K-League Classic 2017 Round 23 Previews (Saturday Fixtures)

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?

Prediction: Home Win: Jeju 2 – Pohang 1

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 2017 – Round 8 Sunday Fixtures

Due to some heavy commitments there isn’t much time for full previews so below are my score predictions for today’s Super Sunday fixtures.

Jeonbuk to continue their good form in the league.

Away Win : Gwangju 0 – Jeonbuk 1

Jeju had a good result midweek and could just have too much for Bluewings.

Home Win : Jeju 2 – Bluewings 1

Daegu have been performing better than expected and Seoul have been poor.

Score Draw : Daegu 1 – Seoul 1

Both teams have been struggling of late. This has all the potential for a borefest or scorefest.

Away Win : Incheon 1 – Ulsan 2

K-League Classic 2017 Week 6 Previews

 

If there is one thing that we learned form Round 5 it’s that when football sucks it REALLY sucks as we witnessed only two wins last weekend with all four matches on the Saturday finishing with the points shared. The hotly anticipated Seoul/Jeju match in particular did more to increase alcohol sales then any 4 for 10,000W GS promo could never achieve. 

There are only two matches being played on the Saturday this weekend due to the midweek ACL exertions. 

Incheon United vs. Jeonnam Dragons @ 3pm

First up on Saturday is a trip to Incheon Football Stadium where Incheon United welcome bottom side Jeonnam Dragons to town in a battle of the ‘winless’. Incheon have lost twice and drawn three times so far this season but have played better than their record would suggest to be honest. They have shown a battling quality when needed but unfortunately have also been suicidal at the back at times. They lost 2-0 down at Pohang last Sunday although they played the whole 2nd half with ten men. Han Suk Jong was sent off in controversial circumstances and that red card has since been rescinded.  Jeonnam  have had an alarmingly poor start to the season losing all of their matches so far, shipping twelve goals in the process. Last weekend they lost in Daegu which could have been so much worse if Incheon hadn’t also lost. Last season Jeonnam were undefeated in this fixture and the head to head says they are pretty much on a par.
Prediction: Draw : Incheon 1 – Jeonnam 1

 

Pohang Steelers vs. Daegu @ 3pm

The second game of the day comes from The Steelyard as a resurgent Pohang Steelers host new boys Daegu. Pohang seem to have have managed to put last year’s horrendous season behind them and have had a pretty sweet start to the season winning three games while being the league’s highest scorers to boot with ten goals in five games. A lot of their success comes down to the goal scoring exploits of Yang Dong Hyun who has hit the net four times already. Daegu have surprised more than a few people this year with their performances so far and are undefeated since the opening game of the season with three draws before their victory over Jeonnam last weekend. They currently occupy 7th spot, only the solitary point adrift of Ulsan in 6th. Pohang won the last four meetings between the teams and in fact have only lost five times in thirty-two matches.
Prediction: Home Win : Pohang 2 – Incheon 1

Quickly on to the Super Sunday and we have Jeonbuk joining the four ACL teams in what should be a fantastic day of football….well unless like me you are at Tancheon!

 

Jeonbuk Hyundai vs. Sangju Sangmu @ 3pm

The first 3 o’clock kick off on Sunday comes from the Jeonju Civil Stadium as Jeonbuk play host to Sangju. Jeonbuk have started the season well and have won three and drawn two of their opening five  games as they bid to reclaim their crown. They have been blessed by some stellar performances from full-back Kim Jin Su who has made the official K-League ‘Team of the Week’ four out of the five so far. He has definitely been the ‘buy of the season’. They drew last week with The Wookie scoring, Kim Jin Su the supplier.  Sangju are replicating their fine 2016 form and are currently sitting pretty in 4th place after going undefeated since losing their opening match. They drew 0-0 at The Big Bird last weekend and definitely have players capable of pulling something special out the bag. Jeonbuk won both home ties last year with an emphatic 4-1 victory towards the end of the season

