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Bottom club Bucheon battle below-par Busan IPark

Round nine in the K League 2 is here and clubs will have played all their opponents once by the end of the weekend. On Saturday last place hosts Bucheon FC 1995 need a win in order to regain the ninth place spot that they lost last Saturday. Meanwhile, eighth place visitors Busan IPark could reach as high as fifth place if they can secure their second win in five league matches. 

Recent Form

Bucheon have hit some seriously bad form as they have lost their last five matches in all competitions. Their only goal in this period came in a 1-1 AET draw that lead to a penalty shoot-out defeat to Gimhae City in the FA Cup. The two league losses that came before that were a 4-0 away thrashing to Seoul E-land and a 1-0 away defeat to Gimcheon Sangmu, and they were followed by a 1-0 home loss to Ansan Greeners and a 3-0 collapse away at Gyeongnam. It appears Bucheon have not improved at all since last season, where they went on an even worse run of form throughout the whole of the summer. They by far have the worst form in the league and look as though they are the favourites to lose this Sunday, unless they can sneak a goalless draw.

Busan also were knocked out in the FA Cup, though their opponents were K League 1 club Seongnam. Apart from that their form differs, as Busan have at least also picked up a win and a draw in the league in their last five matches in all competitions. April began with a 1-1 home draw against Ansan and then a 2-1 away loss at FC Anyang. Their 1-0 away FA Cup defeat followed, but Busan immediately bounced back by defeating south coast rivals Gyeongnam 2-1 away. However, that joy was short lived as Busan then lost 1-0 at home to Jeonnam Dragons, courtesy of a late goal by former player Jonathan Balotelli. Busan do not look like a side ready to bounce straight back into K League 1, but against Bucheon they have a very good chance of gaining three crucial points for their playoff push. Busan also have recent history on their side in this fixture. In 2019, the last season these two played in their same division, the clubs drew twice and Busan emerged victorious twice. The last Bucheon win in this fixture was a 2-1 away win in July 2018.


What to Watch

Busan midfielder Lee Rae-jun is suspended following his red card in the Jeonnam game last weekend. Losing him in the midfield directly contributed to Busan losing 1-0 in that match, as too much space given up in the middle of the park allowed the assist to happen. If that red card had not occurred then Busan could have turned it into another high scoring affair, which has been their trademark this season. 22 goals have been scored in their matches, giving them an average of almost three goals per game. If they can find a good replacement for Lee and resist another sending off, then this could be another high scoring encounter.

If there are going to be multiple goals then they probably will all come from Busan. As leaky as their defence is, it has yet to face an attack as weak as Bucheon's. Park Chang-jun remains their only goalscorer in the league this season, and his absence in recent matches has left them looking out of options. Their main alternative Crislan has not scored a league goal for a couple of years now, and none of the Korean players have ever been prolific. This does not mean the tactics will change, however, as Bucheon have lined up with a 3-4-3 formation in every match this season and there has been very little rotation amongst the match day squad. 

The club's Japanese signing Wataru Murofushi has only played one half of football, while several of last year's key players such as Cho Soo-chul and Kim Kang-san have yet to make an appearance in the league. Surely results can only change if there is some degree of experimentation, but it looks they are focusing on trying to perfect one specific style of play. Whether they have time to do so to recover their season is the big issue. It is possible that Busan legend Han Ji-ho might turn out for Bucheon, though with only 150 minutes played across three matches, that could easily fail to happen.

Who to Watch

Busan possess the league's top scorer An Byong-jun, who currently leads the scoring charts with four goals this season. All of his goals this season have come in the last five matches and in that time he has only been kept out by Ansan Greeners, who have the joint second best defence in the league, and Jeonnam Dragons, who have the best defence in the league. Meanwhile Bucheon not only have the worst attack in K League 2, they also have the second worst defence in the division, and have conceded four times as many goals as they have scored. This means An has a great opportunity to extend his lead in his hunt for a second consecutive Golden Boot win before facing much more in-form opponents Gimcheon Sangmu and Daejeon Hana Citizen in the next two matches. Bucheon can only really take hope from the fact An has only managed to score once against Bucheon, and they will hope they can keep him out again on Sunday.

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