K-League Classic Round 11 Previews – Sunday Fixtures

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.

Prediction:  Score Draw : Jeonnam 2 – Suwon 2

K-League Classic Round 29 Previews

K-League Classic Round 29 Previews

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After an international break (well excluding the Seoul v Ulsan match) the Classic is back in full flow and it’s ‘Derby weekend’ to boot with the Jeolla Derby, the Gyeongin Derby and the Seongnam v Bluewings Derby. With a huge tie between third and fourth down in Jeju it’s shaping up to be a great weekend of K-League action. 

That feeling when the league is back after the break!!
That feeling when the league is back after the break!!

 

Saturday September 10th 2016:

Jeonbuk BadgeJeonnam Badge

Jeonbuk Hyundai vs. Jeonnam Dragons (3pm)

First up this weekend is the Jeolla Derby and it ‘s between sides at opposite ends of the table, as league leaders, and still undefeated, Jeonbuk take on their local rivals Jeonnam. Jeonbuk pretty much all but clinched their third title in a row when they recorded an emphatic 3-1 win over FC Seoul in the last round. Although far from impressive this season they just seem to be able to turn up the heat whenever they need to and that defeat moved them 12 pts clear at the top. Leonardo, once again, was the hero notching up two goals. Jeonnam are sitting 8th in the table and should feel more confident about not being dragged into an end of season dogfight at the bottom. They have still been inconsistent with two wins, two losses and a draw in their last five matches but the other teams around them have been woeful.  On paper Jeonbuk should run out easy winners but then they do have the Asian Champions League on their minds next week and stranger things have happened.

Prediction: Home Win : Jeonbuk 2 – Jeonnam 0

Incheon United vs. FC Seoul (6pm)

Incheon_United.svgFC Seoul Badge

The first of our evening matches this week is the Gyeongin Derby between Incheon United and FC Seoul. The clubs have played each other a total of forty times and Seoul have by far the upper hand  in the fixture winning seven of the last eight encounters.  Incheon have lost their last 4 games on the bounce and have slipped back to the bottom of the table and in all honesty look like they could be marooned there for the foreseeable. The last defeat to Suwon FC was a bitter pill to swallow and will have undoubtedly hit them hard. As previously mentioned Seoul lost to Jeonbuk and must now consider their title hopes gone. They are still in the FA Cup and the ACL and  travel to China during the week to complete the task against Shandong. They may look to rest some players given the importance of that match and the relative safety net of a nine point lead over third place.

Prediction: Away Win : Incheon 1 – Seoul 2

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Seongnam FC vs. Suwon Bluewings (6pm)

The third derby of the weekend sees sixth placed Seongnam FC take on tenth placed Suwon Bluewings in a match which is more than capable of producing a few fireworks. Seongnam started the season brightly but have lost their way of late and are in great danger of slipping out of the top 6. They have lost two on the bounce and have been unable to ‘buy’ a win since June. The loss of Tiago was huge but they still have a number of capable players including Pitu and Hwang Uijo so you have to start asking if the problem lies somewhere deeper. Speaking of deep problems, it really is strange to see the Bluewings dwell so far down the table at this stage. Everybody still seems to be waiting on them bouncing back but it really does look like that’s unlikely. They have drawn their last three games all 1-1, and haven’t won since July. The teams have met each other three times already this season in both the league and FA Cup with Seongnam winning both league matches and Bluewings winning the cup tie. It is always a tough one to call and will be a close match for sure.

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Those Seongnam PR boys do like taking a pop at the Bluewings!

Prediction: Score Draw : Seongnam 1 – Bluewings 1

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Pohang Steelers vs. Suwon FC (7pm)

Saturday’s late game is a relatively bottom of the table clash between Pohang and Suwon FC in a match that could well see The Steelers move within goals scored of the top 6. It should be noted that a defeat would and it would see them firmly still in the relegation battle. Pohang have only one win in six games and this must go down as a disastrous debut season for coach Choi Jin Cheul. They lost their last match against fellow bottom sixers Jeonnam to a last minute Jair strike and it’s results like that which have resulted in them slumming with the commoners in the bottom half.  Suwon on the other hand have put together a good little run and have picked up seven points from their last three games which saw them move off the bottom of the table. Incredibly Suwon have 2 wins over Pohang so far this season both with 1-0 scorelines, could they make it a hat-trick?

