The K-League Classic 2017 Round 23 Predictions – Saturday Fixtures
It’s been a crazy busy time in the K-League’s top division as we’ve seen midweek games for the last couple of weeks. This sudden flurry of fixtures has seen a slight gap open up at the top of the table as Jeonbuk, Ulsan and Suwon start to put some light between themselves and the chasing pack. We’ve also seen a resurgent Seoul team claw themselves back into the ACL contest just as we’ve seen Pohang free-fall down the table and into the relegation group.
This weekend sees a final round of fixtures before we take a short break in proceedings so moving onto the days action, below are some brief previews and predictions for this Saturdays upcoming clashes.
Gwangju vs. Jeonnam Dragons @ 7pm
The first game of the weekend is between two relegation group teams, as bottom side Gwangju welcome Jeonnam to town. Gwangju have been having a nightmare of late and have now lost three games straight and are in the kind of trouble that most people expected them to be in the last two seasons. In order to bail them out they signed ex-Aberdeen and Celtic player Niall McGinn. He hasn’t really had any time to make an impact but he’ll need to be at his best soon if he is to drag them to safety. It’s not all rosy at Jeonnam either as they haven’t been doing much better with a solitary win in their last five games. They were easily beaten 4-1 at Suwon midweek as they were cut apart time and time again by the pace and guile of Yeom Ki Hun and Johnathan. Jeonnam have won the previous two clashes between the teams and on paper will have the edge, although a huge factor though will be if Jair is fit as he missed out against The Bluewings and they severely need him back.
Prediction: Away Win : Gwangju 1 – Jeonanm 2
Ulsan Hyundai vs. Incheon United @ 7pm
The second game of the day is a tussle between two teams having hugely contrasting seasons as high flying Ulsan and struggling Incheon United clash. Ulsan have won their last three games on the bounce although they haven’t exactly been against the toughest of opposition. Their last defeat was to league leaders Jeonbuk when they were royally spanked 4-0. Even though they sit 2nd in the table they have a goal difference of -1 which goes to prove that they are not exactly solid at the back, or consistent. Incheon come into the match after being hammered during the week as they fell 5-1 to FC Seoul, yet again. Reports from that match suggest that Incheon were pretty horrendous at the back throughout and will need to tighten up against a team like Ulsan if they are to avoid another heavy defeat. These sides played at the end of last month when Incheon ran out 2-1 winners, a repeat for them today would tend to be unlikely.
Prediction: Home Win : Ulsan 2 – Incheon 0
Jeju United vs. Pohang Steelers @ 7pm
The final game on Saturday comes from Jeju and is between Jeju United and Pohang Steelers in a match which only a few months ago was a table topping clash. Jeju still seem to be struggling to find any real consistency although they have won two of their last three games but this was a team that at the start of the season looked real title contenders. They bounced back from losing at home to Seoul by defeating Sangju 3-0 away, Yoon Bitgaram netting his first goal since returning from China. Pohang, on the other hand have been dismal of late and have now lost their last three games, including a shock 3-0 defeat to 10th place Daegu midweek. They also brought back a former hero in the shape of Kim Seung Dae but you get the feeling it will take more than that to hoist them back up the table. Both teams have won their home clashes this season, could we see the same again?
K League Classic 2017 Round 16 Previews (Sunday June 25th)
Yesterday’s matches produced a couple of hugely unpredictable results as we had victory for Incheon as they earned a huge 3 points down in Ulsan and a pretty comprehensive thumping for Pohang as they left Jeju on the end of a 3-0 battering. It also seen Jeonnam run out 2-1 victors in their match against Gwangju, Jair converting a penalty to secure the points.
Moving onto the day’s action and it’s time for some brief previews and predictions for this Sunday’s clashes.
Suwon Bluewings vs. Gangwon @ 6pm
The first game on Sunday evening is between Suwon Bluewings and Gangwon as 6th welcomes 5th to town in a match that will really test Gangwon’s credentials as a serious ACL contender. The Bluewings have been erratic of late having only won three from five losing to rivals Jeonbuk and more importantly Seoul in recent weeks. They have struggled to find any consistency and main striker Johnathon really needs to start playing less for himself and more for the team if they are to mount a title challenge. Gangwon, who had looked deadly of late, crashed to a crushing 4-1 defeat to Jeonbuk during the week which brought their five game winning run to a shuddering halt. They spent a lot of money during the close season and it will be interesting to see what they do now the summer transfer window has opened. Suwon won 2-1 earlier in the season but that was away from home where their best form seems to be.
