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Seoul E-Land Vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings: The Second Tier Super Match

Once the K League fixtures come out at the end of each winter, FC Seoul and Suwon Samsung Bluewings fans eagerly anticipate the dates of one game in particular. The Super match as it has been billed as for many years, is the game between the Bluewings and FC Seoul. A classic, Seoul Vs Suwon neighbour rivalry. A game which has kindled over geographical location, success, and fan passion. 

With that being said, something will be missing from the 2024 K League 1. With the Bluewing's shock relegation from the top tier last season, this year, they will be competing in the K League 2. That in turn might mean that the classic FC Seoul Vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings game is no longer available this year. Yet, it is important to note that there is another Seoul team lurking in the K League 2. Will this Sunday be the start of a new rivalry, and a second-tier Super Match as Seoul E-Land welcomes Suwon Samsung Bluewings to Leoul Park? Michael Redmond takes a look at this one.  

Match Details 

Match: Seoul E-Land Vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings
Date: Sunday, 10th March 2024
Time: 2PM Seoul, 12PM Bangkok, 5AM Manchester 
Venue: Leoul Park (Mokdong Stadium), Seoul, Korea 

Off To Winning Ways

Round 1 saw Suwon welcome Chungnam Asan to the Big Bird in what would be their first season in the K League 2. Regardless of their fall from grace, 14,196 spectators made their way on a cold Saturday afternoon to watch this tie. They were facing Asan, a side who finished 10th in the K League 2 last season and would have loved to have caused an upset in the opening round of the year. 

Suwon had other ideas, and it took them 21 minutes to record their first goal in the division. Mulić was the man on the scoresheet. A well-placed cross from Lee Sang-min saw the Serbian stay onside and for the ball to perfectly land to him, tapping it into the net. 

It looked like it would be a perfect start to life in the second tier for Suwon. However, the first half did come with a setback for the home side. in the 37th minute, Jo Yun-seong, who was an Asan player last year, brought down Juniho Rocha. In what was originally a yellow card, VAR came into play. It was established that Jo Yun-seong was the last man and his booking was upgraded to a straight red. 

The red card did not seem to upset the Bluewings too much however as in the 5th minute of injury time of the first half, Mulić doubled his goal tally and the lead. In what was an outstanding freekick from a long-range, we may already have a goal-of-the-month contender. 

The second half saw a slight Asan comeback and they were able to pull one back in the 68th minute. An unmarked Jeong Ma-ho was able to slot the ball into the side netting. This brought a nervy 22 remaining minutes of the game for Suwon, however, they were able to hold on and recorded their first win of what will be many for the side in the K League 2. 

Full Time: Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2-1 Chungnam Asan

Seoul E-Land started off their season down by the coast as they took on Busan IPark in the first game of the season. In a repeat of the opening game in 2021. Seoul would have been more than happy to repeat the scoreline of that game as they came out 3-0 victors three years before. In a brand new Seoul E-Land set-up, it took the Leopards only five minutes to get onto the scoreline and in true dramatic fashion, it was Osmar with the goal. After 10 seasons at FC Seoul, it took the Spanish defender only minutes to record his first goal for E-Land. 

Seoul dominated this game and they looked confident in their play. It was reminiscing of the 2020 season when they played with pride and confidence. It looked as if Seoul were well prepared and Busan were still thinking about the misfortune of the season prior. With that being said, Busan had a chance to equalize in the game. 

In the 80th minute, Park Se-jin was taken down by Lee Dong-ryul in the penalty box. The referee initially pointed to the spot, yet VAR had other plans. It was revealed that Park Se-jin was offside when being fed the ball and the decision was overturned for a freekick to Seoul E-Land. 

With the final ten minutes now truly underway, Seoul decided to put its foot on the gas once more. With eight minutes of stoppage time, the Leopards had other ideas than to just keep the ball. In the 95th minute, Bruno Silva crossed the ball over to Byeon Gyung-jun who curled in a shot from the edge of the area. Seoul now had doubled its lead.

Now high and dry, Seoul continued to dig into Busan and recorded their third with the last kick of the game. The goal scorer now turned into a provider as Gyung-jun crossed the ball to Park Min-seo to record another famous victory against IPark. In what was a repeat of their win in 2021, Seoul went their first five games that year with a 100% record. They would be more than happy to continue repeating the efforts of 2021 if it means taking down Suwon next week. 

Full Time: Busan IPark 0-3 Seoul E-Land 


The Osmar Effect?