Prediction: Home Win : Pohang 2 – Suwon 1

Sunday September 11th 2016:

Jeju BadgeUlsan Badge

Jeju United vs. Ulsan Hyundai (6pm)

The first of Sunday’s games is between fourth and third and ultimately two sides racing for the Asian Champions League spots as 4th place Jeju United host 3rd place Ulsan. Jeju, after a bit of a sticky patch, have won their last two games including a huge victory over Seongnam in the last round. They are traditionally strong at home and there’s still not many teams who leave the island all too happy. Ulsan have had a rather strange season, ranging from protests and having their bus blocked to sublime last minute goals. They have only one win in the last nine games but do still find themselves in third which is as much a reflection on their rival’s misfortunes as anything else. They showed some spirit last weekend coming form two down to snatch a point against Seoul and that could just give them the momentum to carry them over the line into third and that all important ACL spot.
Prediction: A tough home win : Jeju 2 – Ulsan 1

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Gwangju vs. Sangju Sangmu (6pm)

The final game of the weekend is between the two surprise packages of 2016 in  Gwangju and Sangju Sangmu, who are separated by only three points in seventh and fifth respectively. The fact that we are not referring to this match as a relegaiton battle goes some way to sum up just how well they’ve both done this year.  Gwangju are undefeated in five games and boast the league’s top scorer Jung Jo-Gook among their squad. They are a tough nut to crack at home and have been a thorn in many a Classic side this year. High-flying Sangju  have unfortunately had a number of players return to their parent clubs in recent weeks which has obviously weakened their squad considerably. They will be hoping to cling on and maintain their place among the top six but with only one win in five games it’s already looking a tough ask. This tie generally always has goals and it could well be another high scorer this weekend.

Prediction: Home Win : Gwangju 2 – Sangju 1

K-League Classic Round 21 Previews

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K-League Classic Round 21 Previews

 

We are almost at the mid-point of the season and the league table has an altogether too familiar leader as  Jeonbuk now have an eight point lead at the top over FC Seoul. Other than Jeonbuk the rest of the top six are pretty tough to split with Ulsan fast on Seoul’s heels in third based on goals scored. There are only 5 points separating fourth and seventh so the second half of the season is going to be close for sure. At the other end of the table, Suwon FC still languish in bottom spot with Jeonnam, Incheon United and Suwon Bluewings all fighting it out to avoid the playoffs.

This midweek sees a full card in the Classic and with Seoul v Jeonbuk it will go a long way to deciding if we have a title fight on our hands for the first time in a couple of years. 

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Sangju Sangmu vs. Suwon Bluewings

First up we have the in form army side Sangju taking on the horrendously out of form Suwon Bluewings. The army have been a revelation this season and have an impressive six wins from their last seven games having beaten both Seoul and Soengnam in that run. This form has seen them jump up the table into 4th place and deservedly so. The Bluewings however have had a pretty awful season, they’re down in ninth place with only one win in the last four games and look a team that are completely devoid of ideas as well as being sapped of confidence. Sangju beat Suwon earlier this season and it’s going to take a monumental effort from the Bluewings to stop them doing it again.

Prediction: Home Win: Sangju 2 – Bluewings 1

GwangjuFCJeonnam Badge

Gwangju vs. Jeonnam Dragons (7pm)

Gwangju have had a mixed season so far but they do seem to be doing just enough to stay out of the dreaded relegation battle. They have only managed just the one win from their last five games but they do have the league’s joint top scorer Jung Jo Gook in their team and are more than capable of holding their own. Jeonnam are still trudging along in the league and  a sit a couple of places below Gwangju in the table, that being said however they have won their last two league games and this might just give them the confidence to pull away from Suwon at the bottom. Gwangju won the first meeting this year 2-1 and it should be another close one again tonight.