Prediction: Score Draw : Bluewings 1 – Gangwon 1
FC Seoul vs. Sangju Sangmu @ 7pm
The second game of the day is a mid-table clash between FC Seoul and Sangju Sangmu in a match which has a draw written all over it before I even start to preview it. Seoul are a hard side to watch this year, lacking creativity and are really struggling to score so far this season. In fact their return of 18 goals in 15 games is really poor for a team aiming to retain their title. They let Adriano and Takahagi go in the close season and while ha Dae Sung’s return will make up for the latter there has been no sign of a replacement for Adriano. It is something they need to sort out and sort out fast. Sangju, after last season’s highs, are back looking like the army teams of old and are winless in seven games now. Their form this year is strange given that, on paper, their team should be stronger than last year’s. Seoul have had the better of their military counterparts for a long time now and even though they are in their own slump they should have enough to beat them again today.
Prediction: Home Win : Seoul 1 – Sangju 0
Jeonbuk Hyundai vs. Daegu @ 7pm
The final game on Saturday is another between two teams at opposite ends of the table as league leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai take on 10th placed Daegu. Jeonbuk have won both of the games since returning from the international break and are beginning to look every bit the league winners having notched up an incredible seven goals in two games. I’m not sure what Choi Kang Hee said or did to Edu but he’s back finding the net again and with the return of Lopez they are looking formidable. They have been the best team in Korea for some time now and if it wasn’t for their points deduction last year they would be going for a record breaking ‘four in a row’ this year. Daegu haven’t really surprised many this year with their league position but they have definitely won some fans with their attacking style of play. In Leo they have a really dangerous striker who will punish you if given any room whatsoever. They’ve drawn their last two matches with a 0-0 draw away to Seoul the most recent. On paper this should be a walkover for Jeonbuk but they might just find it tougher than many think.
Now that the Asian Champions League is all but over for Korea this year it’s time to turn all eyes to the bread and butter of the K-League Classic. Today sees four games featuring all the teams from the midweek ACL matches.
Sangju Sangmu vs. FC Seoul @ 3pm
The first game of the day sees the army team of Sangju Sangmu host FC Seoul in a match which sees two teams lacking somewhat in confidence clash. Sangju have been poor of late losing their last two games and dropping down into the Relegation Group as they currently occupy 8th spot. Seoul have also been poor this year and lack the creative spark in the middle of the pitch needed. They did however beat Urawa Reds in a ‘dead rubber’ in the ACL during the week but I think fans of both teams would’ve struggled to name more than a handful of players on either team such were the sweeping changes made. There were some epic clashes between the two last year so here’s hoping for another cracker today.
Prediction: Score Draw : Sangju 1 – Seoul 1
Ulsan Hyundai vs. Jeonbuk Hyundai @ 3pm
Next up is the first Hyundai Derby of 2017 between Ulsan Hyundai and Jeonnam Hyundai in a match which has slightly more importance this year than last. Ulsan have recently found some decent league form winning three games on the bounce and picking up a confidence booster midweek as they defeated Brisbane in the ACL. Jeonbuk, by contrast, have been rocky of late and won for the first time in three games last weekend beating Daegu and are currently joint top with early leaders Jeju. It was almost impossible to separate the two teams last year and today could be another close affair. Prediction: Score Draw : Ulsan 1 – Jeonbuk 1
Pohang Steelers vs. Jeju United @ 3pm
The third and final 3pm kick off comes from the confines of the POSCO Steelyard as Pohang Steelers welcome league leaders Jeju United to town in what must be the game of the week. Pohang ended a losing run of three games by coming back from two goals behind to beat a beleaguered FC Seoul. Seoul did find themselves down to 10 men in the match but considering they’ve been on the end of many a favourable decision of late they can’t complain too much. Table toppers Jeju were the only K League side to progress from the ACL group stages and have been having a pretty perfect season so far. They look dangerous on all fronts and almost always look in control. They’ve scored a pretty incredible 8 goals in their last two league games beating both Jeonbuk and Sangju easily. Jeju thrashed Pohang twice last year but Pohang are a different team in 2017.