Prediction: Home Win : Jeonbuk 1 – Sangju 0

Jeju United vs. Gangwon @ 3pm

Next up we travel to the island paradise of Jeju and to Seogwipo, as Jeju United host Gangwon as league leaders take on 8th place. Jeju looked almost unbeatable in the early weeks of the season winning their opening three games also looking impressive in the ACL and it’s unfair to say the wheels have come off but their form of late hasn’t been great. They have drawn their last two league matches albeit against Jeonbuk and Seoul respectively but they lost 3-1 at home to Adelaide in the ACL midweek.  Gangwon haven’t won since the opening game of the season and all that pre-season bluster seems to be blowing up in their face. Last time the teams met was in 2013 with Gangwon winning 3-0 that day, although the head to head is slightly in Jeju’s favour.
Prediction: Home Win : Jeju 2 – Gangwon 1

Suwon Bluewings vs. Gwangju @ 3pm

Our third Super Sunday battle comes from The Big Bird of Suwon World Cup Stadium, where Suwon Bluewings welcome Gwangju. For a team predicted by many to be title contenders The Bluewings have been woeful in the league and are still searching for that elusive first league win. The have drawn four times and lost the other. However their ACL form has been much better with them hammering Hong Kong’s Eastern 5-0 during the week. Gwangju are one of those footballing enigmas, they aren’t great but the aren’t bad either, they are more than capable of pulling off an upset when they are on their game. They came from behind last weekend to snatch a point against Ulsan and might just have enough about to get something in this one too. They drew three times last year with Gwangju winning the fourth clash.

Prediction: Draw : Suwon 1 – Gwangju 1

Ulsan Hyundai vs. FC Seoul @ 3pm

The final game of the day and probably the highlight of the weekend comes from Ulsan as two ACL teams go head to head in the battle of 6th v 5th. Ulsan have had yet another mixed bag of a season, retching from the sublime to the downright ordinary.  They come into the match on the back of a 1-1 league draw at home to Gwangju and a confidence-destroying 1-0 defeat in Thailand in the ACL. With the players at their disposal there is no hiding from the fact they are under performing. Seoul  have also struggled this year and were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Jeju last weekend. They did come back from Australia with all 3pts after defeating WSW 3-2 but even that victory was marred as they conceded two late goals. Even though Dejan scored a brace in the match it was his Brazilian strike partner Maurinho who took all the plaudits as he put in a performance that could and should see him start this one. Seoul had the upper hand over their hosts last season wining twice, with both teams midweek exploits we could see a couple of tired teams on the pitch.
Prediction: Draw : Ulsan 1 – Seoul 1

K-League Classic 2017 Week 5 Predictions

 

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.

Prediction: Draw : Daegu 1 – Jeonnam 1

K-League Classic 2017 Week 3 Predictions

 

Week 2 of the K-League saw the Super J’s of Jeonbuk and Jeju United continue on their winning ways with huge wins over the Bluewings and Ulsan respectively, even at this early stage they do both look a cut above the rest in the league. Seoul came back from the ski jump resort with a win and Jeonnam had another dismal day at work as they fell to a confidence-sapping 3-1 defeat at home to the Army with Joo Min Kyu netting his first goal of his military service.

 

Son Heung Min excited about Week 3 of the K-League

K-League Classic 2017 Week 3 Previews and Predictions

 

Gangwon vs. Pohang Steelers @ 3pm

Depending on where you look this match may or may not be postponed but I’ll preview it just in case, it’s our second trip of the season to the Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium as Gangwon welcome Pohang to the Korean Alps. Last weekend didn’t go according to plan for the newly promoted Classic team as FC Seoul came to town and left with all 3pts. A lot of the talk was about the goings on off the pitch as there were more than one or two issues for those hoping to see their heroes. On the pitch it was a pretty dour affair and neither team could have complained about a scoreless draw. Yet again a poor pitch played a huge part in the proceedings and with an extra week (or more if the match is truly postponed) hopefully things will be better. Pohang grabbed their first points of 2017 with a 2-0 home victory over Gwangju courtesy of a Yang Dong Hyun brace. Last year they were woefully inconsistent, they will need to rectify that if they want to avoid another year in the doldrums of the Relegation Group.  The head to head is totally in Pohang’s favour, with the last two matches seeing them rack up seven goals with no reply.

