K-League Classic 2017 Round 31 Predictions – Saturday Fixtures.

The K-League Classic Round 28 Predictions – Saturday Fixtures

Last week saw a rather surprising set of results as first Seoul fell to Incheon on Sunday before the all-conquering Jeonbuk crashed to a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of the Army on Wednesday. Wednesday actually saw one of, if not THE, highest scoring round of fixtures in my time in Korea as 25 goals were scored in a set of fixtures which  had some rather choice defending and some incredibly poor goalkeeping…. Shin Hwa Yong I’m looking at you. 

This weekend sees another round of fixtures that could have huge implications at both ends of the table. On Saturday we have…..

Incheon United vs. Suwon Bluewings @ 6pm

First up we have a Derby match as Incheon welcome Suwon Bluewings to home in what are usually fiercely contested battles. Incheon, amazingly,  are unbeaten in their last six matches and even more amazingly have only conceded the one goal which was against Sangju. They have chosen the exact right time to find form as they find themselves locked in a four-way battle to avoid the playoffs. They defeated rivals Seoul last Sunday, Song Si Woo being the last minute hero that day. Suwon have watched their slim title hopes dwindle away ever since Johnathan got injured against Seoul and have lost three of their last five with the most recent being a 3-2 defeat at home to Jeju United. That game witnessed one of the worst goalkeeping errors I’ve seen as a long punt up the pitch somehow bounced past the hapless Shin in goal. When you are missing the league’s best striker it’s not wise to give your opponents a goal of a start. Suwon haven’t lost this fixture this year and romped home 3-0 winners the last time they met….but then Johnathan scored a fantastic brace that day!

Prediction:  Away Win : Incheon 1 – Suwon  2

Ulsan Hyundai vs. Jeonnam Dragons @ 6pm

Next up on Saturday is a match which should be as easy to predict as my drink of choice in a Soju tent in Yeouido as Ulsan and Jeonnam clash. Ulsan are strong at home and are enjoying a relatively solid patch of form with one the one defeat in the last two months, although it’s probably the draws that are hampering their title charge. They have found their shooting boots of late and you have to go all the way back to early July for the last time they failed to find the net. They sit just 6pts adrift of Jeonbuk and a win today could heap the pressure on them.  Jeonnam are quite the the polar opposite of Ulsan, they have lost three in of their last five and in fact haven’t won since the start of August. They are getting dragged into the playoff battle but unlike Incheon and Daegu they don’t really look like tough opponents. Ulsan will definitely be favorites here even though Jeonnam destroyed them 5-0 earlier in the season.

Prediction:  Home Win: Ulsan 2 – Jeonnam 0

Sangju Sangmu vs. Jeju United @ 7pm

The final match on Saturday sees Sangju Sangmu and Jeju United face off after both teams recorded vital victories midweek. Sangju dug deep to come back from 1-0 down at Jeonbuk as first Joo Min Kyu then Kim Ho Nam found the net to give them a much needed 3pts. Joo’s goal has seen the campaign to get him in the National Team getting mentioned again as he is beginning to find his feet in the army and ultimately the Classic. They still have a long way to go to secure a place at next season’s top table but that is now two wins in a row and an 11pt gap over Gwangju.  Their opponents today though are THE in-form team of the moment, and have won eight and drawn two of their last ten games. It’s that kind of form that’s been needed to keep pace with Jeonbuk and after midweek Jeju find themselves only 3pts behind the league leaders. A win today would heap a whole lot of pressure on the boys from Jeonju and as we saw last year they don’t exactly excel under pressure. Jeju again had the form of Yoon Bitgaram to thank for their winning ways and the decision to bring him back in the summer is proving to be a cracking piece of business. Jeju have won the previous two meetings by three goals, 3-0 and 4-1 but today could be a little closer.

Prediction:  Away Win : Sangju 1 – Jeju 2

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K-League Classic 2017 Round 29 Predictions – Saturday Fixtures

The K-League Classic Round 28 Predictions – Saturday Fixtures

With the split fast approaching we are entering that period where every point becomes a prisoner as some teams look to define their season by which half of the table they finish in. For Gangwon, failure to land a top six spot would be embarrassing after their pre-season wheelings and dealings, for Pohang it would confirm that last year wasn’t a blip and they are in fact no longer a giant of Korean football. Of course for others the split throws up different concerns with Jeonbuk aiming for a title and Gwangju aiming for survival.

 

This Saturday we see a massive clash at the bottom while Gangwon and Suwon have the chance to put some pressure on those teams above them.