Prediction: Away Win : Pohang 1 – Jeju 2
Jeonnam Dragons vs. Suwon Bluewings @ 5pm
The final Sunday afternoon game is between two mid-table sides as Jeonnam Dragons host Suwon Bluewings in the 5pm kick-off. Jeonnam have bounced back from a nightmare start to 2017 and have won four from the last five in the league and utterly destroyed Gwangju last weekend running out 5-0 winners with Jair taking the match ball home with him. The Bluewings have been disappointing in the opening rounds and even though they went on a 3 game winning run they, rather predictably, lost to Ulsan last Saturday. Last year there was a 3-0 thrashing for Suwon sandwiched between two draws, this year it’s too tough to call.
Last week in the Classic saw the Jeju Juggernaut finally come to a halt as Gwangju came from behind to snatch a share of the spoils. Suwon continued their poor form and much to the amusement of the Incheon fans managed to blow a 3-1 lead to end up drawing 3-3. The other big talking point was Seoul coming back from Jeonju empty-handed as Jeonbuk continued their quest for their third crown in four years.
K-League Classic 2017 Week 5 Predictions
First up we have the Saturday fixtures.
Gwangju vs. Ulsan Hyundai @ 3pm
Our first game of the day comes from Gwangju as they welcoome Ulsan Hyundai to town as 8th place take on 6th from the Guus Hiddink Stadium. Gwangju come into the match on the back of a hard-fought away draw last weekend against table toppers Jeju United. It was a rather surprising result although they did lead for most of their previous match against FC Seoul. Ulsan have been erratic this season but managed to pick up their second win of the season in the last round with an injury time winner against Gangwon. Ulsan have a lot of potential and if they could just gel quickly you get the feeling they could mount a challenge. Last time out they drew 1-1 towards the end of the summer although Ulsan did however win the other two matches last year and in fact have only ever lost once to Gwangju. On paper Ulsan should win although with the ACL next week they might just be a little distracted.
Prediction: Away Win : Gwangju 1 – Ulsan 2
FC Seoul vs. Jeju United @ 3pm
Next up we have the match of the round with Seoul World Cup Stadium the battleground as FC Seoul host Jeju United in an all ACL clash. Seoul lost for the first time this season last weekend against potential title rivals Jeonbuk 1-0 and put in yet another Jekyll and Hyde performance as it took them until half-time to kick into life.They definitely lack something compared to last season and look as if they are really struggling to cope with the losses of Adriano and Takahagi. Jeju are still undefeated this season, winning three and drawing that match against Gwangju, they look a team capable of scoring for fun and with their pace and guile up front could cause their hosts all kind of problems. Last time they met it was Seoul who emerged the victors with a 2-0 victory. Seoul used to have the beating of Jeju easy and have only lost four times to them although two of them were last season. This one will be a tough one for both teams.
Prediction: Away Win : Seoul 1 – Jeju 2
Suwon Bluewings vs. Sangju Sangmu @ 3pm
The final 3 o’clock kick off on Saturday comes from The Big Bird in Suwon as The Bluewings host Army side Sangju. Suwon have started this year much like last year much to the disappointment of their passionate fans, incredibly drawing three of their games so far this season. Last weekend they let a two goal lead fall from their grasp away to Incheon United. This prompted the Incheon fans to hold aloft a banner with ‘Seo Time’ on it in reference to Seon Jung Won losing games in the last minute akin to ‘Fergie Time’. It must be beginning to be a worry for their fans who were full of title aspirations only a few weeks ago. Sangju have continued on from their impressive form last year and have won twice away this season although they have failed to mirror that at home having drawn and lost so far. Last time out they drew 1-1 with the other two clashes in 2016 finishing as Suwon victories. Prediction: Draw : Suwon 1 – Sangju 1
Gangwon vs. Jeonbuk Hyundai @ 5pm
The final match on Saturday is the 5pm kick-off from the Ski Jumping home of Gangwon as they welcome Jeonbuk to town. Alex Ferguson once famously referred to Manchester City as their “noisy neighbours” and that is exactly how Gangwon are looking so far this year. They made some huge signings in the close-season but so far the experiment is blowing up in their faces as they languish in 7th spot. They won their opening game but have since only been able to pick up a single point. Jeonbuk on the other hand are joint top of the table with three wins and a draw from the opening rounds and look like a team on a mission. Last weekend they easily dispatched of FC Seoul without really breaking too much sweat. Kim Jin Su was the difference as he smashed home another peach of a free-kick. Without the ACL to distract them they definitely look like a team determined to reclaim their crown and it’s going to take something special to stop them. Prediction: Away Win : Gangwon 0 – Jeonbuk 1
Next up we have the Sunday fixtures.
