The games are coming thick and fast and after this midweek we saw Jeonbuk extend their lead, the Bluewings compete with the city rivals for who’s having the worst season, Hwang Sung Hong get off to a losing start at Seoul and Pohang continue to play the Jekyll and Hyde card as they routed in-form Ulsan 4-0 in a match which culminated in protests by the Ulsan fans
This weekend mostly sees the top half of the table take on the bottom half in a string of matches which on paper should be easier to predict than whether Jeremy Corbyn will ever be Prime Minister of the UK. So without any further ado it’s time for Round 18 of the K-League Classic
Saturday July 2nd 2016:
Ulsan Hyundai vs. Suwon Bluewings (7pm)
The first preview this weekend sees Ulsan host Suwon Bluewings in a match which in yesteryear could have been a table-topper but this year is more akin the wallflower in the corner that can’t get a dance! As mentioned above Ulsan were, to be polite, awful mid-week losing 4-0 to “local rivals” Pohang in a performance described by Football Radar expert Miroslav as “looking like Ulsan have given up”. They had been going through something of a resurgence before that gubbing but that has been brought shuddering to a halt. Luckily then that they face Suwon Bluewings who also lost during the week, pushing them ever closer to the relegation battle. The Bluewings have signed ex-Daegu hero Jonathon in a bid to try and resurrect their season, you feel it might also take some brown envelopes to the KFA to see them meet early season predictions. Ulsan won the previous encounter 4-2 and the contest does tend to see goals.
Prediction: Home win : Ulsan 2 – Bluewings 1
Sangju vs. FC Seoul (7pm)
Sangju saw an end to a run of three victories in a row when they rather surprisingly lost during the week away to Incheon, in a match that most would likely have been pegged as an away win for the Army boys. They have been impressive for the most part this season and have notched up a quite remarkable 32 goals so far with Park Ki Dong in particular being a revelation. Seoul also lost during the week at home to Seongnam which was their second defeat on the bounce. Seoul having took the lead conceded two quite slapstick goals before a Pitu free-kick made it 3-1 to Seongnam. There was still time for Adriano to earn a red card for violent conduct and consign new manager Hwang to the worst of debuts. Seoul won the previous fixture 4-0 earlier this season but Sangju were just finding their feet back in the Classic back then, nobody expects a similar scoreline this time around. This is a definitely close one on paper and it’s tough to separate the two.
Prediction: Score Draw : Sangju 1 – Seoul 1
Jeonnam Dragons vs. Seongnam FC (7pm)
Jeonnam are still playing like the footballing equivalent of Russian Roulette and you never have any clue as to what team is going to emerge from the tunnel once the trigger has been pulled. They have won two of their last four but have lost the other two. The news filtering through from their fans is that Stevo has retired from football and Orsic is looking at upping sticks and moving to pastures new which can only lead to more tough times ahead for the Jeonnam faithful. Seongnam on the other hand looked like a completely different team to previous weeks as they came away from Seoul World Cup Stadium with all three points after a resounding 3-1 victory. Tiago continues to have a fantastic debut season and his partnerships with Hwang Uijo and Pitu are more than making up for the absence of Kim Do Heon who has been used sparingly recently. Four of the last five times these teams have met it’s resulted in a draw and it wouldn’t be hugely surprising if this match followed that pattern, but for me I think Seongnam might just edge it.
Prediction: Away Win : Jeonnam 0 – Seongnam 1
Sunday July 3rd 2016:
Incheon United vs. Jeju United (6pm)
Sunday’s early kick-off sees a clash of the “Uniteds” as Incheon welcome Jeju to town in the kind of match that will have the couch-dwelling neutrals searching for their remote controls to see if Super Action is running a repeat of Starship Troopers. Incheon are currently second from bottom but they managed to secure a much needed 3pts by defeating in-form Sangju during the week. That victory was only their third of the season but was their second in four matches which might suggest a reversal of form is on the the cards. Third placed Jeju, who had been flying, have only managed the one win in their last four games and the fact that they drew at home to bottom team Suwon suggests they aren’t quite as strong as many thought. Jeju haven’t had the best of fortunes on their visits to Incheon and haven’t recorded a win there since 2010, in fact four of the last six meetings in Incheon have finished 0-0. Unfortunately that’s a scoreline that could be repeated this time around.
Prediction: Draw : Incheon 0 – Jeju 0
Gwangju vs. Pohang Steelers (7pm)
Much like their Army counterparts Gwangju are also having a good season and midweek returned from the Big Bird with all 3pts in the basket after an impressive 2-0 win over Suwon Bluewings. This was straight after holding Champions Jeonbuk 1-1 in the previous round, Jung Jo Gook again the hero as he rescued a point in the last minute. They are proving a difficult team to break down and with ‘The Patriot’ in their ranks they have a player capable of changing the outcome of any match. Pohang, however, seem to have eventually found the consistency they have been searching for all year, a home victory over Seoul was followed by that demolition of Ulsan and with their new additions including Iraqi internationalist Ali Abbas they might yet be a force this season. Only one point separates the two teams and the last time they met it was a rip-roaring 3-3 draw, with both teams playing well it could be tough to split them.
Prediction: Away Win : Gwangju 0 – Pohang 1
Suwon FC vs. Jeonbuk Hyundai (7pm)
The last game of the weekend sees bottom take on top in a match which on paper could be over quicker than McGregor v Aldo. Suwon, who started so well, finally ended a 5 game losing run by drawing away from home in Jeju on a foggy Wednesday evening. They have looked a far cry from the pressing team which harassed Seongnam to a draw away back in Round 2. They have a goal difference of -17 and while they aren’t quite Daejeon 2015 they are in real danger of seeing themselves making away trips to Gyeongnam and Chungju in 2017. Jeonbuk have now run up a record-breaking seventeen matches unbeaten and while still hugely unimpressive there is no denying that they are the best team in the country. They came from behind against Jeonnam in the Jeolla derby on Wednesday night and it’s exactly that resilience and ‘never-give-up’ attitude that has them sitting clear at the top. Jeonbuk won the last encounter 3-1, few would expect anything other than a repeat again this round.
Prediction: Away Win Suwon 0 – Jeonbuk 2