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Preview: Gangwon FC vs. Ulsan Hyundai


Third hosts second this Tuesday night, as Gangwon FC continue the search for their first ever home win over Ulsan Hyundai. Kim Byung-soo's side have drawn plaudits for their attractive football this season, but with Ulsan unbeaten after six games and just a point off top spot, it will take more than intricate passing to beat the rampant Horangi.   

Last Time Out

Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2-2 Gangwon FC
Gangwon have won only one in their last thirteen away matches, dating back to June last year, and this performance showed why.  Having got their noses in front, the Bears dominated much of the play and fashioned plenty of chances to put the game beyond the reach of hapless Suwon.  

However, a momentary lapse in concentration at the back let in Kim Min-woo to salvage a point for the hosts late on. The result cuts Gangwon three points adrift of Ulsan in second place and four away from Jeonbuk at the top. 



Ulsan Hyundai 1-0 Seongnam FC
Seongnam's impressive defence withstood the Ulsan attack in relative comfort for much of the ninety minutes last Saturday.  However, in Junior Negrao, the Horangi have the most deadly striker in the league right now.  

The 33-year-old Brazilian hadn't been given a sniff at goal all afternoon, but was still able to come up with the match winner, showing strength to lose his marker before chesting down a Kim Tae-hwan cross and rifling his shot inside the near post. 

It was a bit of a comedown for Kim Do-hoon's side after their historic thrashing of rivals Pohang the weekend before, but this is the kind of victory Ulsan will need if they are to get their hands on their first title since 2005.  

Previous Meetings

Despite the fact that Gangwon have progressed steadily over their twelve year history, to the point  where they are now considered a genuine top-four prospect, they have still never beaten Ulsan on their own turf. 

In fact, they have taken just three points from the Horangi, home and away, since they were promoted to the K League 1 three years ago. In 2019, Ulsan won three out of the four meetings, the last of which came post split when two early goals from Junior took Kim Do-hoon's side top of the table.  

Team News

Gangwon FC
The Korean Nation Team's U19 training camp this week has somewhat lifted the burden of team selection for some K League 1 managers for this week's Tuesday and Wednesday fixtures. 

As the Bears have a player, Park Gyeong-bae, at the camp, Kim Byung-soo needs only pick one U22 in his match day squad. So expect 20-year-old 'keeper Lee Gwang-yeon, to drop to the bench to be replaced by the more experienced Lee Bum-soo in nets.

Ko Moo-yeol celebrates giving Gangwon the lead at Suwon
Kim Byung-soo will likely name another all -Korean starting XI, spearheaded by the familiar partnership of Kim Seung-dae and Ko Moo-yeol. Ko seems to be flourishing now he has been reunited with his teammate from Pohang's 2013 league-winning campaign; the 29 year-old added another goal to his tally at Suwon last weekend to make it four in five for the season so far.

Ulsan Hyundai
Manager Kim Do-hoon may elect to freshen things up for this match as his team faces another tough away trip to FC Seoul at the weekend.  Ulsan have two players in Korea U19 training squad, meaning they do not need to include any U22 players this Tuesday to get their full allocation of subs.  

That will likely see Seol Young-woo drop out of the starting lineup to be replaced by Lee Dong-gyeong on the right, as Lee Chung-yong is still recovering from an ankle knock. 

Bjorn Johnsen celebrates with fellow striker Junior Negrao after his winner against Seongnam 

Striker Bjorn Johnsen came on as a second half sub against Seongnam and has been largely credited with unlocking the stubborn Magpies defence. If Junior's goal-scoring exploits have earned him a midweek rest, we may even see the Norwegian international Johnsen get his first league start for the Horangi.

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Prediction

This one has "banana skin" written all over it for Ulsan. While they have struggled for consistency under Kim Byung-soo's stewardship, Gangwon are capable of beating anyone on their day, as they showed with their victory over Jeonbuk a few weeks ago.

However, Gangwon's open, free-flowing style is bound to leave them vulnerable at the back -- something that Ulsan will be all too happy to exploit. And it's not all about Junior when it comes to Ulsan's goals: take away his seven and Kim Do-hoon's side have still scored more than every team in the bottom half of the table. 

Given the history, and the fact that Ulsan have shown no signs of letting up in their pursuit of the title, I think this will be a high scoring, entertaining away win.

Prediction: Gangwon FC 2-4 Ulsan Hyundai 



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