Cheonan City vs Suwon Samsung: Bluewings smell sweet revenge – K League United

Cheonan City vs Suwon Samsung: Bluewings smell sweet revenge – K League United

The last time Suwon faced Cheonan, Yeom Ki-hun’s disastrous reign had all but stalled. The Bluewings were booed while Cheonan celebrated a famous victory at the home of a former K League top team. Will Cheonan make it two wins from two or can Suwon avenge that miserable night at Bird Bird? K League United will be there to cover all the action.

Game details

To match: Cheonan City FC vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

Date: Saturday, July 13, 2024. 7:30 p.m.

Venue: Cheonan Stadium. Capacity 26,000.

Tickets: Interpark. Prices start at ₩8,000.

Previous balance sheet

Cheonan City FC

Played: 20 Won: 5 Drawn: 6 Lost: 9 Points: 21

Goals for: 23 Goals against: 31

Position: 10.

Suwon Samsung

Played: 19 Won: 7 Drawn: 5 Lost: 7 Points: 26

Goals for: 24 Goals against: 15

Position: 6.

Cheonan City are just four points off last season’s total of 25, underlining their marked improvements this season. They currently sit 10th, four points above last place, but only five points behind their visitors on Saturday. Their home form is a cause for concern; Cheonan are winless in ten games all season, drawing just three and losing four in a row. They were thrashed in Anyang on Tuesday night, despite Bruno Mota making a sensational save just three minutes from the first goal. A win on Saturday would be incredible.

After losing Anyang in April, which left them in first place, the Bluewings went on an extraordinary losing streak and plummeted down the table. The death blow to Yeom Ki-hun’s reign came in Round 15, when the Bluewings gave up a 1-0 lead with five minutes to go and lost 3-1 to Seoul E-Land. Yeom left and Byun Sung-hwan took the hot seat. Since then, Suwon has gone five games unbeaten, but four of them were draws, including against Ansan Greeners. The decline is over, but the Bluewings are not yet back on track.

Byun Sung-hwan needs wins, not draws, if Suwon wants to bring back Anyang FC.

Double Trouble means danger for everyone else

Bruno Mota and Paulinho. Suwon’s backline will likely have nightmares when the Brazilian duo take to the field on Saturday. Mota will be discussed below, so let’s focus on Paulinho. There’s a reason the number 10 has been linked with K League 1 clubs this summer. First and foremost, he would definitely be included in the Bluewings’ lineup if there was a small tactical change. Paulinho is a set piece expert, quick and has an eye for goal. No doubt the Bluewings are already aware of his talent; he will punish Suwon if given the chance.

The question is whether Cheonan will take advantage of their 9 and 10 despite the obvious improvements. Mota has nine goals and three assists in 20 games. Paulinho has seven goals in 15 games. The rest of the team has scored seven goals in total. Cheonan is a team set up for away games. They have the center forward who can score winning goals (Mota) with the speed and finishing ability of his partner (Paulinho). This explains why Cheonan are the second best team away from home – 18 points from 10 games – but the worst team in the country on home soil.

Kim Tae-wan’s side were torn apart in the second half in Anyang on Monday. Mota almost scored the goal of the season, but after that the league leaders were in control. One of the goals came from a defensive error, but the other two were outstanding individual performances. Even if the final score does not look good, Cheonan will feel that an upset is not out of the question if they can limit Suwon’s key players to half-chances and little space. After all, Suwon are terrible away at Big Bird and have not won away for three months.

The decline has stopped, but now it is time to move on

Since taking office in early June, new coach Byun Sung-hwan has had five games to implement his style, which was initially made easier by the opening of the transfer window. Suwon had been quiet on the former, aside from a clever swap of Kazuki Kozuka for Peter Makrillos. For some reason, the Japanese midfielder has not had the impact we expected after some promising performances in K League 1. Makrillos is exactly what they needed: an alert central midfielder who can quickly switch the ball between defense and attack. Sometimes Suwon seem so laborious and monotonous in this facet of the game.

Then on Tuesday, the club announced that it had sold regular players Jeon Jin-woo and Yoo Je-ho to Jeonbuk Hyundai. At the time of writing, only young striker Lee Kyu-song had arrived on loan from Jeonbuk.

Peter Makrillos has been a good signing so far.

Byun has opted for a 4-3-3 formation in the last four games. Goalkeeper and captain Yang Hyeon-mo would always be there, barring injury. Lee Ki-jae, who has returned from the cold, has started four times for the new man. Crucially, a real defensive partnership has emerged in the form of Jo Yoon-sung and Baek Dong-kyu. Previously, the Bluewings were sometimes inconsistent and chaotic. Kim Ju-chan was ever-present on the right side of the front three, but the coach has rotated his centre-forward and midfield options.

Makrillos’ impact has already been discussed, and then there is Kim Bo-kyung, another experienced international who was largely benched under the previous management and was recently nominated for Player of the Month. After sitting out the Ansan game, Kim is expected to return on Saturday, alongside Makrillos and either Lee Jong-seong or Kim Sang-jun. The talent is there to mount a title challenge, but the draws are piling up and Anyang have opened up a significant lead.

Key players

Bruno Mota

Bruno Mota celebrates his winning goal at the Suwon World Cup Stadium in May.

Bruno Mota’s second-half strike decided the May encounter and the hosts will once again rely on the big Brazilian to unsettle the Suwon defence. Mota can play at a higher level, so it’s surprising to see him still toiling away at Cheonan. He reminds me of Daegus Edgar from a few seasons ago; Bruno put the Suwon defence under pressure in Big Bird, coming close to goal with a long shot in the first half and then punishing a chaotic defence and run-back with the winner. Lee Jong-seong, who had fallen asleep at the wheel, didn’t notice Bruno’s presence even when they collided on the edge of the box. Another mistake will result in a goal for Cheonan this weekend.

Suwon needs a motivated and selfless Kim Bo-Kyung to help them move up the table.

Kim Bo-Kyung

After starting on the bench for the costly draw with Ansan Greeners, 35-year-old Kim Bo-kyung is likely to take his place in the starting line-up in Cheonan. The 38-time international has emerged as a key figure under Byun’s early tenure and was nominated for Player of the Month. With Yoo Je-ho now wearing No. 81 in Jeonju, Kim should start alongside Makrillos and one other player. Kim has the experience to lead Suwon to the top of the table, but with some of Suwon’s better-paid (and more experienced) players, the question is do they want to be there; is there a fight in the belly of, say, Kim Bo-kyung and Lee Ki-jae? The verdict is still out.

On that May night

The weather was atrocious the night Cheonan City rolled out of Big Bird with three points in only its second year at this level. The boos that greeted the final whistle were louder than the alarm bells ringing in the bowels of the stadium. Yeom Ki-hun held on for a few more weeks, but he was a dead man and everyone knew it. The fatal blow was delivered by Bruno Mota, Cheonan’s star player. He danced into a goal-scoring position because Lee Jung-seong was caught ball-watching. Suwon’s problems under Yeom were systematic; as we know, they only got worse.


The recent turmoil may not have helped the situation for Big Bird, but the starting XI is good enough to take all three points. With the away field sold out in seconds, the team is under pressure to pick up a long-overdue away win – 83 days after Suwon last won away – but they must contain Cheonan’s attacking pair; a combination more lethal than anything the Bluewings have.

Cheonan City FC – Suwon Samsung 1:2