Prediction: Away Win : Gangwon 1 – Pohang 2

Incheon United vs. Jeonbuk Hyundai @ 3pm

The other match on Saturday sees a rather fragile and shaky looking Incheon host Jeonbuk in what will probably be a ‘backs to the wall’ performance from the home team. Incheon haven’t looked great in their opening two games of the season, but, just like last season, they showed their spirit with a  comeback from 2 goals down against Daegu last week. They’ve looked like leaking goals almost every time a team attacks them but are definitely capable of grabbing the odd goal themselves. Last week they had Kim Dae Kyung to thank for saving their blushes as his last minute penalty sent them back up the road with a point. Jeonbuk have had a perfect start to the 2017 season beating both Jeonnam and Suwon Bluewings, with the latter barely requiring them to break sweat. They easily brushed Bluewings aside at The Big Bird with goals from Kim Bo Kyung and Lee Jae Sung making even the most ardent Leonardo fan begin to forget him. The match was marred by a shocking challenge on Lee Seung Ki, but Jeonbuk do look every bit the title challengers and it’s already looking like it will take something special to stop them marching to the title. Last time out Jeonbuk beat Incheon 3-1 however over the years the head-to-head record is pretty even.

Prediction: Away Win : Incheon 1 – Jeonbuk 2

Ulsan Hyundai vs. Sangju Sangmu @ 3pm

The first game of ‘Super Sunday’ comes from Ulsan as they take on the Army side of Sangju Sangmu as 8th hosts 4th. Ulsan come into the match short of confidence having lost 3-0 last weekend in the league against Jeju United and then drawing at home to Muangthong United in the ACL. That annihilation of Brisbane Roar is already paling into the background and it is exactly this inconsistency which plagued their fans last year. It has now been over 180 mins since they last hit the net and although not exactly time to run panicking into the night it is something of a concern.  Sangju are level on points with Ulsan after bouncing back from losing week one by romping Jeonnam 3-1 last weekend with the highlight being that Joo Min Kyu strike.  The two teams are evenly matched and it could be a really tight match. Ulsan have had it easy over their previous meetings with 24 wins from 36 matches but interestingly it was honors even last year, one thing is for sure there should be goals as both teams have lethal forwards.

Prediction: Score Draw : Ulsan 1 – Sangju 1

Suwon Bluewings vs. Daegu @ 3pm

Next up we have our second visit of the season to Suwon World Cup Stadium as The Bluewings take on Daegu in a match which on paper the hosts should be winning every time. Suwon, like 2016, have had a poor start to their league season drawing the ‘Super Match’ in week 1 and then losing at home last weekend to Jeonbuk. They beat Eastern in the ACL 1-0 during the week but even that was somewhat closer than it should have been and took the introduction of Johnathan and Yeom from the bench to garner the win. They were incredibly pedestrian against Jeonbuk last weekend and look as though the same ailments from last season are still afflicting them. Daegu lost their opening game and then last weekend let a 2 goal lead slip to draw against Incheon to draw 2-2. Their goals came from Leo and Cesinha but it will be that lapse at the back which will be playing on their minds come kick-off. Suwon won 2-0 back in August 2013 when they last met and over the head to head haven’t lost since 2009.
Prediction: Home Win : Bluewings 2 – Daegu 0

