This weekend sees the return of the K-League Classic after a week-long break for ‘International Week’. A week that saw Korea unbeaten and legend Cha Du Ri honored in his farewell match against New Zealand, albeit with a pretty brief appearance by the man himself. It’s time to turn our attention once again to the bread and butter of the K-League and this Saturday we have four matches to preview.
FC Seoul v Jeju (2pm)
According to the K-League rumour mill this match should see the debut of Park Chu Young back in a Seoul shirt. His inclusion in tomorrow’s match day squad has been getting advertised since the ACL match against Western Sydney Wanderers a few weeks back. Seoul desperately need him to hit the ground running, they sit second bottom without a single point from their 1st three matches. It’s still too early to call “crisis” but failure to turn things around soon could see Choi getting the dreaded support statement from upper management. Jeju on the other hand are unbeaten after 3, one victory and two draws see them sitting sixth on 5pts. They ran out 5-0 winners over Daejeon last weekend and are on something of a high, they have a pretty poor record against FC Seoul at Sangam but if there is any time to play Seoul it has to be now.
Prediction : Seoul 1 Jeju 1 (Park not to score)
Suwon v Busan (2pm)
Suwon find themselves at home for the third match out of four and as expected are sitting in the top half of the table. An unexpected defeat at the hands of Pohang aside they seem to have picked up where they left off last season. Yeom Ki Hun in particular looks up for it this season with three goals from three matches already including two against Seongnam in their last outing. Busan have been a bit of a mix bag so far this year, victory in their opening day was followed by a draw away to Jeju and then a home defeat at the hands of Gwangju. They are expected to be in amongst the relegation battle again this year and erratic form like this is mainly why. Suwon should have enough to see off the threat from the South and maintain their position near the top of the table.
Prediction : Suwon 2 Busan 0
Jeonbuk v Pohang (2pm)
Undoubtedly the match of the weekend takes place at Jeonju World Cup Stadium as Jeonbuk take on Pohang. Jeonbuk have been effective without being particularly impressive in their matches so far. They won 2-1 away at Seoul but were not their normal cohesive selves. This was followed by a surprise goalless draw at Incheon in a match which would have seen them claim top spot for their own. That being said when they click they are pretty amazing to watch and even though they haven’t hit top form they still have enough to dispatch most teams in the league. Pohang come into this one having had a particularly difficult first few games. They defeated both Suwon and Seoul in the early rounds but lost at home to Ulsan in a 4-2 cracker, Jeonbuk should pose them a similar challenge as Ulsan did and they will need to show they have the bottle for the big games after the way last season ended.
Prediction : Jeonbuk 1 Pohang 1
Daejeon v Seongnam (4pm)
The late afternoon kick-off on Saturday sees newly promoted Daejeon take on Seongnam. Only 1 point separates the teams at the bottom of the table which adds a little more importance to an otherwise uninspiring match. To say Daejeon’s return to the K-League Classic has been torrid would be an understatement, 3 matches played with 8 goals conceded without a single in return is a record that would make most teams shudder. The fact that they haven’t really squared up against any of the ‘big boys’ in the league yet makes it a more than worrying statistic. They need to stop the rot and they need to stop it quick. Seongnam’s league form has been… well Seongnam-esque. Defeat on the opening day to Jeonbuk was expected but the last match against Suwon would have hit them hard. It had been a while since Suwon had taken a scalp at Tancheon. Their ACL form however has been impressive and if they can carry that into the league they might just see themselves climbing the table.
Prediction : Daejeon 0 Seongnam 1