Prediction: Home Win : Gwangju 1 – Jeonnam 0

FC Seoul BadgeJeonbuk Badge

FC Seoul vs. Jeonbuk Hyundai (7.30pm)

The highlight of the round is undoubtedly Seoul v Jeonbuk as 2nd place hosts 1st in a match which could go a long way to deciding the destination of the 2016 title. Seoul are currently 8 points adrift of the Champions  and are having their very own mid-life crisis as they seem to be struggling to come to terms with Choi jumping ship mid-season. They scraped past a plucky Incheon at the weekend which, remarkably, was their first win in five league matches. Jeonbuk are still undefeated in the league this season and won again at the weekend which was their second win on the bounce and they are beginning to look every bit the Champions at the right time. Jeonbuk won the early season tie 1-0 and with Seoul’s awful injury problems mounting up by the day it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Jeonbuk claim another scalp at Seoul World Cup Stadium.

Prediction: Away Win : Seoul  1 Jeonbuk  2

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Seongnam FC vs. Jeju United (7.30pm)

Seongnam FC are currently in 5th place and have their sights firmly set on an ACL spot for next season and come into the match having won 2-1 at the home of their rivals The Bluewings. After a shaky June they have shown some of the flair and fight that hoisted them to the top of the table away back in March and  they now have three wins from their last four Classic ties. They have been better on the road than at home this season and need to start making Tancheon a fortress again.  Jeju  have been all over the place recently and have now gone five games without a win and are in danger of dropping out the top 6. The previous game this season ended 2-2  after Seongnam raced into a 2-0 early lead, this one will be another close one again.

Prediction: Home Win : Seongnam 1 – Jeju 0

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Suwon FC vs. Pohang Steelers (7.30pm)

Bottom side Suwon FC host a stuttering Pohang Steelers side and this one is definitely a case of both sides desperately needing a win. After such a promising start Suwon FC  have gone on a downward slide and lost again at the weekend, making it now nine games without a win. Pohang also lost at the weekend and after looking like they were finding form they have now lost two in a row and will need to start picking up the points again if they are to avoid one of their worst league places in the last few years. The last time these two played Suwon FC picked up an away win in a closely fought 1-0 victory, tonight will be close again and Pohang might just get revenge.

Prediction: Away Win : Suwon 0 – Pohang 1

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Prediction: 1 – 3

Ulsan Hyundai vs. Incheon United (7.30pm)

The final game of this midweek round is a repeat of last week’s FA Cup quarter-final as Ulsan again play host to Incheon. That last match finished 4-1 as Ulsan easily tore through Incheon on night with new signing and ‘cult hero’ Frederic Mendy grabbing a double. Ulsan  are currently 3rd in the league level on points with Seoul in second but with less goals scored. They have really come onto  a game recently and look the team most likely to worry Jeonbuk with three wins in five games. Incheon United on the other hand are having another poor season and find themselves second from bottom with only four wins from twenty. They do however have Kevin Oris in their team who is always capable of creating something although maybe he should be kept away from penalty duties. Ulsan have beaten Incheon twice already this season, it’s going to take something special to stop them making it three!

Prediction: Home Win : Ulsan 2 – Incheon 1

K-League Challenge Playoff Round 2 Preview

K-League Challenge

We’ve hardly had time to catch our breath or dry our clothes after what was a potential game of the season on Wednesday as Suwon FC just edged the first round of the playoff. A 3-3 draw was enough for them to see off the challenge of Seoul E-land and book themselves a date with destiny against Daegu on Saturday afternoon. As the scoreline would suggest the match was a pretty enthralling encounter between two teams who decided to leave defending in the dressing room. Some could argue that it was the perplexing idea of a draw ensuring victory for the home team that created or inspired such a display of attacking football or others could just argue it was rank rotten defending and atrocious conditions. I am willing to give both arguments my vote. That match has left E-land wondering about what might have been and Suwon maybe just maybe beginning to dream about trips to such exotic paradises as Jeju, Jeonju and the POSCO factory complex.

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Round two of the playoffs will be another one-off match this time in Korea’s fourth biggest city of Daegu. A city known for beautiful girls, apples and plastic surgery, I’m sure two of them are closely linked!!!