Pohang Steelers vs. Incheon United @ 3pm
First up on Sunday and without a doubt the highlight match of the day sees Pohang take on Incheon at The Steelyard. Pohang are having a far better start to 2017 than they did last year and have only lost once so far this season and that was the opening game of the campaign against Ulsan. Since that early blip they’ve won twice and drawn once and sit in third place in the table. Incheon have yet again shown that they have a ‘never say die’ attitude first coming from behind against Daegu and then again last weekend against rivals Suwon Bluewings. They also managed a home draw against Jeonbuk and are a tough team to beat when they put their minds to it. Last time the teams met it was Incheon who emerged the victors, defeating The Steelers 3-2. It was honours even last year and on the head to head there isn’t much between the teams.
Prediction: Home Win: Pohang 2 – Incheon 1
Daegu vs. Jeonnam Dragons @ 3pm
The final game this Sunday afternoon has a bit of a relegation feel about it as early relegation candidates Daegu host Jeonnam. Daegu are still looking for their first win since returning to the Classic although that’s not to say that they’ve been cannon fodder for the big boys. They got a credible draw in Suwon and probably should have defeated Incheon at home. In Cesinha they have a player who knows where the goals are and he can turn a match on its head when called upon. To say Jeonnam have had a poor start is an understatement as they have lost all four of their games conceding ten goals in the process. They are in desperate need of getting something positive from a match and might just see Daegu as their easiest foes. They last played each other in 2013 with Jeonnam just edging the head to head.
This week sees the first round of the Group Stages of the 2017 ACL and for many of the teams it’s that much awaited first competitive match of the season and the chance to showcase the new additions to the squad. The first round has a couple of matches which even at this early stage could go a long way to deciding who gets out the group and who gets to “focus on the domestic scene”. With last year’s winners Jeonbuk being thrown out of the tournament all Korean eyes will be on ACL regulars Seoul and Suwon Bluewings to see if they can keep the trophy in Korea.
FC Seoul v Shanghai SIPG (Tuesday 21st Feb)
FC Seoul start their Asian Champions League campaign with a home match against Andre Villa Boas’ Shanghai SIPG in what is generally regarded as one of the toughest ACL groups in recent years. Where SIPG are bolstered by players such as Hulk, Carvalho and Oscar, Seoul have seen their squad somewhat depleted with Adriano leaving for pastures new over the close season. Adriano had a fantastic group stage last year and will be undoubtedly be greatly missed with his replacement, Maurinho, hardly an eye-catching capture . With the other two members of the group being Urawa and Western Sydney Wanderers its fair to say that every point is a prisoner and neither team can afford a slow start. Shanghai came through the playoff stage with a rather routine 3-0 win over Sukhothai, Seoul haven’t exactly set the world on fire with their pre-season friendlies, it could all come too quick for the K-League Champions.
