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Playoff Preview: Suwon FC vs. Busan IPark

notice 2023.12.07   I   hits 539

Saturday sees the Suwon FC host Busan IPark in the second leg of the 2023 Hana 1Q K League Promotion-Relegation Playoff  1. Can Busan, with a 2-1 aggregate lead, seal a return to the promised land, or will Suwon FC roar back to secure a place in K League 1 for next season?

Match Information & Overview

Fixture: Suwon FC vs. Busan IPark
Competition: 2023 Hana 1Q K League Promotion-Relegation Playoff, Leg 2
Date: Saturday 9th December 2023, 14:00 KST
Venue: Suwon Civic Stadium

It all comes down to this pivotal second leg at Castle Park. Anything but a win will mean relegation for Suwon FC after a three-year stay back in K League 1 while Busan just need to avoid defeat to win promotion after three years in the second tier. Away goals do not count and if the tie is level after 90 minutes then extra time will be played followed by penalties if necessary.

Suwon will be aiming to do what only one team has done before as Gangwon FC in 2021 are the only team to have come back from a first-leg loss to win the promotion-relegation playoffs and survive relegation. 

First Leg & Recent Form

The first leg ended in a 2-1 win for Busan IPark thanks to two late penalties by Bruno Lamas. Suwon FC took the lead in the first half with Jang Jae-woong firing into the bottom corner two minutes before the interval. Busan 'keeper Koo Sang-min might feel as though he could have done better but his blushes were spared late in the second half as Brazilian star Bruno Lamas tucked away not one but two penalties. 

The first came in the 84th minute with Lee Seung-woo adjudged to have brought down Lee Seung-gi. Lee Seung-woo was shown a second yellow card for his troubles and sent off; Lamas then sends the 'keeper the wrong way. The second penalty came in the 99th minute with Lachlan Jackson adjudged to have impeded Kim Jeong-hwan. Lamas stepped up again and sent the 'keeper the wrong way but this time opting for bottom left, not bottom right.

Suwon FC are now on a run of 10 matches without a win with six losses while Busan have just one loss in 12.


Team News

Lee Seung-woo is suspended following his red card in the first leg. Busan, meanwhile, will be hoping that Fessin has recovered from the muscle injury that kept him out of the first leg.


Busan IPark haven't lost against Suwon FC since August 2018, now eight meetings ago in all competitions. Wednesday's clash at the Asiad was 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 17 previous encounters with Busan winning five, Suwon FC five, and four draws. 

What to Watch

Busan's game management & Suwon's reaction

Busan have a 2-1 aggregate lead so just need to avoid defeat to win the tie and earn. Suwon, though, simply have to win if they want to survive relegation. The dynamics of the tie will impact on how each team approaches the second leg. Will Busan sit back and protect what they have, or will they go for the jugular and look to finish the tie off once and for all? Suwon FC have to attack but will they look to keep things tight in the first 45 and then go for it in the second half, or will they fly straight out of the traps?

An indicator might be when these teams tend to score goals. Busan score most of theirs in the second half (29 of 50, 31 of 52 including playoff first leg). Suwon, meanwhile, from 37 goals scored in the league, 25 came in the second half. The first half of this second leg, then, could well be somewhat cagey before the contest opens up in the second half. Another indicator is how the teams protect leads or come back from behind. Busan have taken the lead 23 times this season and gone on to win 20 matches and draw two, losing just once. Suwon have gone behind on 23 occasions this season, going on to win two, draw three, and lose 18. 

Who to Watch

Ricardo Lopes, Suwon FC

With Lee Seung-woo suspended, the role played by Ricardo Lopes has become that little bit more important. The former Jeju and Jeonbukwinger has scored three for Suwon this term. He came close to making it four or even five on Wednesday night as both of his attempted shots found the target. He made one key pass, 50% of his attempted dribbles were successful, he made three progressive runs, and 67% accuracy for passes to the final third, likewise for passes into the box. But what Lopes can offer is big game experience having won domestic and continental titles with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. 

Bruno Lamas, Busan IPark

After a scintillating and determined display in the first leg, it's hard to look past Bruno Lamas as the one to watch in the second. The former Daegu man will grab the headlines for the brace he scores but his all-round performance was inspired. Even after drawing level late on, Lamas kept going and was still trying to find those defense-unlocking passes. In fact, it was his clever ball through to Kim Jeong-hwan that led to Busan winning their second penalty of the night. His passing accuracy was at 76% overall, 80% for passes to the final third and 50% for passes into the penalty area, and registered two key passes. Successful dribbles?

Where to Watch

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