With only three games to go until the split things are getting tighter and points becoming more valuable. There’s a six-pointer and a couple of must-wins. First up is…..
Incheon v Pohang
On paper this one should be an easy call for Pohang. But they’ve begun to show signs of cracking under the pressure of late and are now in third and 7 pts behind league leaders Jeonbuk. If they are to have any chance of retaining their crown they need to start winning and winning big as their goal difference pales in comparison to Jeonbuk’s. Incheon should feel some respite now from relegation and with the lower half teams all with difficult games will be hoping to put some more light between them and the rest. Ivo, as always, will be pivotal to any chances they have of getting something from the Steelers. Hoping to attend this one so looking for some goals.
Suwon v Jeonnam
Suwon will be buoyed after their ‘Supermatch’ win last weekend. They have been dark horses for most of the season, building on their strong home form with some good away results and are now sitting, rather unexpectedly, in 2nd place five points adrift of Jeonbuk. This is a game they will probably believe they should be winning, and being at home you would be hard pushed to bet against them . Jeonnam’s league record is won 13, drew 5, lost 12 and that sums up their Jekyll and Hyde season. They are either great or poor, confident or a wreck. They started the season incredibly well and although few people probably thought they could keep up the momentum they will not want it to all be in vain by dropping out the top half before the split.
Gyeongnam v Seongnam
The 4pm kick-off sees Gyeongnam take on Seongnam in probably the most important match in the bottom half of the table so far this season. This is a six-pointer for sure. Gyeongnam sit 1pt above Seongnam and 2 from the bottom spot thanks to two great results in the last two weeks, a last-gasp victory over Pohang and a draw away to Jeonnam. They looked dead and buried only a couple of weeks ago and while they are only one bad result from falling back into the clutches of the walking dead, look the most confident of the bottom four. Seongnam lost at home to Jeonbuk last weekend and although the result was not unexpected the manner of the defeat was. They looked like a team void of ideas and imagination and put up little fight against the 10 men of the league leaders. They’ll need to find that fight from somewhere otherwise they could find themselves facing the drop.
Sunday serves up three matches which pit top half against bottom, all three are must win games for each team involved although different rewards await each of the victors. First up we have …
Busan v Jeju
Busan have it all to play for between now and the end of the season. They sit joint bottom with Sangju and have looked a sorry lot at times this season. Relying heavily on Fagner for inspiration and goals they are a little one-dimensional. They seem to save their best performances for teams in the top half though having drawn with Jeonbuk, Suwon and Pohang. You get the feeling that they just need a little luck or something to spark them into life. Jeju, on the other hand, have gone from the sublime in the 6-2 slaughtering of Jeonnam to a rather limp 2-0 defeat at home to Incheon. They are comfortable in 4th and don’t look likely to fall out the promotion group when we split so I think they will just ride this out.
Jeonbuk v Ulsan
Having watched Jeonbuk last weekend at Seongnam they look like they are going to have enough to get over the line in the title race. Whether they are playing good football and scoring for fun or grinding out 1-0 wins they seem to have it all. Always backed by a reasonably sized crowd home or away they are looking favourites for a good reason. Ulsan will still be licking their wounds from the 3-0 home humbling at the hands of FC Seoul on Thursday’s rearranged match. They never really got out of first gear in that match and their second half performance should be a concern for their fans. A must-win match for them if they want to play top-half football after Halloween.
The final match of the weekend sees…
Sangju v Seoul
Sangju’s first season in the K-League Classic hasn’t exactly been plain sailing. They still don’t seem able to stem the flow of goals they concede and have lost 48 goals in 30 games. With Lee Keun Ho sunning himself somewhere in Qatar they no longer have the spark upfront to compensate for those losses. Only one win in six is a damning statistic and has probably helped teams such as Gyeongnam, Seongnam and Busan. FC Seoul are sitting in fifth after their midweek rout of Ulsan and they seem to have quickly bounced back from their ‘Supermatch’ defeat in which they were as are inept as Suwon were good. Only one point behind Jeju with a vastly superior goal difference they will be looking to cement fourth spot over the remainder of the season. This match is also a dress rehearsal for the upcoming FA Cup semi-final. So as well as points there is a mental victory up for grabs too.