As we enter the unbearably hot summer months and Seongnam fans begin to hugely regret influencing the club owners to go down the ‘all-black’ route things are also heating up in the Classic. Last weekend witnessed Seoul losing three in a row, Jeonbuk continued to flatter to deceive and Pohang crept into the top six for the first time this season. The Bluewings lost again and sit precariously just above the danger zone. This weekend sees the second Suwon derby as well as huge ‘six-pointers’ at Tancheon and Seoul. The race for the ACL spots is really heating up.
Saturday July 9th 2016:
Gwangju vs. Incheon United (7pm)
The first ‘six-pointer’ of the weekend sees Gwangju host Incehon in a match that could see the visitors leapfrog Suwon Bluewings albeit for 24hrs. Gwangju will be hoping to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat at home to Pohang in a match which they lost 1-0. They have only won one of the last five matches which is a low return considering how well they have performed at times. Incheon United seem to have turned the corner and are now one of the league’s form sides and have managed to pull themselves off the bottom of the table with three wins in the last five with last week’s last gasp victory over Jeju undoubtedly the highlight. Gwangju won the last encounter between the sides with a 90th minute goal from Kim Min Hyeok separating the teams. This one could also be a tight affair.
Prediction: Home win : Gwangju 1 – Incheon 0
Jeonnam vs. Jeju United (7pm)
If there was a competition for who has the lowest confidence in the league it would be tough to split these two as both are having a poor run of form. First up is Jeonnam who have simply looked like a little lost boy in the IFC Mall at times this year. Two defeats in a row (three in the last four) has seem them fall into the play-off spot and deservedly so. The departure of both Stevo and Orsic has hit them hard and even when they have the ball these days they look devoid of any craft and guile. They lost at home last week to Seongnam and rarely looked a threat in that match. Similarly Jeju, after a great run of form, have fallen by the wayside and have now only recorded one victory in five. They have looked a shadow of the team that romped to a 4-3 victory in Seoul last month. The recent poor run has seen them drop out of the Champions League spots and they will need to turn things around pretty quickly if they are to keep that as their goal for this season. Jeju won easily the last time the teams met and have recorded the lion’s share of the victories down the years.
Prediction: Away Win : Jeonnam 1 – Jeju 2
FC Seoul vs. Ulsan Hyundai (7pm)
The last match on Saturday pits 2nd place FC Seoul against 3rd place Ulsan in what is probably the tie of the round and is truly a ‘six-pointer’. Seoul yet again lost ground on league leaders Jeonbuk last weekend as they notched up their third defeat in a row. They are without the prolific Adriano who is currently on match 2 of a six game ban for violent conduct after being sent off against Seongnam. Without their lead man up front they look a shadow of the team that was scoring for fun earlier in the year and it is indeed that initial flurry of goals which is keeping them second in the league. Ulsan are currently level on points with Seoul and have won three of their last four Classic matches. They have been impressive over the course of that run, the Pohang rout not included, and came from a goal behind against the Bluewings last weekend to win 2-1 in the 95th minute, a goal from debutante Frederic Mendy clinching the win. Seoul have defeated Ulsan 2-1 the last three times the teams have met, is the tide about to turn?
Prediction: Draw : Seoul 1 – Ulsan 1
Sunday July 10th 2016:
Jeonbuk Hyundai vs. Pohang Steelers (7pm)
Our first match on Sunday should be a cracker as league leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai host a resurgent Pohang team that have won three in a row and look to be finding form at the perfect time of the season. Jeonbuk come into this game as the only remaining undefeated side in the Classic this season and a record-breaking side at that. That being said though they have drawn half of their games and haven’t exactly looked like Champions. Much has been made of Choi’s rotation policy and you get the feeling that there’s no smoke without fire where this is concerned. Much of Pohang’s recent success seems to stem from the performances of Yang Dong Hyun who has been electric of late. He’s scored in their last three matches and has been involved in the build-up to everything they have created. They have also strengthened their squad with a bit of muscle and dig in the middle of the park and you have to think that the second half of 2016 is going to make for pleasant viewing for the Steelers. Pohang haven’t lost in their last five matches against Jeonbuk, that run might just continue a little longer.
Prediction: Draw : Jeonbuk 1 – Pohang 1
Seongnam FC vs. Sangju Sangmu (7pm)
Seongnam welcome the Army to Fortress Tancheon on Sunday in what is another match with the potential to see big changes in the league table come 9pm. Seongnam continued their recent good run with a 1-0 victory over Jeonnam last weekend, Tiago scoring a world-class goal in which he beat four players before curling the ball past the keeper. Most Seongnam fans have given up on the title and an ACL spot is the main and most realistic aim. They come into this match brimming with confidence and firmly in the belief that with Tiago and Hwang Uijo they can score in every match. Sangju, in 6th, beat FC Seoul last weekend 2-1 to record their fourth win in five. They have been a joy to watch at times and have fully deserved their place at the top table this year. They have played an attacking cavalier style of football which does leave them open at the back and it will be this space that Seongnam will look to exploit as much as possible. It was a five goal thriller last time the teams met, expect more fireworks again this weekend.
Prediction: Home Win : Seongnam 2 – Sangju 0
Suwon Bluewings vs. Suwon FC (7pm)
The weekend’s final game is the second Suwon Derby of the season and is at the home of the Bluewings as the ‘big boys’ welcome their City rivals. Bluewings have finished runners-up the past couple of years but there is more chance of AOA returning my texts than that happening this year. They have had a disastrous season and after their defeat last weekend their fans finally snapped and blocked the team bus leaving Ulsan, demanding that manager Seo Jun Won come out and apologize/explain the defeat. They have signed Johnathon who tore the Challenge league up last year and if he can gel quickly with Santos they might just save their season. Suwon FC started the season brightly but are languishing at the bottom of the league with only the single win in the last fifteen. They have made a lot of moves in the transfer window recently and they looked a better side against Jeonbuk last weekend. You do feel however that the step up in divisions has been just a little too much for them this year. The Bluewings won the last time they met, it’s going to be tough for Suwon FC to get revenge for that defeat.
Prediction: Home Win : Bluewings 2 – Suwon 1