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Preview: Incheon United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

K League 1 Preview: Incheon United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Incheon United will be hoping to kick start their season following the much needed international break with a win. However, they face a tough task, as they welcome K League leaders and defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Will the home side be able to cause an upset?


Last Time Out

Seongnam FC 0-0 Incheon United

Incheon laboured to a goalless draw a few weeks ago against fellow strugglers Seongnam FC. The first half was mainly forgettable with both sides creating little more than half chances. One moment of note was the booking for Incheon defender Jung Dong-yoon just before the end of the half.

In the second half, Incheon started the stronger creating a few decent chances. However, that pressure ended when Jung Dong-yoon picked up his second booking of the game and was therefore sent off. Seongnam picked up the pace after securing the man advantage but overall couldn't make the most of it. A string of fine saves by Incheon keeper Jeong San was a key factor in keeping the game goalless.

Highlights: here

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-0 Sangju Sangmu

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors jumped back to the top of the league a couple of weekends ago thanks to a composed victory over army side Sangju Sangmu. It extended their K League winning run to four games, but it wasn't all plain sailing. The first half started well for Jeonbuk until Kim Jin-su was shown a straight red card after just twenty-five minutes, meaning Jeonbuk had to play for over an hour with only ten men.

Early into the second half Jeonbuk figured out their man disadvantage and took the lead. Kim Shin-wook provided the assist for winger Moon Seon-Min to put Jeonbuk ahead after fifty-six minutes. Jeonbuk slowed the pace of the game down following the goal and Sangju couldn't find an opening. In injury time Jeonbuk confirmed the three points as Moon Seon-Min turned provider for Lee Dong-Gook to score his first goal since early April.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Incheon United and Jeonbuk Hyundai clashed at the beginning of the season with Jeonbuk winning 2-0.  Former Incheon man Moon Seon-min, as well as Kim Shin-wook, scored the goals to hand Jeonbuk that win. Last season, they played each other three times, with Jeonbuk winning one, one game ending three-all and the other won 3-2 by Incheon.

As mentioned Incheon beat Jeonbuk at home at the beginning of last season 3-2, Moon Seon-min (now Jeonbuk) scored the key goals that afternoon. Jeonbuk last beat Incheon away in August 2017, winning 3-1, with an Edu brace being the difference.

Over the years Incheon and Jeonbuk have played each other 42 times with the victories edged by Jeonbuk. They've won fifteen times versus Incheon's twelve. The other fifteen games have ended in draws.

Team News

Incheon United Manager Yoo Sang-chul saw some signs of improvement prior to the international break, maybe partly due to squad rotation. Defender Jung Dong-yoon is suspended following his sending off against Seongnam and Lim Eun-soo is a booking away from a ban. Vietnamese star Nguyễn Công Phượng left the club a week ago, with rumors suggesting that he is off to France.

Adversary

The biggest issue facing Jeonbuk manager José Morais heading into this match is the extent to which he should rotate his squad, considering they face two difficult legs against Chinese champions Shanghai SIPG as well as a match against rivals Suwon Bluewings in between. Facing Incheon United would seem the logical choice if players were to be held back but Saturday's hosts have often proved to be somewhat of a bogey side for Jeonbuk in recent season.

There is at least one change that the manager will have to make as he looks to replace Kim Jin-su at left back who misses this match through suspension. It seems likely Choi Chul-soon or Lee Ju-young will deputise. Any other major overhauls may come in midfield, with Bernie Ibini, Han Seung-gyu and Lim Sun-young potentially in line for a start if the usual suspects of Lee Seung-gi, Son Jun-ho or Moon Seon-min are not initially selected.

One thing that does seem highly likely though is that Jeonbuk are probably going to line up in their standard 4-1-4-1 shape, a formation they have not changed across all competitions since the end of March and has coincided with uptake in their form. Ultimately, Jeonbuk's second string should still offer a decent threat if there is rotation, but the manager may well be tempted to get his preferred side back playing together after the international break and hope to start generating the momentum right away to carry through this difficult fortnight of fixtures.

- Matthew Binns (K League United's Jeonbuk Columnist)


Who To Watch

Incheon United will be looking towards Montenegrin striker and current top scorer Stefan Mugoša to rediscover his scoring form from last season and help fire them out of the relegation zone. He scored once whilst away on international duty, scoring against Kosovo during a 1-1 draw.

Moving into the midfield, captain Nam Jun-jae has been maybe the most consistent player this season, but he has struggled at times with injuries. The Incheon faithful will be hoping he can link up with Mugoša and others to provide some much needed goals. Also Swedish midfielder Jiloan Hamad hasn't taken to the K League quickly, but there is still hope he will come good.

Finally, at the back, keeper Jeong San produced a fine performance against Seongnam last time out and it was a nice change of pace to see Incheon stronger at the back. Gordan Bunoza should be fit to return on Saturday, which adds extra strength just at the right time.

For Jeonbuk Hyundai; winger Moon Seon-min is well known to Incheon fans following his breakout season last year for United. He has had a strong start to living down in Jeonju as well, scoring five times so far this season. Also look out for top scorer Kim Shin-wook and of course never sleep on veteran Lee Dong-gook.

Prediction

Incheon United come into this game knowing that they maybe have little to lose and a lot to gain here against league leaders Jeonbuk. A point would be a good result, however. Incheon do have a solid record against Jeonbuk and might be able to provide a shock. Manager Yoo Sang-chul will play defensively with the normal 4-5-1 formation being the likely tactic this coming Saturday.

Overall, Incheon need to start the post-International break run of games with a solid result but against Jeonbuk that might be a tough ask. The home fans haven't seen a win at the Sungui Arena since week two of the season, but on the road, Incheon did pick up four points recently. At the end of the day, the strong attacking pressure from Jeonbuk coupled with Incheon's shaky defensive-line will allow Jeonbuk to claim the three points, but Incheon might at least grab a consolation goal.

Predicted Score: Incheon United 1 - 2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

See also: K League 1 Round 15 Preview

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