Prediction : Draw : Seoul 1 – Shanghai SIPG 1
Kashima Antlers v Ulsan Hyundai (Tuesday 21st Feb)
The second Korean team involved in this year’s ACL are Ulsan Hyundai who found themselves the main beneficiaries of the ACL decision to prohibit Jeonbuk playing in this year’s tournament. Ulsan were promoted to the play-off stage after Jeju automatically moved up to take Jeonbuk’s place. They had a rather tense affair against Kitchee when the match went to penalties, this really was a match that they should be winning without too much huff and puff but I guess you can excuse them as they really didn’t get a whole lot of time to prepare. Ulsan make a welcome return to the ACL having last competed in 2014 when they failed to qualify from the group stages. They start their campaign with a tough trip to Japan to face J-League title holders and Fuji Xerox Cup winners Kashima Antlers. The main talking point of the match will undoubtedly be Kwon Sun Tae making his first appearance against a Korean team since his winter transfer from Jeonbuk. Ulsan themselves have seen a few new faces arrive in the close season with Mislav Orsic and Lee Jong Ho being two huge additions to their squad. As mentioned they did struggle against Kitchee and Kashima will be a tough nut to crack away. Brisbane Roar and Muangthong United make up the rest of Group E so they might just view this one as being “loseable”
Prediction: Home Win : Kashima 2 – Ulsan 0
Kawasaki Frontale v Suwon Bluewings (Wednesday 22nd Feb)
Korean cup winners Suwon Bluewings will head to Japan to start their ACL campaign and must be hoping for a better showing in the group stages this year than last year when they lost out on away goals to Melbourne Victory. They have strengthened quite a bit over the close season and seem to be building a team for an assault on the K-League title, signings such as Matt Jurman and Shin Hwa Young should more than compliment the squad which clinched the FA Cup to end the 2016 season. They seem to have managed to keep the prolific Jonathon in their ranks and on his day he is one of the deadliest in the K-League. This match will see Jung Sung Ryong line up against his old team for the first time since his J-League switch. Kawasaki finished 3rd in the J-League last year and will be no pushovers and considering the other teams making up the group are Chinese giants Guangzhou Evergrande and Hong Kong’s Eastern it will almost certainly come down to the head-to-head between these two. Hopefully Bluewings will have learned from last year’s harsh lessons and be a little more focused in their home matches.
Prediction : Draw : Bluewings 1 – Kawasaki 1
Jeju United v Jiangsu FC (Wednesday 22nd Feb)
Our final Korean team in action are Jeju United who embark on relatively unknown territory as they make only their second ever appearance in the ACL, the first of which was back in 2011.They qualified courtesy of finishing third in the K-League and then were moved into Jeonbuk’s place after they were expelled. They had a good season last year and will be hoping to build on a rather surprising third place spot this year. They strengthened their squad by adding Frederic Mendy from Ulsan whilst bringing Aleksander Jovanovic back from China. They also signed the experienced Park Jin Po from Seongnam which should add some steel to their often leaky defence. In Jiangsu FC, they face a tough opening game against such big names as Ramires, Martinez and Teixeira as well as continuing the ex-player theme by coming face to face with Hong Jeong Ho. Add in Adelaide United and Gamba Osaka and they have a really tough group which they will do well to get even close to qualification from to be honest. They are difficult to beat on the island in the domestic scene but bringing that form into the ACL is a different kettle of fish altogether.
This weekend sees the final matches in the K-League Classic in what has been one of the most unpredictable seasons I can remember. We’ve had points deducted, ‘giants’ being slain while others implode plus the emergence of a new face at the party.The K-League have split the fixtures over two two days with the Relegation Group being on Saturday and the Championship Group on Sunday.
In the relegation round the biggest match is that between Incheon United and Suwon FC as they battle to see who can avoid automatic relegation. Suwon FC need to defeat Incheon by more than three goals if they are to survive until the playoffs at least. The other important match sees Pohang host Seongnam and both will be hoping Incheon don’t win otherwise one of them would slip into the playoffs.
With more potential twits and turns than an episode of Sherlock it is going to be an exciting 90 mins for sure.
Incheon United vs. Suwon FC
After all the football played over the season the relegation battle will come down to these final 90 mins at Incheon Stadium as the bottom two face off in a winner takes all battle. Incheon had been in outstanding form recently having won five of their last ten or so matches but then they went and lost to Suwon Bluewings midweek. That defeat ensured the Bluewings survival and coupled with a surprise Suwon FC win in Seongnam threw the relegation battle wide open again. Incheon have a fantastic ‘never say die’ attitude and have managed several last minute winners over the year. They also boast match-winners like Kevin in their squad and he will be a key man in this match too. Suwon have also surprised many and although they sit bottom of the table they have been more than competitive. Unfortunately thought their inconsistency goes hand in hand with their passion and desire and that is why they find themselves where they are. They too have key men who they’ll need to be at their best and probably none more so than Australian defender Adrian Leijer who was a rock midweek against Seongnam. It might not be a pretty match but it will be exciting and could just go all the way to the final kick of the ball.
