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Islanders Open Home Schedule Against Defending Champions

Jeju United managed a draw in their first match of the season back in K League 1 against Seongnam FC in less than ideal conditions, despite being reduced to ten men with just under twenty minutes to play.  Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors came away 2-0 victors against FC Seoul last weekend thanks to an own goal from Kim Won-gun in the 76th minute and a Modou Barrow strike in the third minute of injury time.  While Jeonbuk will be fancied for the points, Jeju will want to start well at home.  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to the match.

Match: Jeju United vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday, March 6th, 2021; 14:00 KST

Jeju Slow Out of the Blocks; Three Points to Jeonbuk

Jeju missed a great opportunity to get the 2021 campaign off to a positive start as they were held goalless by the Magpies in the final encounter of the first league matchday of the season.  Conditions did little to improve the situation as the teams played the entire ninety minutes in wet conditions, with a torrential downpour intensifying as the match wore on.  Chances were few and far between for both sides in the first half, but Jeju had the chance to go in front just minutes after the re-start, but Lee Chang-min's deflected effort from outside the box glanced the top of the crossbar.

Ahn Hyun-beom was a critical piece to Jeju's success in 2020.  He'll be equally important against Jeonbuk on Saturday afternoon.
Just minutes later, there were shouts for a penalty in the area after Kim Oh-gyu bundled over Lee Kyu-seong, but play proceeded without incident.  Lee Dong-ryul's low strike on goal on 56 minutes was pushed aside by Kim Young-Kwang, denying the islanders a chance to take the lead a second time.  Their luck would change for the worse when second half substitute Jin Seong-wook was sent off with a straight red following VAR consultation after elbowing Ma Sang-hoon in the face.  However, despite enjoying a man advantage and the majority of the chances for the rest of the match, the home side could not make it count and the clubs each took a share of the spoils at the final whistle.

Jeonbuk, meanwhile, got their latest title defense off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory against FC Seoul thanks to a pair of goals inside the final quarter of an hour in the K League 1 curtain-raiser for 2021.  With the win, they maintained their unbeaten record in opening matches since the 2012 season.  The first half was relatively uneventful, but the hosts could have hit the front just before the half, but Gustavo's header from Lee Yong's cross missed the target.  FC Seoul would have several chances in the first fifteen minutes of the second half but failed to score, prompting Barrow and Stanislav Iljutcenko to enter the fray on the hour mark. 

 
Stanislav Iljutchenko looks to crack the starting eleven against Jeju after a strong performance against FC Seoul.
They would finally go in front on 76 minutes after Kim Bo-kyung's free kick was touched home by Kim Won-gun.  That would take the wind out of Park Jin-sub's men, and they would concede a second time when Barrow confirmed all three points when Barrow slotted home from close range.


Team News

Jeju United

Kim Young-wook did not start against Seongnam FC due to injury and was replaced in the lineup by former Gwangju FC captain Yeo Reum.  His status for Saturday afternoon is still unknown.  Lee Kyu-hyuk took the U-22 place in the starting lineup on opening day but was replaced midway through the first half by Lee Dong-ryul.  Polish striker Oskar Zawada came on in the latter stages of the second half for his first appearance with his new club and showed signs he can be counted on as a danger man up front for the islanders.  Jin Seong-wook is suspended due to the red card, which could make space for one of the two new foreign signings, either Gerso Fernandes or Islom Kenzhaboev to see their first action this weekend.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Kim Sang-sik praised his players' efforts in getting the first win of the new season, saying he was grateful for how they approached the match, but he too should deserve some credit for the tactical moves he made which ultimately changed the course of the match resulting in a deserved win.  The inclusions of Barrow and Iljutcenko clearly swung the match in Jeonbuk's favor; the duo could be one to look out for in the coming matches, in fact, both are potentially tipped to start against Jeju following their strong showings on opening weekend.   

Han Kyo-won picked up an injury late against Seoul and may not be available to face Jeju.  Likewise, Lee Seung-gi and Takahiro Kunimoto are doubtful after missing out due to injury last week.  Lee Sung-yoon will most likely start on the right in midfield to fill the U-22 spot in the starting eleven.  That all said, it will most likely be a similar lineup to the one that faced Seoul in the shape of a 4-2-3-1.


What to Watch

Will Jeju be able to hold their own?

The last time the two sides met was during the 2019 season and it ended in a 2-2 draw.  Magno Cruz was charged with an own goal and Son Jun-ho also got on the scoresheet for Jeonbuk, while Yun Il-lok and Nam Jun-jae replied for the islanders.  Jeonbuk currently own a seven match unbeaten streak against their hosts on Saturday afternoon.  The last time Jeju beat Jeonbuk was during the 2017 season, when they finished runners-up in the first division.  In fact, Jeju took two of three matches against Jeonbuk that season.

Times have changed considerably since then, and this is just the beginning of a new chapter in the club's history.  Facing last year's champions so early in the season will be a stiff test for them, but they should be able to put forth a competitive effort nonetheless.

Who to Watch

Oh Seung-hoon - Jeju United

Oh Seung-hoon ranked second with nine clean sheets in K League 2 in 2020.
Goalkeeper Oh Seung-hoon will be a key figure for Jeju United on Saturday when they go up against the K League's most dominant club in recent memory.  His first match after joining the islanders was against Jeonbuk in the summer of 2019.  He'll be going into the match with the confidence of picking up a clean sheet in his first start of the season against Seongnam, where he had to be alert on a few occasions to keep the ball from crossing his goal line.

The former Ulsan Hyundai 'keeper was named to the K League 2 Best XI last season and will only look to improve on his form from the 2020 campaign.  He of all players in the squad knows what sort of challenge the four time defending champions pose, so he will have to be at his best for Jeju to have a chance of taking points from the fixture.

   
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