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Daegu FC v Suwon FC (Sat Nov 28th @ 2pm)

With a lot to live up to after Wednesday’s goal fest, Daegu will play host to the final playoff match in the K-League Challenge to see who will take on Busan for the last place in next season’s K-League Classic (as yes that was deliberate). As with the previous round, home advantage guarantees that a draw over 90 mins will be enough to see the hosts prepare to welcome Busan next midweek. Just like with E-land and Suwon, Daegu also possess a prolific striker with the league’s top scorer Johnathon on their books. With 26 goals in 37 starts it’s a record to rival that of Adriano’s from last season when he almost singlehandedly drove Daejeon to the Challenge title.  Johnathon was recently linked with a move to the Middle East but he has quashed those rumors and has pledged his future to Daegu, of course we’ll see how that holds up if they fail to make it through the playoffs.

Johnathon - Daegu FC
Johnathon – Daegu FC

Daegu though are far from a one-man team and have several players capable of both creating and taking chances. Brazilian-Palestinian Elder is a player who has the talent to make an impact in this match. He has 10 goals (in 21 starts) to his name this season and while not quite as prolific as his teammate it’s still a decent return on his first season. As mentioned in my Round 1 preview Japa and Sisi are two or Suwon’s main threats and although E-land tried to contain them as much as possible Japa was still able to come up with a moment of class when he cleverly turned home a shot from the middle of the box to level the scoring at 1-1. If allowed the time and space again he will punish Daegu for sure.

Japa scoring against Seoul E-land
Japa scoring against Seoul E-land

Daegu come into this match with a pretty abysmal home record against Suwon this season, losing both matches and conceding a confidence-sapping six goals in the process. They did however stem the flow of poor results in the final match where they defeated Suwon 2-0 on their own turf. That 2-0 victory was only just over a month ago and will still be fresh in both team’s mind which could just give the hosts a slight edge. Daegu also have the added luxury of having had a week to rest and prepare for the match unlike Suwon who must be a tad drained after the emotional roller coaster of Wednesday night. They at least know they won’t have to play for more than 90 mins so maybe one last motivational talk from Cho Deok Je might just be enough to get them over the line.

This match is another tough one to call  just like Wednesday was, here’s hoping we get another fantastic goal-laden contest. The prize at the end of the game is in the shape of a two-leg match against a a Busan team that look devoid of both confidence and imagination at the moment. Could we have a repeat of the Gwangju miracle?

Championship Group Round 4 Preview

K-League Classic

The last round of matches finally brought an end to probably one of the most predictable title races of the last decade (Scotland obviously not included). To say Jeonbuk had it wrapped up early would be an understatement and only the most passionate of fans would have given their team a chance of wrestling the title away from the champions. It was the footballing equivalent of watching Taken with Liam Neesson, come on nobody really thought he wouldn’t save his daughter as soon as she was ‘taken’. Pohang did throw a spanner in the works when they snatched the 3pts in Round 1 after the split but it was too little too late from the Steelers and by the far the best team won.

So with the title wrapped up the focus now turns to the pecking order of the trailing pack. Pohang currently sit 2nd, two points clear of Suwon and Seoul, who are separated only by goal difference, followed in 5th by Seongnam who now need a mini miracle if they are to make the ACL for the second season in a row. So with that in mind here are this week’s Championship Group Previews.

Jeonbuk BadgeSeongnam_FC

Jeonbuk v Seongnam (Sat 3pm)

So with some huffing and puffing (aided by some referees) Jeonbuk finally fell over the line and clinched the title with a 1-0 victory away to Jeju while at the same time Seongnam were shooting themselves in the foot again with another lackluster performance resulting in a goalless draw in The Steelyard. It would probably have come as no surprise that it was 23yrd old ‘wonderkid’ Lee Jae Sung who got the goal that kept the league trophy in Jeonju for at least another year. He’s had a pretty sweet season having played his way into the National team and already has an Asian Games gold and an East Asian Cup winners medal under his belt, it was a fitting way for him to wrap up the year.