FC Seoul vs. Gwangju @ 3pm

The final 3 o’clock kick off on Sunday comes from the Seoul World Cup Stadium, and features FC Seoul versus  Gwangju. FC Seoul rught now look a team devoid of confidence, creativity and guile as they suffered a 3rd straight ACL defeat mid-week and all but resigned themselves to crashing out of the group stages.  In the league they’ve notched up four points from their opening two games but have impressed nobody in either game. Dejan was the hero last week down in Gangwon and he is always going to be Mr. Reliable but it is the performance of Yoo Hyun in goals that is proving costly to the Champions. Gwangju won their opening game but lost last weekend down in The Steelyard and although they are a plucky team they do lack that killer ball and little bit of imagination that wins matches. Seoul won all four games last year and even though they are struggling for form it would be folly to look beyond them repeating the same feat this year too.
Prediction: Home Win : Seoul 2 – Gwangju 0

Jeju United vs. Jeonnam Dragons @ 5pm

Rounding off the weekend we have the late afternoon Sunday game from the Jeju World Cup Stadium between Jeju United and Jeonnam Dragons. Jeju traveled to Adelaide during the week on ACL duty and came back with a credible draw although having led twice in the match they might feel that it was more two points lost than one gained. They’ve had a perfect start to the Classic this year with two wins from two and look very much like the only team who will push Jeonbuk for the title. Not only are they scoring for fun but they are still to concede in the league. It is going forward though they they look incredible and are capable of scoring from almost anywhere on the pitch.  Jeonnam are the complete mirror image of that and have had the worst possible start to the season with two defeats from two. They might have felt bad after losing the Jeolla Derby in the last minute but losing 3-1 at home to Sangju was unacceptable and they rightly languish at the foot of the table. The head to head is reasonably split with Jeju just edging it, last time out though it was Jeju who emerged the victors winning 5-3 back in October.
Prediction: Home Win : Jeju 2 – Jeonnam 0

K-League Classic 2017 Week 2 Predictions

Last week was the opening weekend of the 2017 K-League season and it raised several talking points from poor pitches to shocking strips, petulant players to fabulous free-kicks, disappointing draws to last-minute losers.  This week we have the first match ever to be played in a ski-jump resort, the battle of two high-flying ACL teams and the always eventful first trip to the Big Bird for Jeonbuk. It’s shaping up to be a cracker!!

The K-League Classic 2017 Round 2 – Previews

 

 v 

Daegu vs. Incheon United @ 2pm

The early kick-off on Saturday sees newcomers Daegu welcome Incheon Unitd to town in a clash which is more than likely going to be regarded as a relegation dogfight in the final rounds of the season.  The match will mark Daegu’s first home Classic game in four years as they epitomize the struggles teams can face when they make the dreaded ‘drop down a division’. They lost last weekend against Gwangju as they fell to a first half strike from Cho Sung Jun but in fairness it was a pretty dire affair. They will need to put in a few sterling performances over the year if they are to avoid being the latest yo-yo club in Korea with home form being the key to putting up a challenge. Incheon also lost last weekend at home to Jeju in what was a lot closer a match than many had predicted. They will be another team that will need to get big results and you get the feeling that after being close the last couple of years this might just be their year for the playoffs. Daegu generally struggle in this tie and you have to go back five calendar years for their last victory.
Prediction: Away Win : Daegu 0 –  Incheon 1

Suwon Bluewings vs. Jeonbuk Hyundai @ 3pm

Undoubtedly the game of the day on Saturday will take place at  Suwon World Cup Stadium as Jeonbuk come to town in what are generally close and hotly contested affairs. Bluewings visited Seoul last weekend in the ‘Super Match’ and will probably have been slightly disappointed that they drew 1-1 after leading for most of the first half courtesy of a Lee Min Woo strike. The normally reliable Johnathon had a bit of a nightmare match as he had more than a couple of chances to put Suwon out of sight but snatched at each one. They were prone to throwing away victories last season and that does look like it could haunt them again this year. Jeonbuk won the Jeolla Derby on Sunday on a ridiculously unplayable pitch, they led through Kim Jin Su but it took a last minute winner from The Wookie to seal the points after debut-boy Fecsezin had bundled the ball over the line to equalize for Jeonnam. It really was tough to judge them such was the state of the pitch so this one might give us more of an insight into how strong they’ll be this year. Jeonbuk had the upper hand in 2016 but then Bluewings were utterly honking for most of last season.

