing from a 4-3-3 to a 5-3-2 turned out to be a shrewd move, adding extra insurance to a back line that has badly missed its star defender Kwon Kyung-won. 

The extra width provided by the wing backs – and their greater license to roam – also contributed directly to their first goal last week; captain Sim Sang-min’s excellent foray down the left resulting in an easy finish for Oh Hyeon-gyu. 

If Gimcheon play a similar way on Sunday, Busan’s usually marauding full backs may find themselves pinned back inside their own half. As the majority of Busan’s chances last week spawned from left back Park Min-gyu, Peres may well need to find an alternate route into the Sangmu box.

Who to Watch - Kim Jin-gyu

Kim Jin-gyu (centre) looks set to be Busan IPark's stand-in captain for the next two months.
Arguably the only Busan player to have impressed in all three games so far, the central midfielder looks to be coming of age this year. Kim seems set to play regularly in the ‘number eight’ role this season, with a more defensive midfielder alongside and an attacking midfielder in front. Kim will be tasked with helping out with defensive duties while picking his moments to join attacks, while the absence of captains Park and Kang mean that Kim will also have the added responsibility of leading an inexperienced team at the age of 24.

He has already shown an excellent understanding of the role so far this year. Kim is capable of getting into the opposition box at the right moments (he was unlucky to have a goal ruled out for offside last weekend), while his keen eye for through balls will be invaluable to Busan this season. Against a Gimcheon midfield three that is more workmanlike than creative, Kim could run the game on Sunday, and he will be Busan’s key creative force.

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