There may only be two matches to be played this Saturday but they are two pretty huge ones. All four ACL teams play each other today in crucial matches not only for the league but considering they could very well be paired against each other in the last 16 of the ACL they are huge morale-boosting or confidence-sapping occasions too.
Seoul v Seongnam (2pm)
The 2pm kick-off sees Seoul welcome Seongnam to the World Cup Stadium. Both teams come into the match on the back of FA Cup victories against relative minnows. Seoul seeing off the challenge of the Gyeongju HNP, a real-life version of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant while Seongnam defeated the footballing equivalent of ‘On The Buses’ in Busan Transportation Corporation FC. They both head off to Japan next week for their ACL matches. Seoul needing some kind of result in Tokyo while Seongnam are playing for 1st or 2nd place against Gamba in Osaka. Much has been made of Seoul’s poor form this season and although a lot of the blame must fall at Choi’s door he hasn’t exactly been helped by a string of injuries that see him without Cha Du Ri, Osmar, Kim Jin Kyu and Park Chu Young (ok the last one not exactly a loss). They fought back from 1-0 down against Gwangju last weekend to claim a point and maybe just maybe there is some fighting spirit left in the team yet. Seongnam had a similar result last time out in the league too, coming from a goal down against Jeju. They equalized from the spot again and have now racked up five penalties in all competitions so far. They have never won in 90 minutes at Sangam with even last year’s FA Cup final victory coming after penalties. With both teams having one eye on their midweek matches you would have to imagine that record will remain intact with this one yet again finishing with a share of the spoils.
Prediction: Seoul 1 Seongnam 1
Jeonbuk v Suwon (3pm)
This is the match most K-League neutrals have been waiting for, the first real big test for Jeonbuk at home. Jeonbuk look at times in the league as if they are operating on auto-pilot such is the general gulf in class between themselves and the chasing pack but today they face a team playing with not only confidence but the occasional panache too. Jeonbuk were made to work for their place in the next round of the FA Cup midweek as Goyang took them to extra time and with Suwon’s match being postponed until mid-May they will be the more tired of the two teams. They both have home ACL matches midweek with Beijing coming to Suwon on Children’s Day and Shandong in Jeonbuk on the Wednesday. Home victories in both those matches would almost certainly throw them together again in the next round. In the league Jeonbuk have been impressive, they sit 5 pts clear of Suwon just now and look in danger of having the league wrapped up before the Ginkgo berries start to drop from the trees. With Ulsan looking as stable as a Rocky Horror Picture Show audience member people are looking at Suwon to take up the reins of ‘challenger’, well everyone apart from FC Seoul fans that is. Today’s match should be all about the strikers, Lee Dong Gook and Edu of Jenobuk and Yum Ki Hun and Kaio of Suwon have been finding the net pretty regularly so far this season and the winner could be decided by which of those four has the happiest day in front of goal. A return to Jeonbuk World Cup Stadium for Kaio might add a little extra spice to an already huge match.
Prediciton: Jeonbuk 2 Suwon 1