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scouting

Bucheon host surprise playoff contenders Ansan Greeners

 

Two teams who have failed to win in their previous two games face-off on Saturday. Ninth placed hosts Bucheon FC 1995 are looking for their first April league goal and want to prevent themselves from falling to a third straight loss. Fifth placed visitors Ansan Greeners, meanwhile, are in a position where they could finish the weekend in anywhere from second to ninth place, depending on results.

Recent Form

Bucheon have seen their form slump after it looked like they recovered from their opening match defeat to Daejeon Hana Citizen. A win and two draws in the league has given way to two recent defeats, consisting of a 4-0 loss to Seoul E-land and a 1-0 away defeat to Gimcheon Sangmu last Saturday. Bucheon thought they managed to hold on for a point, but Kang Ji-hoon scored for the hosts to see Bucheon remain on five points in ninth place. They are just a point above last placed Gyeongnam and two points behind eighth placed Busan IPark, but as three teams sit on eight points Bucheon could find themselves as high as fifth place with a win on Saturday. This would be a welcome development for the team, as they tumbled out of the FA Cup on penalties to K3 League club Gimhae FC on Wednesday. 

Ansan suffered the same fate in the cup as Bucheon, in their case losing to Chungnam Asan 1-0. Fifth is where Ansan Greeners find themselves and they have had a better start to the season than their opponents. They have recorded two wins, draws, and losses each and they have not yet had any consecutive results in the keague being the same. Their last three league matches have consisted of a 1-0 over Chungnam Asan, a 1-1 draw with Busan IPark, and a 1-0 defeat to Jeonnam Dragons. Similarly to Bucheon against Gimcheon, Ansan looked like they were on their way to a draw but then conceded a last minute goal. If their form is to continue the way it is currently going then Ansan should be expected to gain a win or a draw, though last year showed that the two teams are fairly evenly divided with both teams winning 2-0 once, with their also being a goalless draw between the two sides. It is still early in the season so it is unclear if Ansan are definitely the better team or if they have just had greater fortune than Bucheon


What to Watch

Both teams have players who will be out for months due to suspension. Bucheon third choice goalkeeper Moon Gwang-seok (who has yet to make his debut for the club) was suspended for 15 games for drink driving in March and won't be available till July. Meanwhile Ansan's new signing Kang Soo-il is serving the remainder of a suspension he earned back in 2015 for failing a doping test, so he cannot play until June. 

On the pitch Bucheon continue to exclusively play in a 3-4-3 despite the fact it has not earned them points for a month and they have failed to find a second goalscorer in the league after Park Chang-jun. The club seem good at keeping possession and setting up attacks but they just continue to lack an edge in the final third, where their attacks seem to just fizzle out. If the manager has gone this long without experimenting with the formation, then it is unlikely to be seen this Saturday.

Ansan have also lined up in a 3-4-3 this season but they have actually altered the formation on occasion, as they have also attempted to play with a 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 this season. While Bucheon can guess what tactics they will use, they cannot be certain and that will give Ansan an edge with preparation. Overall 3-4-3 has yielded Ansan seven of their eight points this season, so they will likely stick with it, meaning Saturday could be a battle of the same formation. At least Ansan have chosen their tactic due to it being the best one used this season, rather than forcing it to work. Bucheon might be able to perfect it eventually, but they also desperately need results to go their way quickly.

Who to Watch

Bucheon's record appearance holder Kim Ryun-do has been a first team regular for Ansan Greeners since joining the club last year, and he has played every minute so far this season. The 29 year-old has not been prolific this season, only scoring two goals (both penalties) in the league so far this season, but he has proven to be an indispensable part of Ansan's tactics, and in fact those two penalties make him Ansan's top scorer in the league this year. He is the league leader in aerial duals and his link-up play has seen him produce an assist this season. 

Kim has never been prolific, as his most productive season in front of goal was in 2019 when he scored six goals for Bucheon, but he always seems to add an extra dimension to his sides attack that makes him a dangerous player. Bucheon need to be more wary of their former player than most other sides, as in the last match between these two sides Kim scored both goals in a 2-0 Ansan win, showing Bucheon what they were missing. He could truly be a difference maker on Saturday if Bucheon are not careful.

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