Prediction: Score Draw : Incheon 2 – Suwon 2
Pohang Steelers vs. Seongnam FC
Football has seen many a team fall from grace down the years, Blackburn Rovers, Parma to name but two and the K-League is of course not immune to this but it has to be said nobody could have predicted that these two clubs would be potentially 90 mins from a playoff spot to stay in the Classic. It is quite incredible that they find themselves in this position and no doubt both of these sides will have half an eye on the game over in Incheon where a draw would see them survive to regroup next year. Pohang come into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw with Gwangju in a match that they yet again threw away a lead. They have been incredibly erratic from day one of the season and even after they brought in several new recruits in the summer were still unable to stabilise things. Seongnam’s season has been slightly more dramatic as they have gone from sitting comfortably in the top three to 9th in the table. They had a great opportunity to effectively finish their season midweek when Suwon FC visited town but yet again they fell short. They did however get their first goal since the split and in fairness did pepper the Suwon goal for the majority of the 2nd half . It should be a close match but the last time they met Pohang ran out easy 4-1 winners and that might just be in both team’s heads come kick-off. Prediction: Home Win : Pohang 2 – Seongnam 1
Suwon Bluewings vs. Gwangju
The final game is a bit of a ‘dead rubber’ as both sides are safe from relegation and therefore have only pride to play for, there is also the added fact that Bluewings have an FA Cup final coming up in a couple of weeks and might just decide to rest key players such as Yeom Ki Hun and Jonathon. Bluewings have had a nightmare season but have managed to get the results when they needed them and have won three matches in a row. Their fans may have been blocking buses and screaming ‘blue murder’ for most of the season but if they bring the elusive FA Cup home to The Big Bird all will be forgiven. Gwangju yet again have secured their place at the top table and surely there come a time soon when we stop referring to them as the “surprise package” of the league. As they showed midweek they do love a comeback and have a habit of finding late goals when they most need them. With nothing to play for this one could go either way. Prediction: Score Draw : Bluewings 1 – Gwangju 1
The end of the 2016 K-League Classic is almost upon us as Wednesday sees the penultimate round of matches in what has been one of the tightest leagues of the last few years . Most eyes will be on the key games in the Championship Group featuring the top two of Jeonbuk and Seoul to see if anything will give before they meet in the final game at the weekend. It’s only goals scored that separates them after some big wins last weekend.
In the Relegation Group the big one is probably the battle between Suwon Bluewings and Incheon United as the two in-form teams of the bottom six go head to head in a game that will have ramifications for the other four teams. Suwon FC will be relegated if they lose to Seongnam and Incheon fail to see off the Bluewings.
This round of games take place with matches kicking off in the evening at either 7 or 7.30pm, with temperatures plummeting in Korea it’s going to make it especially frosty for those fans who find themselves on the losing side.
Wednesday November 2nd 2016:
Jeonbuk Hyundai vs. Sangju Sangmu (7pm) – Championship Round
First up we have the match involving league leaders and defending champions Jeonbuk against the surpside package of 2016 Sangju, the hosts will come into this game knowing that if they match FC Seoul’s result on the night then they will be in complete control of their own destiny come the final game on Sunday. They’ve only lost once all season which was to Jeju but they have come close on several occasions and have definitely looked shaky in recent weeks, although they did look every bit champion material last weekend as they routed local rivals Jeonnam. Sangju, although impressive in the early stages have been pretty rank rotten of late and haven’t won since mid August although they did put in a battling performance recently against FC Seoul with a 2-2 draw. They’ve ran Jeonbuk close in their meetings all season and have drawn twice with the leaders so this is anything but the easy home win it might look on paper.
Prediction: A hard fought home win : Jeonbuk 2 – Sangju 1
FC Seoul vs. Jeonnam Dragons (7.30pm) – Championship Round
FC Seoul will host their final league match of the season perhaps wondering if they should be sitting atop the table after surprisingly dropping two points in their last home game against Sangju a couple of weeks ago. Since then though they have made it to the FA Cup final where they have a two-leg ‘Supermatch’ final to look forward to and stopped their poor run of form against Jeju by flying back from the island paradise with all 3pts in the bag. Jeonnam’s fortunes have not been quite so lofty and they will still be licking their wounds after that humping at the hands of their Jeolla neighbors. They lost in the FA Cup to Seoul on a penalty shootout and that might make them want revenge in the league but they’ll need to up their performances of late if they wish to get anything from a tough match. With Jeonbuk having put five past Jeonnam last weekend Seoul will need to rack up the goals in this one too.