Gangwon vs. Jeonnam Dragons @ 3pm

The early game on Saturday afternoon is between two of the sides that are vying for probably the final spot in the Championship Group as 6th placed Gangwon and 8th placed Jeonnam Dragons clash.  Gangwon lost at the weekend to Jeonbuk Hyundai in what can only be described as a goal-fest as the fans were treated to a 4-3 win for the league leaders and an incredible seven minute hat-trick from Lee Seung Ki. Gangwon have continued their early season erratic form and have only two wins from their last five. They are still managerless and it’s safe to say the ‘Orange Experiment’ hasn’t exactly been a roaring success. They do sit 6pts clear in sixth place though and should really see themselves happy come the split. Jeonnam also lost last weekend as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Suwon Bluewings. Their form has been poor of late and they now have only one win from five. Jeonnam haven’t lost this year to Gangwon and there have been goals in both games, there should be more today.

 

Prediction:  Home Win : Gangwon 2 – Jeonnam 0

Sangju Sangmu vs. Gwangju @ 7pm

The second game of the day, and one of the final evening kick-offs of 2017,  is a huge match at the foot of the table as the bottom two teams meet. Sangju got yet another pasting last weekend as they were defeated 4-2 by Ulsan and you have to almost go back to the pre-Trump era to find their last win! They have been a real disappointment and now that they are beginning to drip feed players back to their parent clubs they can only get worse. Gwangju find themselves 5 pts below Sangju going into the match but at least managed to stop their losing streak when they drew last weekend vs. Incheon. They, like Sangju, have been woeful all season and you get the feeling that the players have resigned themselves to a season in The Challenge next year. Sangju have won both matches this year and might just have the mental edge….but then again Gwangju have Kim Hak Bum pulling the reins now and he doesn’t like to lose.

 

Prediction:  Draw : Sangju 0 – Gwangju 0

Daegu vs. Suwon Bluewings @ 7pm

The final game of the day is a clash which on paper should be a forgone conclusion but in reality has all the potential to see an upset as Daegu welcome The Bluewings to town. Daegu seem to have freed themselves, slightly, from the shackles of the relegation battle and Suwon are still hoping for a league and cup double however unlikely that may be. Daegu come into the match on the back of a huge victory over Pohang in a game with as many red cards as goals. They are undefeated in four games and their Brazilian coach Andre really has them difficult to beat while dangerous on the front foot.  Bluewings got a much needed win last weekend what they skelped Jeonnam 3-0 with the diminutive Santos among the goals. There were huge concerns for the blue massive after Jonathan’s injury but the 2014 Golden Boot winner has stepped up to the plate to ease their fears. Bluewings won the last fixture 3-0 but this one should be closer.

Prediction: Away Win: Daegu 1 – Bluewings 2

K-League Classic Round 2017 25 Previews – (Saturday Fixtures)

The K-League Classic 2017 Round 25 Predictions – Saturday Fixtures

After another round of mid-week fixtures Jeonbuk are beginning to open a gap at the top which while not unassailable just yet definitely puts them well on their way to another K-League crown. On a ridiculously hot and humid night they coasted to a 3-1 victory in Incheon while nearest challengers, Suwon and Ulsan, played out a 1-1 draw. There were also victories for Jeju, Seoul and Jeonnam on a surprisingly well-attended night in the Classic.

Moving onto the weekend’s action, below are some brief previews and predictions for Saturday’s clasehes.

Daegu vs. FC Seoul @ 7pm

The first game of the day comes from Daegu Stadium where Daegu host a rather resurgent FC Seoul in what has become a tight contest between the teams this year. Daegu lost on Wednesday, falling 2-0  away to Jeju, but had won their two games prior to that. They have however lost the creative presence of Leo after his move to Busan and this could start to hit them going into the final stretch.  They find themselves in the thick of the relegation battle and every point right now is a prisoner.  They have done well against this weekend’s visitors however and did indeed defeat Seoul at home earlier this season. FC Seoul bounced back from their defeat at the hands of Jeonbuk by easily defeating Gangwon 3-1 at home on Wednesday, which makes it four wins from their last five games. Much has been made of Dejan’s recent form but it would also seem that Yun Il Lok is finally beginning to show the potential that almost won him a move to Europe a few years ago. As mentioned earlier, the two previous encounters this year have been close but you get the feeling that Seoul have the bit between their teeth now in their pursuit of the final ACL spot for 2018.

Prediction: Away Win : Daegu 0 – Seoul 1

Incheon United vs. Jeju United @ 7pm

The second game of the day is between the two Uniteds as Incheon and Jeju meet in a hugely important match for both sides as bottom meets fourth. Incheon have been woeful of late and have only managed to win three times all season. They were, yet again, easily beaten on Wednesday by leaders Jeonbuk as a Conor Chapman OG was followed by an Edu brace before a late Kim Young Hwan consolation. They look shaky at the back, stagnant in the middle and impotent upfront and are seriously in danger of surrendering their place at the top table.  Jeju continued their recent run of form by beat Daegu on Wednesday for their third win on the bounce which kept them 3pts clear of Seoul. They can thank Yoon Bitgaram for their return to form as he has been instrumental since returning from China, which kind of begs the question of just how unstoppable Jeonbuk could’ve been if they had snared him as planned. These matches are generally tight and this will be another close one.

