The rivalry between Jeonbuk Hyundai and Ulsan Hyundai, the biggest rivals of professional soccer K League 1, has already begun. Ahead of the 2023 season, they are foreshadowing a hotter ‘Hyundai Derby’ with a storm recruitment.

Last year, Ulsan laughed. Ulsan, which has not won the league since 2005, has been runner-up for three consecutive seasons since the 2019 season, earning the stigma of ‘Junsan (runner-up + Ulsan)’. However, in 2022, it beat Jeonbuk, the’opponent’, early on and wore a third star in 17 years.

Jeonbuk, which stood at the top of the league for five consecutive years, maintained its pride by winning the Korea Football Association (FA) Cup. In the new season, he is determined to recapture the throne lost to Ulsan and at the same time fulfill his dream of a treble (League + FA Cup + Champions League).

The winter for both teams is hot. Jeonbuk strengthened the somewhat loose second line by embracing Lee Dong-jun and Amano Jun (Japan) from Ulsan. In addition, they strengthened the midfield by recruiting Lee Soo-bin and Kim Gun-woong. In order to replace goalkeeper Song Bum-keun, who left for J-League Shonan Bellmare, Jung Min-ki, the top goalkeeper of the K-League 2, was transfused.

Ulsan, which is trying to defend its title, is also working hard to reinforce its squad. He signed a new contract with Lee Cheong-yong, who won the K-League 1 MVP last season. He also embraced Sweden’s prestigious Hammarbi IF duo Gustav Rubiksson and Daryan Boyanich (above Sweden). The two worked hand-to-hand in the last three seasons in Hammarbi. This is why public expectations are high.

What we need to pay attention to is the joining of Lee Dong-jun and Joo Min-gyu. The two are evaluated as top strikers on the domestic stage. Lee Dong-jun returned to Korea after experiencing a bitter taste at Hertha Berlin in the German Bundesliga, but Jeonbuk invested 700,000 euros (estimated, 930 million won) in transfer fees. Joo Min-kyu is recognized as the best goal scorer in Korea.

The moves of the two, who are likely to be the core of both teams, are opposite. Lee Dong-jun, who grew up at K League 2 Busan I-Park, joined Ulsan in 2021 and became the best winger in K League 1. At that time, he played 32 league games and played an MVP-level performance, scoring 11 goals and 4 assists. He stepped on the German stage with his performance at this time.

His return team was Jeonbuk’s ‘rival’, not ‘parent’. Jeonbuk, which uses the flanks as their main attack route, needed young blood. Lee Dong-jun, who is a Junjok and has a good reputation in mass-producing attack points, is likely to match well with Jeonbuk.

K-League commentator Kim Hyeong-beom said, “Jeonbuk lacked players with the speed to completely break the side. We needed a player with destructive power in a one-on-one fight, and Lee Dong-jun’s joining will be able to fill it.”

Joo Min-gyu reunited with his ‘parent’ Ulsan. Having been active in Ulsan for a year from 2019, he played 28 league games at the time and scored 5 goals and 5 assists. At that time, an outstanding striker named Junio ​​(Brazil) was holding out in Ulsan. Ju Min-gyu did not see the light of day in Ulsan and headed to Jeju United.

He peaked his career in Jeju. Joo Min-gyu scored 22 league goals in the 2021 season and became the K-League 1 scorer. Last year, he tied with Cho Kyu-seong (Jeonbuk), who received the most goals (17 goals). As it is a proven resource on the domestic stage, it is expected that there will be no problem adapting to Ulsan.

Commentator Kim Hyeong-beom said, “Ulsan has a variety of options in the front with Joo Min-gyu. When you are pulled by the opponent, when you encounter a team with a one-sided defense, you need another option. In this regard, Jumin-gyu will have sufficient tactical value.”

The goal of the two starting a new challenge is ‘winning’. Lee Dong-jun, wearing a green uniform, said, “I will do my best for Jeonbuk fans. I will definitely lift the trophy, which is the goal of the club.” Joo Min-gyu also said, “I have already tasted the glory and growth as an individual. Glory and record as a team is the ultimate goal this season 스포츠토토. I will do my best for Ulsan to win the championship for the second year in a row.”

Jeonbuk and Ulsan are still looking for additional reinforcements. The two teams can add one more foreign player each according to the foreign limit (six) that changes in the new season. As the squad competitiveness of the two teams increases, the 2023 ‘Hyundai Family Derby’ is expected to become more intense.

Jeonbuk will depart for Spain on the 16th and Ulsan will depart for Portugal on the 21st to begin preparations for the 2023 season.

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