Lee Jae Sung in action for Jeonbuk
Lee Jae Sung in action for Jeonbuk

Seongnam’s fortunes  on the other hand haven’t been quite so good as they haven’t exactly hit a purple patch of form since the split. A last minute reverse at home to Seoul has been followed by two frustrating goalless draws which has left their ACL hopes in tatters. They are not out of the race yet and if they can claim full points from their last two matches with Suwon losing theirs then they would claim the final spot courtesy of FC Seoul winning the FA Cup, but then again just because I keep going to Dalshabet fan meetings doesn’t mean I’m dating Woo Hee. This is probably the best time for Seongnam to play Jeonbuk what with them officially champions so maybe just maybe they can get the result that keeps their hopes alive, at least until Sunday.

Prediction : Jeonbuk 1 Seongnam 0

 

Jeju BadgeFC Seoul Badge

Jeju v Seoul (Sat 4pm)

It’s a trip to the island for newly crowned FA Cup winners Seoul, who will be hoping to fare better than the last time the two teams played in Seogwipo with the hosts winning that one 2-1. Jeju looked to be in good form leading up to the split but have since lost their last two matches and with their shocking record against Seoul (2 wins from 31) you would be hard pushed to imagine them stopping that poor run. Seoul don’t really have much more than pride to play for as they have already clinched a spot in next season’s ACL cas a result of winning the FA Cup. Their last match was the rip-roaring 4-3 Supermatch victory over Suwon which was achieved without Adriano or the now-retired Cha Duri. It will be interesting to see if Choi brings back the Brazilian back into the team or continues with four goal hero Yun Ju Tae, of course knowing Choi he will probably go with neither option. With nothing much at stake for both teams we could be in for a rather long 90 mins of football.

Yun Ju Tae in aciton against Suwon
Yun Ju Tae in action against Suwon

Prediction : Jeju 0 Seoul 0 

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Suwon v Pohang (Sun 2pm)

The last time these two crossed swords at The Big Bird there were cake hats, birthday fireworks and a red card here’s hoping this one can live up to the billing. As mentioned above both teams are virtually guaranteed to be playing in the ACL next year barring a minor disaster for Suwon so the match might not have the edge to it that the K-League were probably hoping for when they scheduled this second last match of the season. The previous encounters this season have been tight with a goalless draw and two 1-0 wins apiece. The last round of matches saw Suwon lose 4-3 in the Supermatch and Pohang held to a 0-0 by Seongnam and in fact Suwon have failed to record a win since the league split. It really has been their early form and in particular the goals of Chong Tae Se that have kept them in their lofty league position. Pohang will want to bounce back with a victory after seeing their faint title hopes crushed in the last round. On paper this should be an open attacking match between two of the better teams in the league but in all reality it will probably end up another tight match with the one goal winning it.

Prediction : Suwon 0 Pohang 1

Pohang fans cheer on their heros at the Big Bird
Pohang fans cheer on their heros at the Big Bird

 

 

Championship Group 2015 Round 2 Preview

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The first round of the Championship Group didn’t disappoint as we watched Jeonbuk falter yet again as they fell to a late Pohang winner on the Saturday only for Suwon to blow the opportunity by succumbing to a toothless defeat at the hands of Jeju. Seoul were also able to maintain their ‘mathematically possible’ title chances by coming from behind to stun Seongnam with two goals in the last five mins, a result which severely dented Seongnam’s chances of claiming the final ACL spot for next season. Round two has a lot to live up to but with Seoul hosting Jeonbuk and Seongnam hosting Suwon we just might see a repeat of the drama we witnessed in round 1.

Pohang BadgeJeju Badge

Pohang v Jeju – Saturday 2pm 

The early kick-off on Saturday sees Pohang welcome Jeju to The Steelyard in a match which depending on other results could see Pohang move into 2nd spot and close the gap on Jeonbuk to 6pts. Pohang are pretty much the form team in the top league right now having won their last five matches with the most recent being a 92nd winner away to Jeonbuk last weekend. While much has been made of Suwon’s title challenge, or lack there of, Pohang have gone about their business quietly and now find themselves with a real chance of knocking Suwon down into at least third. Jeju have also been on a good run of form recently and although having nothing to play for could still have a real say in who finishes with the prizes this year and who’s season was all for nothing. They ripped a hole in Suwon’s title pursuit last weekend by winning in The Big Bird can they now knock Pohang off track too? The three encounters between the teams this season have resulted in two victories for Jeju and one for Pohang, in fact the match in The Steelyard was a seven goal epic with Jeju scoring three goals in a two minute assault. Pohang won 1-0 the last time the two teams met with Son Joon Ho scoring a 40th minute penalty, it could take another spot-kick to separate the two teams again this weekend.