Prediction: Home Win : Seoul 2 – Jeonnam 0
Ulsan Hyundai vs. Jeju United (7.30pm) – Championship Round
The final game in the Championship Round is a battle for third and that all important final ACL place for 2017 (although recent rumors regarding Jeonbuk’s 2017 place being in jeopardy could change things). Jeju had looked in pole position to claim third going into last weekend but a defeat at home to Seoul coupled with an Ulsan victory has thrown the cat among the pigeons slightly. Jeju had been on a pretty good run of late, notching up four wins in a row and it was a little surprising to see them halted by Seoul and especially without finding the back of the net. Ulsan on the other hand, managed their first win in five as they defeated Sangju away. There is not a whole lot between the two teams and with so much at stake it could come down to who handles the occasion best. They have one win apiece so far this season but they’ve all been close affairs. Prediction: Score Draw : Ulsan 1 –Jeju 1
Gwangju vs. Pohang Steelers (7pm) – Relegation Round
The first match to preview in the Relegation Group should really be a ‘dead rubber’ as only a few weeks ago these sides looked in zero danger of losing their place at the top table. Now with 2 games to go they, like the whole bottom six, are firmly in the battle to avoid the dreaded relegation playoffs. Both teams have been hugely inconsistent this year and they have both only managed to record two victories in their last ten matches. Gwangju come into the match after holding Seongnam to a goalless draw, their second match in a row where they have failed to score as top scorer and MVP nominee Jung Jo Gook has struggled to maintain his fine early season form. Pohang were surprising losers in the last round as they fell 3-2 away to Incheon as the hosts snatched all 3 pts with a 95th minute goal. That made it two defeats in a row for The Steelers, and they look like a team really struggling with the situation they find themselves in. A win for Gwangju would guarantee their safety, a defeat for Pohang could see them having to win at The Steelyard on the final day to avoid having to battle it out in the playoffs. Prediction: Score Draw : Gwangju 1 – Pohang 1
Suwon Bluewings vs. Incheon United (7.30pm) – Relegation Round
This one is probably the biggest game of the round and arguably the biggest game of the season for both teams as they’ll know that a win for either would really impact on the relegation battle but a defeat could be disastrous. Bluewings have found some end of season form and won three games straight to give themselves a little breathing space as they move up to 8th place. Pretty much of all their positives have come from Jonathon, who after arriving in the summer transfer window has completely transformed their fortunes. He may have taken a few games to get used to his team mates but there is no denying the impact that he has had. Much like Adriano at Seoul last year he has become an integral part of their team and could just be the man who delivers them the FA Cup when the final comes around. As impressive as Bluewing’s form has been recently it does pale when compared to Incheon who are having their own purple patch having won five and drawn three of their last eight matches. They have been pulling results out of nowhere at times and have shown incredible fight and resilience as last weekend’s victory showed. This is a team who is not going to go without a fight and are more than capable of putting in a performance in the big matches. All three matches between them this year have ended with a share of the points, this looks like it will go the same way.
Prediction: Score Draw : Bluewings 1 – Incheon 1
Seongnam FC vs. Suwon FC (7.30pm) – Relegation Round
The final game of this week’s previews sees Seongnam host Suwon FC in the final installment of the ‘flag wars’ saga and if that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite it could potentially see Suwon relegated or Seongnam with the proverbial mountain to climb come next weekend. It is quite difficult to fathom quite how Seongnam have got themselves into their current fix, after all this was a team that was flirting with the table leaders as the trees were beginning to bloom. They have had a dismal run and have only one win in eleven games and to make matters worse for them their goals look to have completely dried up. In form players such as Pitu have looked exhausted of late and the pressure of the ‘lone goal scorer’ has taken its toll on Hwang Uijo. They look like a team just begging for the season to end to regroup. Suwon FC have been a joy to have in the Classic at times this year with their battling spirit and never say die approach. They lost the Suwon Derby at the weekend but again should that same fight and passion throughout. They have players who are too good to be plying their trade in the Challenge and you get the feeling they would bid farewell to one or two of them if and when they drop back down. This is an almost impossible game to call, Suwon need something to keep their dreams alive and Seongnam will not want to have to travel to Pohang needing a win.