It may be the first time that Seoul E-Land will meet with Suwon Samsung Bluewings, but this certainly is not the first time for Osmar. The former FC Seoul defender is no stranger to the fixture as this will be the 33rd time Osmar has come up against Suwon. 30 of those occasions in the K League with two of the games being in the FA Cup final. Osmar managed to even be on the score sheet in the fixture once before. 

Two teams who know little about one another, Osmar may be the deciding factor in this fixture due to his knowledge of how the Bluewings perform in big games. Suwon needs to prove to their fans that they still take the art of football seriously and will not want to slip up against Seoul. For the Leopards, they would love to continue their great start to the season. 

Suwon have the firepower up front to cause damage in the league this year and it will be Osmar's role next week to make sure that they stay quiet at the top of the field. If Osmar can recreate his first goal for Seoul on Sunday, it would be perfect, however, Osmar may need to sit back a little more in this fixture and command his line well with his experience. It was noted that Osmar played in the CM role against Busan and was successful in helping the flow of the game for Seoul. A win against IPark is a good start, but they will need to continue to build from there on in if they mean business this year.   

The Perfect Start?

For Seoul E-Land, they played 90 minutes of football,  recorded a clean sheet, three goals, and no cautions. It has been said many times not to change a winning team. However, we did see Seoul make their first change in the 17th minute, taking off U22 player Jo Yong-gwang for Park Jeong-in. This is a move we saw many times before from the manager Kim Do-kyun during his time at Suwon FC. With the manager so intent on making sure his side has five substitutions, will we see the same strategy again against the Bluewings?

All five subs were used against Busan and this was done to keep the tempo of the game in Seoul's favour. With it being the first game of the season, some players may have needed a little more time to get up to full fitness. I believe the boss executed the substitution tactic perfectly and brought on three fresh players in the 73rd minute, giving Seoul that extra boost towards the end. 

Identifying player roles on the pitch further, Peter had a memorable start for Seoul in the game against Busan and Ikoba looked promising on the ball. Both Peter and Bruno Silva assisted in the game and Osmar scored. Could Seoul finally have a set of foreign players who will bring joy to Leoul Park?

Loud and Proud

With Seoul looking like a professional outfit once more in the K League 2, the same will hopefully be replicated off the field with the fans. The Seoul loyal have made a big push in the off-season to promote the atmosphere in the stadium. New fan groups have been established, and new flags can be seen in the stands. 

The fans want to create a fun and joyful atmosphere which is welcoming for spectators to come and watch Seoul play. If success continues on the pitch for the Leopards, then hopefully the attendance will also grow. If these new spectators have a memorable time in the stands due to the new samba style of sound coming from the Seoul faithful, then new fans will be created. 

(Image Via Instagram.com/guncheong_official)
I make a point of the fans this week as they will be up against a tough task when they face Suwon Bluewings. They are one of the best-followed sides in all of Asia, never mind the K League. They more often than not sell out their away allocations and they will bring noise to Mokdong on Sunday. 

Seoul fans will hope that their drums are in tune, their megaphones are fully charged and that their fans are in full voice if they are to compete with the fans of the Bluewings. Hopefully, Seoul's football on the pitch will help in silencing the Suwon fans. 

Replay 2021

As stated before, last week was identical to the start of the 2021 season. I make a point of this because Seoul's second game of that year was against Gimcheon Sangmu. Another side that was playing K League 1 football the season prior. Okay, their situation was a little different as they moved from Sangju to Gimcheon in 2021 which led to their automatic relegation. However, Seoul still went on to beat them 4-0 in Jamsil. 

Would Seoul be able to continue their luck and beat a relegated team in round 2 of the K League? Or will Suwon continue to march back up to the top flight once more? This is more than likely going to be one of the most difficult games of the season for Seoul and if they can take anything from this game, then it would be a success. It is still very early days in the league, but we may be looking back at this fixture come the business end of the season. A win for the Leopards will certainly turn heads and they would hope that they finally have a squad capable of success this year. 

As for myself? I long for a Saturday afternoon game in the sun, so that I can fully enjoy it with my glass bottle of Coca-Cola, lying on the beach, watching the game from my phone. These Sunday games are great viewing before heading back to work the next day, but football on a Saturday is the cherry on the cake. However, on the flip side, if Seoul can play in the K League 2 the same way they did against Busan, than they can play midweek at 5am for all I care.  

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