Jeju players celebrate at FT in the 4-3 match.
Jeju players celebrate at FT in the 4-3 match.

Prediction : Pohang 1 Jeju 1 

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Seongnam v Suwon – Saturday 4pm

After a first round of fixtures that promised so much yet delivered so little both teams will be wanting to bounce back with a victory when they take to the field on Saturday. Seongnam come into the match on the back of a confidence-sapping injury time defeat at the hands of Seoul last Saturday. A match that they led for 84 minutes was surrendered to goals from Ko Yo Han and Adriano. A lot of talk this year has been on how organized and stubborn the Seongnam defence has been but on this occasion the only stubbornness on show was from Kim Hak Bum as he chose to ‘park the bus’ for the full second half only to see it backfire. That defeat leaves Seongnam looking unlikely to claim an ACL place next season as the momentum is surely with Pohang and Seoul now. Speaking of a lack of momentum quite how Suwon failed to capitalize on Jeonbuk’s Steven Gerrard style slip was ridiculous. They have had several chances of late to claw points back on the champions but have contrived to throw each one away. It really is beginning to look like they really don’t have the winning mentality nor the bottle to actually challenge for silverware. The match against Jeju really was one they should have been winning every day of the week but when it came to stepping up to the plate nobody in a blue shirt seemed up for the task. The three matches between these two so far this season have resulted in one win each and the other a 1-1 draw. Seongnam did win the last match 1-0 in Suwon, it’s going to take another monumental effort from them to pull off a similar result this time around.

Seongnam players salute their fans after beating Suwon 1-0
Seongnam players salute their fans after beating Suwon 1-0

Prediction : Seongnam 0 Suwon 0

FC Seoul BadgeJeonbuk Badge

Seoul v Jeonbuk – Sunday 4pm 

If confidence and morale won matches then Seoul would win this one 5-0 after last weekend. Fresh from winning in the last minute last Sunday they take on a Jeonbuk side who in contrast must be drained after losing in the last minute last Saturday. Buoyed by a ‘it’s not over until it’s over’ train of thought Seoul have managed to win four out of their last five league matches coming from behind in three of them. They have developed a ‘play until the final whistle’ mentality which has seen them continue to push on and win matches they would undoubtedly have lost in the first half of the season. The big questions, which will be answered on Sunday, are can they keep it going and can they cast some doubt on an already shaky looking Jeonbuk squad. As well as the new found winning mentality Seoul have been boosted by the signing of Adriano who has looked every bit the player people thought he was when racking up the goals for Daejeon last year. In contrast Jeonbuk have been severely weakened by the crazy decision to let Edu leave and the almost as crazy decision to think Lee Keun Ho could fill his boots. A victory for Seoul on Sunday would still leave them 8pts behind with 9 to play but it could just open the door for Pohang. Jeonbuk currently have the upper hand on Seoul this year having won two of the three matches this season but then again they did have Edu for one of them. A lot will come down to the performances of Adriano for Seoul and Lee Dong Gook for Jeonbuk, keep either of them quiet and the 3pts might just be in the bag. Seoul need the win to keep the dream alive, Jeonbuk need the win to stop the nightmares, who will sleep easiest on Sunday evening will be clear come 6pm.

Adriano in action for FC Seoul
Adriano in action for FC Seoul
Lee Dong Gook scores against FC Seoul
Lee Dong Gook in scoring form for Jeonbuk

Prediction : Seoul 1 Jeonbuk 2 

 

 

 

Championship Group 2015 Round 1 Preview

K-League Classic

 

The humdrum of the International week is over, Korea securing an important victory against Kuwait and playing out a rather predictable 3-0 friendly win over Jamaica who struggled to look anything like the Reggae Boys of old. The highlight of the Internationals must have been goals from Ji Dong Won and a first international goal from Seongnam FC’s very own Hwang Uijo who has now managed to score in every type of match possible this season; league, ACL, FA Cup and now National team.

