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Preview: Gwangju FC vs Ulsan Hyundai


Gwangju FC's torrid start to the season sees no sign of abating as second-placed Ulsan Hyundai travel to Jeollanamdo. Propping up K League 1, Park Jin-seop's side still don't have a goal to shout about after three straight defeats.

Last Time Out

Sangju Sangmu 1-0 Gwangju FC

Overshadowed by Kim Hyo-gi's late head injury, Gwangju failed to inspire once again as Kang Sang-woo's early strike consigned them to another defeat. Thankfully, reports from the club suggest that Kim will make a full recovery following CT scans. Gwangju recorded just one shot on target for the third consecutive game, while putting together less than 300 passes.


Ulsan Hyundai 1-1 Busan I Park

Ulsan lost their 100% record as they faced a tougher than expected test against newly-promoted Busan. Kim Do-hoon's side dominated possession and had more chances but fell behind to Lee Jeong-hyeop's well-taken half-volley on 55 minutes. Junior Negrao equalised from the spot but Ulsan failed to find a winner despite Kim throwing on winter signing Bjorn Johnsen.

                                              [READ: Horangi held by buoyant Busan]


Previous Meetings

This pair last met in 2017 as Gwangju hosted Ulsan in K League 1. Regular winger Kim In-sung gave the Horangi an early lead, curtailed by current Jeonnam Dragons man Wanderson to claim a 1-1 draw. Kim struck once more in the return fixture to secure a 1-0 win, assisted by new Gwangju signing Kim Chang-soo. Their first meeting of 2017 saw journeyman Jo Seong-joon salvage a late point. The Yellows have failed to taste victory against Ulsan on the last nine occasions with their only win in the history of this fixture coming in 2015 thanks to Kim Ho-nam.

Team News

Gwangju boss Park Jin-seop urged his team to show fighting spirit in a bold yet organised style against Sangju. The Yellows did restrict the military team to shots from outside the box and cut short any crossing opportunities but yet again that came at a price with little attacking intent. Influential wingers Eom Won-sang and Willyan are expected to remain absent through injury with Marcos Urena expected to get more minutes from the bench. Park Jin-seop is unable to shake up a three-man midfield, boasting only four first team central midfielders in his squad.

The Adversary

Unbeaten this season, Ulsan sent out early warning shots to Jeonbuk Hyundai with their opening day hammering of Sangju. Yet to replicate the heights of that performance, Kim Do-hoon's side did turn around a two-goal deficit to win at Suwon Samsung Bluewings before being frustrated by Busan. Sat in second, new signings Yoon Bit-garam and Lee Chung-yong have settled in well while Junior has five goals to his name already. Dropping Jason Davidson for right-footed Jeong Dong-ho at left back seemed to upset the balance of play, slowing down attacking moves as Jeong was forced to cut back onto his preferred foot. With all the attention surrounding Lee Chung-yong's transfer this summer, it's Lee Sang-heon's performances that have stood out. The 22-year-old, playing in the number 10 role only featured five times last season but has already clocked up 161 minutes in three games.

What To Watch

Park Jin-seop has been tinkering with his tactics from match day one this season, switching between a 4-4-2, 3-5-2 and 4-5-1 at times. The transition to K League 1 has brought about a more direct style of play as an under pressure defence look for an out ball to Felipe. This failed against Sangju with the Brazilian striker completing just eight passes in the game, devoid of service and only mustering one shot. 

A central midfield boasting two players over 30 is struggling to cope with the pace of a higher division, as can be seen in the drop in number of interceptions per game. Looking at Gwangju's passing stats, centre back Rustam Ashurmatov has completed the most common pass in all three games so far. On each occasion to fellow defenders, this shows that he is lacking options to pass to in midfield but also that he is the one trusted by Park Jin-seop to have the quality on the ball to start moves.




FNR


Prediction - Gwangju FC 0-2 Ulsan Hyundai

The prospects don't look great for a side struggling to show any attacking prowess against three sides they were expected to compete with. Ulsan represent genuine title contenders with a strong squad who will also be reeling from suggestions they underestimated Busan. The Yellows have more hope of securing points in their following three fixtures against Suwon Bluewings, Busan and Incheon United.

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