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Tangerines Welcome League Leaders This Weekend

It seems there is no end in sight for Jeju United's current woes as they continue to slide down the table with each passing week.  Things will not get much easier as they face league leaders Ulsan Hyundai this weekend at home.  Ulsan currently have a five point lead at the top of the K League 1 table but second place Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors have two matches in hand, so Hong Myung-bo's men know they cannot leave anything to chance against the islanders.  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to the encounter.

Match: Jeju United vs Ulsan Hyundai
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday August 14th, 2021; 20:00 KST

Recent Form

Islanders Scrape a Draw Versus Bluewings

In what was a mostly uneventful match, Jeju United drew 0-0 with Suwon Samsung Bluewings last weekend.  Jeju had most of the possession in the first half but could not make it count.  Despite needing to step up their performance in the second half, they were largely unable to do so.  Thankfully for the struggling islanders, Suwon also did not play with much consequence, particularly in the second half and both teams were happy for the final whistle with neither side making a dent on the scoresheet.

Horangi Unbeaten in Three League Matches 

Following a dismal showing against Suwon FC on the back of their Asian Champions League group stage campaign, Hong Myung bo's men have rebounded to go unbeaten in their last three matches in the league, including back to back 2-1 wins over Daegu FC and Gangwon FC.  They also know that there is no time to take their foot off the pedal, knowing that Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors are lurking close behind with two matches in hand going into the weekend.

Ulsan have taken four of a possible six points from the tie this season, with the first match between the two ending in a goalless draw, while Ulsan won the second encounter by a score of 2-1 thanks to goals from Lee Dong-jun and Kim Ji-hyun, who netted the winner from the spot in the first minute of second half stoppage time.

Team News

Jeju United

Manager Nam Ki-il expressed his disappointment following the goalless draw at Suwon, stressing the team's inability to score, which has been a common theme during the course of the current winless streak.

"We have been creating chances in most matches but we have been unable to score.  It's come to a point where we are now conceding goals because of it and it has left the team shaken.  I will overcome it with my players and we will prepare well for the match" [against Ulsan], he said.

Ahn Hyun-beom will not be available for the foreseeable future because of a knee injury.
Things remain unchanged on the injury front as Ahn Hyun-beom will remain out of action for the time being with a knee injury, while Lee Jung-moon's estimated return to the squad is still up in the air.  Hong Joon-ho played the final few minutes against Suwon in place of Kwon Han-jin and he may be in line for more playing time, especially if Jeju decides to switch up its defensive tactics and revert to a back four.  Lee Dong-ryul may keep his place in the starting eleven for the time being in the U-22 role, but Kim Bong-soo should still see his share of minutes in the matches ahead.

Ulsan Hyundai

Ulsan Hyundai's regulars will be well rested ahead of the weekend as most of the second string players played in the midweek FA Cup match against Yangju Citizen.  Yun Il-lok made his debut for the club after signing as a free agent following the end of his contract with Ligue 1 side Montpellier and scored the Horangi's first goal in a 2-0 win.  He will likely be an option from the bench and may even see his first league action on Saturday night.

There are not expected to be many changes from the side which faced Gangwon FC last weekend, meaning that Kim Kee-hee and Dave Bulthuis will commandeer the back line, and Won Du-jae and Lee Dong-gyeong will patrol the midfield.  There could be a decision to make regarding who will lead the line with Kim Ji-hyun and Lukas Hinterseer the likely candidates.  Lee Dong-jun should take his spot on the right in attack after coming on as a substitute in the cup tie.

What to Watch

How Will Jeju Cope With Ulsan's Counter?

The islanders will have to approach their match with Ulsan with a bit of concern as their defensive record has been spotty at times this season.  The back three of Kim Oh-gyu, Kwon Han-jin, and Jung Woon will have to be at their very best to deal with the Horangi's tendency to attack on the counter in waves.  If Lee Dong-jun does indeed get the start, he will be a constant threat on the right but Jung Woo-jae will also be a defensive asset in that regard and will be able to provide cover when necessary.

Yoon Bit-garam is a creative presence in the middle for Ulsan.
Ulsan have a lot of scoring options at their disposal.  One which stands out for them is former Jeju midfielder Yoon Bit-garam, who has the ability to do it all - distribute the ball, score, and be a danger from set pieces.  His physical capabilities notwithstanding, it is also his leadership on the pitch which will be a key factor to Ulsan's overall style of play as it has been all season.  If he is in the mood, which is usual, Ulsan could run away if they manage an early goal.

Who to Watch

Dave Bulthuis - Ulsan Hyundai

Dave Bulthuis can be a force at both ends of the pitch.
The Dutchman has been a shutdown defender since coming to the K League from Heerenveen in the Dutch league in January 2019 and makes up one-half of arguably the best central defense pairing in the division with the aforementioned Kim Kee-hee.  He was a key factor in Ulsan's Asian Champions League success last season and will continue to be as he and his teammates' chase their first league crown since 2005.

He has made all but two starts this season in the league and can be a threat from set pieces in the opponent's defensive third as his three goals this season will attest to thanks to his heading ability, with his most memorable strike coming against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in a 4-2 victory back in May.  With the gap at the top of the standings getting smaller, his role in Saturday's match will prove to be even more important.


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