Prediction: Score Draw : Bluewings 2 – Jeonbuk 2

Jeju United vs. Ulsan Hyundai @ 3pm

Just like The Supermatch  last week we have another all Asian Champions League battle this week between arguably the two in-form Korean teams right now of Jeju and Ulsan. Jeju come into the match having won their opening game on their travels against a plucky  Incheon but it was by far their destruction of Gamba Osaka in Japan that has caught the eye. The winning goal last week came from new boy  Magno Cruz, but the victory was marred by the late sending off of Park Jin Po for a double yellow card. Ulsan also won last weekend beating Pohang with a Jung Jae Yong brace securing the win. Ulsan have looked impressive so far with new signing Orsic looking like he is going to have a major role in their tactics. The matches have been close over the last few years although Jeju have the slight upper hand and are always tough at home. There is a lot of firepower on both sides and this one could be a high-scoring affair.

Prediction: Home Win : Jeju 2 – Ulsan 1

 v 

Gangwon vs. FC Seoul @ 3pm

The final match on Saturday is also the first of a kind as it will become the first  game of the season from the Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium which will be the 2017 home of Gangwon FC. A lot of the close-season focus has been on Gangwon as they have brought in several key players so it was fitting that they won their opening game of the season beating the Army 2-1. That match saw Lee Keun-Ho score both goals against his old side either side of a Kim Ho Nam strike. With their ticket pricing being based on opposition it will be interesting to see how many fans make the trip. Seoul drew their opening game 1-1 in the Super Match against Suwon Bluewings and had ex-Suwon favorite Lee Sang Ho to thank as he pounced on a Yun Il Rok shot to poke the ball over the line. Seoul haven’t exactly been on fire so far this year and in fact look both slow and predictable in midfield and up front. They might struggle again today against a team who feel like they have a lot to prove in the season ahead. It’s been four years since they last met with Seoul the conquerors back then.
Prediction: Score Draw : Gangwon 1 – Seoul 1

There are also two matches being played on the Sunday.

 

 v 

Jeonnam v Sangju

The first of Sunday’s games sees the two surprise teams of 2016 go head to head for the first time this year as Jeonnam Dragons welcome Sangju to town. Both teams had unexpected top-six finishes last year and it will be interesting to see if they can build on that this year. Jeonnam didn’t have the best of starts to 2017, losing the Jeolla Derby to Jeonbuk with virtually the last touch of the ball. They are pretty much the dark horse of the Classic, flying under the radar of big name signings but building a team that is often tough to beat. Sangju also lost 2-1 last week, falling at home to Gangwon. On paper though they seem to have a stronger squad than last season with some ‘big hitters’ opting for military service this year. They should be able to keep themselves up the table once they all find their feet…and their teammate. Over the years Jeonnam have had by far the upper hand in this fixture winning twenty-one of the thirty-five matches played, it wouldn’t be surprising for this one to follow that same pattern.

Prediction: Home Win : Jeonnam 2 – Sangju 1

 

Pohang v Gwangju 

The second game of the day comes from the Steelyard as probably the most disappointing team of 2016 gets set to welcome Gwangju to the POSCO grounds. Pohang cut a forlorn figure much of last year and given their opening weekend defeat to Ulsan it looks like they might yet again resemble the bridesmaid that can’t get a dance. They didn’t really seem at the races last week and given the size and stature of the club another year in the bottom six isn’t going to wash with fans and owners alike.  Gwangju won their opening match but it was against newly promoted and relegation favourites Daegu so it might not really be a sign of things to come.  The game won’t win ‘match of the day’ anytime soon and it was one of those games where the final whistle was welcomed with as big a cheer as the single goal. The Gwangju fixture might just be Pohang’s ‘goto match’ as they have lost only once in thirteen meetings and you have to go all the way back to 2006 for that solitary Gwangju victory, stranger things have happened in football….but not many.
Prediction: Home Win : Pohang 1 – Gwangju 0