All eyes will now be focused on the Championship over the next couple of weeks; can Suwon wrestle the title off Jeonbuk, who will claim the final two ACL spots and will Adriano or Hwang Uijo take home the Golden Boot. This  weekend sees the first round of matches and it serves up a couple of tasty looking games.

Jeonbuk BadgePohang Badge

Jeonbuk v Pohang (Saturday 3pm)

As I previewed in an earlier post this was probably the one match that Jeonbuk feared getting first. The Champion’s form has not exactly been stable this season and Pohang have been the main team who have exploited that. They knocked them out the FA Cup in the early rounds and have proven to be a bit of a thorn in the side for the men in green and are thus far unbeaten in the last three contests between the teams. The previous encounters this year have finished 3-0 Pohang, 2-1 Pohang (FA Cup), 0-0 and 1-0 Jeonbuk which does back up the popular theory that Pohang have learned how to play the table-toppers. Pohang are the form team with four wins in a row while Jeonbuk lost their last match in Jeju in that epic five goal thriller. It should be a great match for the neutral with a lot at stake for both teams . Jeonbuk are sitting 8pts clear at the top of the league and with only 15pts to play for it is going to take a monumental challenge from Suwon or a disastrous collapse from Jeonbuk to see the trophy leave Jeonju but stranger things have happened and a defeat on Saturday could just shake the Motors a little.

Prediction : Jeonbuk 1 Pohang 1

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Suwon v Jeju (Sunday 2pm)

Second takes on sixth in what is possibly the match which on paper has the least at stake. Many consider Suwon to have little chance of prying the title from Jeonbuk’s hands and wield a 6pt lead over the other ACL chasing teams whereas Jeju have nothing but pride to play for which in itself can be a game leveler at times. Both teams had pretty big results in their last outings, Jeju with that hugely important 3-2 victory over Jeonbuk and Suwon with a resounding 4-2 win away to Gwangju. Both have similar form over the last five games and neither has really caught the eye all season, well not for the right reasons anyway. Jeju have uncharacteristically shipped 50 goals second worst only to Daejeon. Suwon have found themselves with a share of the points nine times which is probably the main reason they trail Jeonbuk by so much, well that and a failure to beat them all season. Suwon have won all three matches between the teams this season amazingly scoring 4 goals on two occasions. They look to have the beating of Jeju and if Jeonbuk were to slip up 24hrs earlier against Pohang this match could just be massive in the title race.

Prediction : Swuon 2 Jeju 0

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Seongnam v Seoul (Sunday 4pm)

It seems like only last week that both teams were squaring up to each other at Seoul World Cup Stadium, that match ended 1-0 to the visitors and practically confirmed that Kim Hak Bum’s men would be strutting their stuff with the elite in the top 6 instead of plugging away against the poorer cousins of the bottom 6 (which is probably where most expected them to find themselves at this point). It’s been a good season for Seongnam this year with successes in the ACL being supported by some good results and performances in the league. One of the main reasons for their high position in the table has been their results against the traditional ‘big four’ of Jeonbuk, Pohang, Suwon and Seoul. The three previous matches with Seoul have resulted in two 1-1 draws and the most recent 1-0 away victory in Seoul World Cup Stadium. The wily old Kim looks to have the better of his counterpart Choi Yong Soo again this year. This is a huge match for both teams but undoubtedly it’s bigger for Seongnam. Seoul have the FA Cup final to look forward to and you can’t see them blowing finals two years in a row in their own stadium. That leaves the final ACL spot being a face-off between Seongnam and Pohang which is why Seongnam really need to win this match against Seoul. They have won three in a row compared to Seoul’s two in the league plus Wednesday night’s FA Cup semi-final victory. The outcome of this match will probably come down to the performances of two or three players, performances from Kim Do Heon and Hwang Uijo will be essential for Seongnam and Seoul will be looking to Osmar and Adriano as the key men to shore up the defence and snatch a goal respectively. it should be a good game both in terms of tactics deployed by the coaches and passion on the pitch.

Prediction : Seongnam 1 Seoul 1