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Playoff Preview: Busan IPark vs. Suwon FC

league 2023.12.04   I   hits 347

The 2023 Hana 1Q K League Promotion-Relegation Playoffs begin this Wednesday. In leg one of Playoff 1, Busan IPark take on Suwon FC looking to make amends for missing out on automatic promotion on the final day. Suwon, meanwhile, will be keen to make the most of their second chance having avoided automatic relegation on the final day.

Overview & Match Information

Fixture: Busan IPark vs. Suwon FC
Competition: 2023 Hana 1Q K League Promotion-Relegation Playoff, Leg 1
Date: Wednesday 5th December 2023, 19:00 KST
Venue: Busan Asiad Stadium

Revenge eight years in the making? Suwon FC relegated Busan IPark in 2015, winning over two legs in the playoffs that year. It was Suwon FC's first promotion to the top flight and Busan's first relegation. Suwon have been down and up again since, likewise Busan. But this is a re-match eight years in the making. 

Suwon FC survived automatic relegation on the final day and did so by the skin of their collective teeth. Against Jeju United, a Lee Young-jae free-kick in the 51st minute cancelled out former Suwon midfielder Kim Geon-woong's early opener to earn the point needed to just stay above the Bluewings. Busan find themselves in the playoffs after a 1-1 draw at home to Chungbuk Cheongju and Gimcheon Sangmu's 1-0 win over Seoul E-Land on the final day. The two swapped places in the table.

Away goals no longer count in these K League playoff ties so if the score is level at the end of the second leg then the game will head into extra time and, if needed, a penalty shootout. Suspensions from red cards or yellows in the regular season don't carry over to the playoffs but any red cards picked up in the playoffs would mean a suspension for the second leg.

Recent Form

Hosts Busan IPark are now two games without a win having lost 3-0 to Jeonnam Dragons in Round 38 before drawing on the final day at home to Chungbuk Cheongju. Prior to this mini-blip, Park Jin-sub's men had been on a nine-match unbeaten run with seven wins and, going back further, had lost one in 14. At home, Busan are unbeaten since July, 10 matches ago, winning seven and drawing two since.

The K League 1 side in this fixture Suwon FC are without a win in nine matches, since the 1-0 victory away to Daejeon on September 1st. Kim Do-kyun's side have picked up just four points from a possible 27 available, losing five. 

Busan IPark: DWWLD


Busan IPark haven't lost against Suwon FC since August 2018, seven meetings ago in all competitions. The most recent encounter came in the FA Cup round of 16 with IPark's Park Jong-woo scoring the game's only goal on 76 minutes.

Wednesday's clash at the Asiad will be the first K League meeting between the two teams since October 2019. Busan came out on top on that occasion, sealing a 2-0 home win thanks to goals from Lee Jeong-hyeop and Rômulo from the spot, despite having 10 men for over an hour with Šušnjar shown a straight red card on 31 minutes. That year, Busan won three of the four meetings and avoided defeat.

However, the most memorable meetings between the two came in the 2015 playoffs. Suwon won the first leg 1-0 with Jung Min-woo finding an 85th-minute winner to make it advantage Suwon heading into the second leg. The return fixture at the Gudeok a few days later ended 2-0 to Suwon with Lim Seung-taek and Japa on the scoresheet late in the second half.

All in all, there have been 16 previous encounters with Busan winning four, Suwon FC five, and four draws. 

Playoff Records

Both teams have history in the playoffs, both have won promotion through K League's gripping and unpredictable post-season competition. Busan have been in the playoffs four times before, three times as the K League 2 team looking to win promotion. In fact, the south coast side made it to the final stage of the playoffs three years in a row between 2017 and 2019. Busan were relegated via the playoffs in 2015 but then returned to K League 1 by beating Nakdong River Derby rivals Gyeongnam FC in 2019. The first leg at home ended 0-0 but a Rômulo penalty in the 78th minute of the second leg broke the deadlock before Novothny put the tie beyond doubt in the 95th minute. Busan had tried to go up via the playoffs in 2017 but lost on penalties to Sangju Sangmu after a 1-1 draw on aggregate.

Suwon have won promotion via the playoffs twice in fact, beating Busa 3-0 on aggregate in 2015 and 2020 thanks to a dramatic late penalty from An Byong-jin against Gyeongnam in a one-and-done one leg affair. Suwon have been relegated from K League 1 once before but did so automatically in 2016 and not via the playoffs.

First Leg History

The K League promotion-relegation playoffs are in their 11th year in 2023. In the nine ties between a K League 2 and a K League 1 team, the side which won the first leg has gone on to win the tie overall on six occasions. On four occasions this was the K League 2 team (Sangju 2013, Gwangju 2014, Suwon FC 2015, Daejeon 2022). 

Only on one occasion has the K League 2 team won the first leg and gone on to lose the tie, that being Daejeon in 2021 with Gangwon roaring back to overturn a one-goal deficit to win the second leg 4-1. 

The first three years of the playoffs saw the K League 2 team win the first leg and then go on to win promotion. For the first four years, the K League 2 team went on to win the tie overall but in 2017 and 2018 the K League 1 teams were able to avoid relegation (Sangju and FC Seoul). Busan made sure it wasn't a third year in a row of this happening.

Who to Watch

Bruno Lamas, Busan IPark

Bruno Lamas' tears upon the final whistle following Busan IPark's 1-1 draw with Chungbuk Cheongju on the final day of the K League 2 season said it all; Busan had come so agonisingly close to winning promotion. Lamas had missed a golden opportunity in the first half, just minutes before Gimcheon took the lead 182 kilometers away in North Gyeongsang. The former Daegu FC attacking midfielder will be looking to make amends in the playoffs. He sits fourth in the league for combined goals and assists with 17 from an xGA of 14.3 (2nd). With 10 goals he's Busan's top scorer this season which is perhaps of little surprise as Lamas has registered the most shots in the division with 103, second-most per 90 minutes with 3.5.

Lee Young-jae, Suwon FC

Looking to avoid relegation for the second year in a row, Suwon FC skipper Lee Young-jae scored what turned out to be a vital goal last time out against Jeju. Lee's 51st-minute free kick curled into the top corner to make it 1-1 and earn the point needed to avoid automatic relegation. Lee returned from Gimcheon this summer following the completion of his military service and soon after was given the captain's armband. After returning from injury in August, Lee has been ever-present for Suwon FC. He's managed to score one and assist two since the split and will be looked upon for inspiration from midfield against Busan. Lee was part of the Gimcheon side that lost to Daejeon in 2022 and so will be hoping to avoid a repeat of that with his parent club.

Where to Watch

Follow the match LIVE, for FREE, and in HD with English commentary on TV.KLeague.com.