Prediction:  Away Win : Incheon 1 – Jeju 2

Gwangju vs. Suwon Bluewings @ 7pm

The final game on Saturday is a practice run for next week’s FA Cup Quarter Finals as  Suwon Bluewings head South to face Gwangju. Gwangju put up a brave showing midweek and were unlucky to lose on their visit to The Steelyard to play Pohang. They look like a team that are ready to battle to stay in the Classic and won’t go down without a fight. In saying that they have lost four of their last five matches. Bluewings on the other hand are in fantastic form winning four and drawing one of their last five games. They drew away from home against third placed Ulsan on Wednesday and will maybe feel that they should have sneaked full points towards the end. In Jonathan they have a prolific, if a little selfish, striker and although most things go through him they do have threats in other areas.  They’re generally pretty solid away from home and easily won the last clash between the teams. Another Jonathan-inspired victory wouldn’t be a surprise this weekend.

Prediction: Away Win: Gwangju  0 – Suwon 2

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 2017 Round 12 Previews – Saturday Fixtures

The K-League Classic 2017 Round 12 Previews

This weekend sees the first round of evening fixtures as the heat gets too much for running around in the afternoon, although based on some recent performances we could have delayed it a little longer.

The League table going into Week 12

 

Ulsan Hyundai vs. Jeonnam Dragons @ 6pm

First up is the clash between Ulsan Hyundai and Jeonnam Dragons as two of the best performing teams of late clash. Ulsan started their 2017 campaign rather poorly but have since mounted an assault on the top of the table and have mustered three wins in the last four. They draw 0-0 against Jeonbuk last weekend but continued their strong run of form midweek by dispatching runaway Challenge leaders Gyeongnam from the FA Cup. Jeonnam have stuttered a little in the league recently and fell to a crushing 3-1 home defeat to Suwon Bluewings last week. They did however win in the cup on Wednesday as they knocked Daejeon out courtesy of a 2-1 victory. Jeonnam utterly embarrassed Ulsan last time out as they battered them 5-0, Jair the hero that day.

Prediction: Home Win : Ulsan  2 – Jeonnam 1

FC Seoul vs. Gangwon @ 7pm

The 1st of the 7 o’clock game comes from Seoul World Cup Stadium as FC Seoul host Gangwon in a match they hope will bring some much needed smile to their supporter’s faces. Out the ACL, trailing in the league, all eyes were on the FA Cup as they hoped to make it four finals in four years. Alas that wasn’t to be as they lost on penalties to a plucky Busan team to potentially consign themselves to a first trophy-less season since 2014. They come into the game on the back of a 2-2 draw away to Sangju in a match they twice came from behind in. Gangwon have begun to look a little better in the league over the past couple of weeks and have won two in a row, that ‘purple patch’ however was halted midweek as they crashed out of the cup at home to Seongnam FC. When the teams met in early March it was Seoul who emerged the victors as they came home with a 1-0 victory, a similarly tight contest again wouldn’t surprise anyone.

Prediction:  Home Win : Seoul 1 – Gangwon 0

Sangju Sangmu vs. Suwon Bluewings @ 7pm

Next up we have 8th versus 5th as Sangju Sangmu welcome Suwon Bluewings to town. Sangju slipped out of the top half of the table last weekend as they were held at home to Seoul, although in fairness that result did see them stop a two game losing streak becoming three. They gathered themselves together midweek to beat challenge side Bucheon and knock them out of the FA Cup in what was being tipped, by some, as a potential ‘giant killing’ for Bucheon. The Bluewings have won four from the last five in the league and find themselves above rivals FC Seoul in the table for the first time in quite a while. They won at Jeonnam last week as forgotten man Santos reminded Seo Jung Won exactly why he won the Golden Boot a mere three seasons ago. The last time the teams met it finished 0-0 and there really isn’t much between the two on paper.

Prediction : Draw : Sangju 1 Bluewings 1

 

Daegu vs. Jeju United @ 7pm

The final game on Saturday evening is a top v bottom clash as lowly Daegu host 2nd placed Jeju United. Daegu have now lost three games in a row and are firmly caught up in the relegation battle as many expected. They aren’t actually as poor a team as their league position would suggest and have scored twice the number of goals that 10th placed Gwangju have, but it’s their inability to keep the ball out of their own net that is costing them dearly. Jeju stumbled last weekend as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Pohang. That was only their 2nd defeat of the season and will more than likely be seen by most as merely a blip. They are an incredibly dangerous team and given the aforementioned defensive frailties of Daegu, could run up the proverbial cricket score this weekend.  The last time the teams met it was a rip-roaring 4-2 victory for Jeju with all six goals coming from foreign players.

Prediction : Away Win : Daegu 1 – Jeju 3

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