So, it’s the weekend and in South Korea, like most other countries, that means top-flight football, from the K League. Hooray!
If you haven’t seen it there were midweek matches too, you can read all about them here.
Moving back to the games ahead and there is one match that everyone is buzzing about. Well, I am at least. No, it’s not 10th placed Jeonnam Dragons vs seventh-placed Ulsan Hyundai. It’s first vs second. It’s Jeonbuk vs Suwon. It’s an early potential title-deciding six-pointer.
But before we get to that game, let’s do this in chronological order. Let’s start with the early kick-off tomorrow.
Bottom of the table Daegu play Jeju United who sit in fourth. While Daegu are in poor form Jeju is not unbeatable. Jeju don’t score that many, but they don’t let in that many either, second place in both of those categories actually. A draw isn’t impossible from this match and that would be a very welcome point for Daegu as it could potentially move them off the bottom. As for Jeju a win, or even a point, could see them move to third.
It’s been a very poor start for Seoul this campaign and they only have nine points from the opening nine matches. On the other half stands Sangju Sangmu who have started much better with thirteen points and two wins on the bounce. Seoul need a win here to not drift too far back in the battle for the top six before the league splits after 22 games. If you don’t know exactly how the K League works I encourage you to read the first roundup where I explained it in greater detail. Sangju need a win to guarantee their place in the top six after this round and could also, if results go their way, bump up to third place.
Yet another match between a team with a poor start and one with a decent one is the aforementioned Jeonnam Dragons v Ulsan Hyundai clash. Ulsan currently sit seventh and are, apart from Suwon and Jeonbuk, the team in best form in the entire league right now. Jeonnam are third from bottom but beat Seoul last time out, which could have given them a little boost. However, with the form they’re in (4-1-0 from the last five) it is difficult to see Ulsan outright losing this. Jeonnam might be able to grab a point, but the better bet would be to go for an Ulsan win.
Then there is the big one. On Sunday the early kick-off is between first-placed Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and second-placed Suwon Samsung Bluewings. Both teams have only lost once this season, but Suwon have two draws to Jeonbuk’s none, which is the only thing differencing the two sides. The four-point gap Jeonbuk have built up due to those draws could either come right down to one point or be stretched to a very large seven point divide. Should Jeonbuk win they have a very solid platform to continue their title charge from and while it will be very far from over, that gap could prove crucial in the end.
Next up is another middle of the pack battle as Gangwon host Pohang Steelers. Gangwon are only one point behind Pohang but are three places behind in the table, that’s how close it is around the split. Gangwon are in eight and Pohang in fifth and neither is in great form. Only one win and four losses from the last five is the record for both teams and looking at it like that a draw is very logical, to keep the equality going.
I’ve seen people suggest Incheon United turned a corner despite the 3-2 loss to Suwon last weekend. Since that they lost 2-1 to Ulsan and have the worst record in the league right now. I don’t think that corner has been turned quite yet. A win against fellow out-of-form side Gyeongnam could however, prove a proper morale boost for the second-to-bottom team. Gyeongnam are the newly promoted side and started very brightly but have faded ever so slightly since then, however they are still third in the league but a win here is probably a must to keep that position. A loss for Gyeongnam could be the beginning of the real descent and a loss for Incheon could mean they go bottom of the table. This stinks of a draw to be honest.