This weekend sees the completion of the first round of matches between each team, well at least it would if Jeonbuk and Seoul hadn’t postponed their matches in Round 10 and 11 respectively to allow them to concentrate on the ACL. So for the second week in a row we have only five matches in the top flight instead of six. It does mean that with table-toppers Seoul taking a break that the chasing pack have the chance to steal some ground back.
Round 11 has a lot to live up as last weekend provided us with a heady seventeen goals including two comebacks in what was a pretty entertaining, if somewhat depressing weekend for some. Seoul extended their lead while Incheon delved even further into the confines of relegation. So what will this weekend give us?
Saturday May 21st
Sangju Sangmu vs. Seongnam FC (2pm)
The morale of both these teams coming into the match couldn’t be more different, Sangju came back from two goals down to beat Incheon 4-2 last weekend while Seongnam FC blew a 2-1 lead at home to FC Seoul as they fell 3-2 in a match not for the faint-hearted. The man of the match for Sangju was undoubtedly Park Ki Dong who was in quite simply devastating form, scoring two and setting up another. Sangju have looked a lot more suited to the Classic this time round than last and have definitely raised a few eyebrows. Seongnam ,although losing, were unlucky against league Seoul, they fought back an early goal to lead at HT and were on top as the whistle sounded. As is all too often the case against Seoul they came out the second half and tried to defend their lead only to see it disappear quicker than my paycheck when the Soju tents open. They are still doing well this season but will need to put last weekend behind them quickly if they are to keep title hopes alive. This will be close and there should be goals.
Prediction: Away Win : Sangju 1 – Seongnam 2
Suwon Bluewings vs. Ulsan Hyundai (2pm)
The Bluewings emerged victorious from the inaugural Suwon derby last weekend which not only allows them to claim bragging rights over their city neighbors but also stops the poor run of results they’ve been on. The fact that it was just their second win of the season shows just how much they’ve under performed so far this year. It was a close encounter but goals from Santos and Yeom sealed the win and it looks as if the diminutive Brazilian is beginning to see a return to the form that saw him claim the Golden Boot in 2014 . Ulsan followed up on their 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Seongnam by playing out a relatively dull goalless draw with Pohang and they’ve now gone almost 270 minutes of K-League football without finding the net. The Bluewings haven’t lost in this clash since Nov 2013 which is a pretty incredible record, you would have to imagine they will continue that run for another match at least.
Prediction: Home Win : Bluewings 2 – Ulsan 0
Jeonnam Dragons vs. Jeonbuk Hyundai (3pm)
The final match on Saturday sees the first Jeolla Derby of the year with the match taking place in Suncheon. Jeonnam have been uncharacteristically slow starters this year and must be thanking their lucky stars that Incheon are even further down on their luck. They were comprehensively beaten 3-0 last weekend by Jeju and will probably have been glad that nobody could really see the game for the fog. That defeat on the island was their third defeat in five games and they already look like the plain girl in the nightclub who just wants to get her jacket and go home. Although not exactly oozing class and or confidence their local rivals Jeonbuk occupy 2nd place just 3 points adrift of Seoul but having played one game less. They still remain the only unbeaten side in the Classic but have a lower goal difference than those teams closest to them in the table. They have been grinding out results more than overpowering teams but then that is often the way of Champions. They played in Melboune midweek in ACL action and although they are returning with a 1-1 draw they might be a little less ‘fresh’ than they would normally be going into the match. Can Jeonanm exploit the ‘continental hangover’ though?
Prediction: Away win : Jeonnam 1 – 2
Sunday May 22nd 2016:
Pohang Steelers vs. Suwon FC (2pm)
Sixth placed Pohang host tenth placed Suwon in the early kick-off on Sunday with the hosts undefeated in their last three matches having drawn last weekend away to Ulsan. That recent upturn in form has seen them enter the top half and as they seem to be strengthening their team early ahead of the summer window they could yet have a say in the title race. They are a strange one this season lurching from the sublime to the inane within minutes of each other. They have some class players in their team and are should be much higher up the table, if they have plugged the holes at the back then they might just salvage the disaster yet. Suwon on the other hand look like a team on the slide, they have now lost four of their last five league games and are beginning to look like the team so many in pre-season predicted they would be. That cocky swagger and pressing style seems to have been replaced by a more subdued stroll and they really need to find a way of getting out their slump as both Jeonnam and Incheon won’t play like seaside donkeys all season… okay Jeonnam won’t.
Prediction: Home Win : Pohang 2 – Suwon 0
Incheon United vs. Gwangju (4pm)
The final match of the round sees bottom side Incheon United, who still haven’t won in the league all season, take on Jung Jo Gook’s ninth placed Gwangju. The hosts looked to have finally won a battle when they raced into a 2-0 lead against the Army last weekend only to completely capitulate and lose 4-2. They didn’t so much raise the white flag as stick their underpants on their head, put a pencil up each nose and pretend they were crazy. They have been unable to avoid criticism this week and fully deserve all the flak they’ve been getting. Gwangju didn’t play last weekend as Jeonbuk were sunning it up down under in preparation for their tie with Melbourne. They have improved slightly recently and although they sit in ninth place only 3 points separate them and Jeju in fifth. They are a tough team to beat at times and this is a much down to a ragged stubbornness as it is to tactical prowess. Last year there wasn’t much between the teams, this year should probably follow a similar pattern.
Prediction: Draw: Incheon 1 – Gwangju 1