ACL 2018 Group Stages – Round 1 Preview

Asian Champions League 2018 – Group Stages – Match 1

This week sees the first round of the Group Stages of the 2018 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”. As always expectations are high and following last year’s pretty embarrassing showing in the groups it will be interesting to see if we will see a bit more from the K-League representatives this year. Most Korean eyes will be on Jeonbuk and Suwon, with Jeonbuk having it all to prove after being kicked out at the last minute last year….will Tiago and Adriano be enough to se them throgh? Will Dejan be the talisman Suwon need to push for ACL glory? There’s not long to wait now until those questions are answered.

First up we have the two matches on Tuesday…

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A Trip To Suwon – A Birthday, A Tenor and Some VAR

A Trip to Suwon : A Birthday, A Tenor and Some VAR

When faced with the task of getting the missus a birthday present that she’ll remember for a year some men think of bling, pefumes or hopping on a plane. For me I plumped for a bus ride down to Suwon and taking her to Suwon Bluewings v Ulsan Hyundai….and they say that romance is dead. In fairness she is something of a closet Bluewings fan and there really are only so many Seongnam matches that you can put someone through before they crack. And so it was then that we gave an afternoon of eating desserts in a coffee shop the cold shoulder and headed off to watch the ‘top six’ clash.

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K-League Classic 2017 Round 26 Previews – Sunday Fixtures

K-League Classic 2017 Round 26 Previews – Sunday Fixtures

Yesterday was ‘Derby Day’ in the K-League as we had the Jeolla Derby and The Supermatch with the former finishing in a 1-1 draw. The Supermatch was played in front of almost 30,000 at Suwon World Cup Stadium with a rather embarrassing Kwak Kwang Seon OG giving FC Seoul the victory. There was also a much-needed 2-1 victory for Incheon United as they won away at Sangju in a result which pulls the Army team right into the relegation fight

Moving onto today’s action below are brief previews and predictions for this Sunday’s clashes. 

Gwangju vs. Daegu @ 7pm

The first game of the day is a huge  relegation battle between bottom side Gwangju and tenth placed Daegu in what will undoubtedly be a tense affair. Gwangju crashed out of the cup mid-week after taking Suwon Bluewings to extra time and will certainly be less rested than their opponents.  In the league they’ve been incredibly poor and have only managed the one win in the last five or so. They signed Irishman Niall McGinn to help keep them in the Classic but he hasn’t featured since their victory over Jeonnam. They will need to find inspiration and soon if they are to avoid facing E-Land and Daejeon next year.  Daegu have been playing reasonably well of late and have picked up seven points from their last four games including a hard-fought draw against FC Seoul last weekend. They are a good team on their day but tend to keep those performances for teams with a bigger reputation, it will be interesting to see if they can raise their game for the trip to Gwangju and indeed they lost here earlier in the season.

Prediction:  Score Draw : Gwangju 1 – Daegu 1

Ulsan Hyundai vs. Pohang Steelers @ 7pm

The second game of the day is also the highlight game as Ulsan welcome Pohang to town in what is, I guess, a Southern Derby. Ulsan are performing better this year than last and are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup after knocking Sangju out midweek. In the league they are also looking strong and inflicted defeat on leaders Jeonbuk in the Hyundai Derby last weekend, Lee Jong Ho scoring against his old team. They have a good squad and unlike other teams in The Classic they do tend to play as a unit more than relying on individuals. As commented many times on here Pohang are all over the place right now and  have only one win in six which was a victory over Gwangju. They drew 1-1 at home with Jeonnam last weekend and look a team that is lacking confidence and belief. They also lost Kim Seung Dae to a rather ridiculous five match suspension after he was red carded against Jeonnam. It’s safe to day nothing is going right for The Steelmen right now. Ulsan have both the clashes so far this season and on current form a repeat would certainly seem the logical bet today.

 

Prediction:  Home win : Ulsan 2 – Pohang 1

Gangwon vs. Jeju United @ 7pm

The final game on Sunday comes from the the Ski jumping slopes of Gangwon as 6th place hosts 4th in a clash which might just go some way towards the final ACL spots.  Gangwon finally put an end to their losing run as they defeated the much maligned Sangju (I feel everyone has beaten Sangju in the last month) and as a result they still occupy a place in The Championship Group. They are so inconsistent this year that you wouldn’t put money on them still being there come the split.  Jeju have found form again and have now won three of their last four games although were unable to beat a dogged Incheon last weekend. They are still sniffing around the ACL spots and after yesterday’s results might just feel they have a chance at the title yet. Both these clashes have ended in 2-1 victories for Gangwon, could today be Jeju’s turn for revenge?

Prediction:  Score Draw : Gangwon 1 – Jeju 1

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 2017 Round 16 Previews – Sunday Fixtures

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.

Prediction:  Home Win : Jeonbuk 2 – Daegu 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