K-League Classic Round 37 Previews & Predictions
The end of the 2016 K-League Classic is almost upon us as Wednesday sees the penultimate round of matches in what has been one of the tightest leagues of the last few years . Most eyes will be on the key games in the Championship Group featuring the top two of Jeonbuk and Seoul to see if anything will give before they meet in the final game at the weekend. It’s only goals scored that separates them after some big wins last weekend.
In the Relegation Group the big one is probably the battle between Suwon Bluewings and Incheon United as the two in-form teams of the bottom six go head to head in a game that will have ramifications for the other four teams. Suwon FC will be relegated if they lose to Seongnam and Incheon fail to see off the Bluewings.
This round of games take place with matches kicking off in the evening at either 7 or 7.30pm, with temperatures plummeting in Korea it’s going to make it especially frosty for those fans who find themselves on the losing side.
Wednesday November 2nd 2016:
Jeonbuk Hyundai vs. Sangju Sangmu (7pm) – Championship Round
First up we have the match involving league leaders and defending champions Jeonbuk against the surpside package of 2016 Sangju, the hosts will come into this game knowing that if they match FC Seoul’s result on the night then they will be in complete control of their own destiny come the final game on Sunday. They’ve only lost once all season which was to Jeju but they have come close on several occasions and have definitely looked shaky in recent weeks, although they did look every bit champion material last weekend as they routed local rivals Jeonnam. Sangju, although impressive in the early stages have been pretty rank rotten of late and haven’t won since mid August although they did put in a battling performance recently against FC Seoul with a 2-2 draw. They’ve ran Jeonbuk close in their meetings all season and have drawn twice with the leaders so this is anything but the easy home win it might look on paper.
Prediction: A hard fought home win : Jeonbuk 2 – Sangju 1
FC Seoul vs. Jeonnam Dragons (7.30pm) – Championship Round
FC Seoul will host their final league match of the season perhaps wondering if they should be sitting atop the table after surprisingly dropping two points in their last home game against Sangju a couple of weeks ago. Since then though they have made it to the FA Cup final where they have a two-leg ‘Supermatch’ final to look forward to and stopped their poor run of form against Jeju by flying back from the island paradise with all 3pts in the bag. Jeonnam’s fortunes have not been quite so lofty and they will still be licking their wounds after that humping at the hands of their Jeolla neighbors. They lost in the FA Cup to Seoul on a penalty shootout and that might make them want revenge in the league but they’ll need to up their performances of late if they wish to get anything from a tough match. With Jeonbuk having put five past Jeonnam last weekend Seoul will need to rack up the goals in this one too.
Prediction: Home Win : Seoul 2 – Jeonnam 0
Ulsan Hyundai vs. Jeju United (7.30pm) – Championship Round
The final game in the Championship Round is a battle for third and that all important final ACL place for 2017 (although recent rumors regarding Jeonbuk’s 2017 place being in jeopardy could change things). Jeju had looked in pole position to claim third going into last weekend but a defeat at home to Seoul coupled with an Ulsan victory has thrown the cat among the pigeons slightly. Jeju had been on a pretty good run of late, notching up four wins in a row and it was a little surprising to see them halted by Seoul and especially without finding the back of the net. Ulsan on the other hand, managed their first win in five as they defeated Sangju away. There is not a whole lot between the two teams and with so much at stake it could come down to who handles the occasion best. They have one win apiece so far this season but they’ve all been close affairs.
Prediction: Score Draw : Ulsan 1 –Jeju 1
Gwangju vs. Pohang Steelers (7pm) – Relegation Round
The first match to preview in the Relegation Group should really be a ‘dead rubber’ as only a few weeks ago these sides looked in zero danger of losing their place at the top table. Now with 2 games to go they, like the whole bottom six, are firmly in the battle to avoid the dreaded relegation playoffs. Both teams have been hugely inconsistent this year and they have both only managed to record two victories in their last ten matches. Gwangju come into the match after holding Seongnam to a goalless draw, their second match in a row where they have failed to score as top scorer and MVP nominee Jung Jo Gook has struggled to maintain his fine early season form. Pohang were surprising losers in the last round as they fell 3-2 away to Incheon as the hosts snatched all 3 pts with a 95th minute goal. That made it two defeats in a row for The Steelers, and they look like a team really struggling with the situation they find themselves in. A win for Gwangju would guarantee their safety, a defeat for Pohang could see them having to win at The Steelyard on the final day to avoid having to battle it out in the playoffs.
Prediction: Score Draw : Gwangju 1 – Pohang 1
Suwon Bluewings vs. Incheon United (7.30pm) – Relegation Round
This one is probably the biggest game of the round and arguably the biggest game of the season for both teams as they’ll know that a win for either would really impact on the relegation battle but a defeat could be disastrous. Bluewings have found some end of season form and won three games straight to give themselves a little breathing space as they move up to 8th place. Pretty much of all their positives have come from Jonathon, who after arriving in the summer transfer window has completely transformed their fortunes. He may have taken a few games to get used to his team mates but there is no denying the impact that he has had. Much like Adriano at Seoul last year he has become an integral part of their team and could just be the man who delivers them the FA Cup when the final comes around. As impressive as Bluewing’s form has been recently it does pale when compared to Incheon who are having their own purple patch having won five and drawn three of their last eight matches. They have been pulling results out of nowhere at times and have shown incredible fight and resilience as last weekend’s victory showed. This is a team who is not going to go without a fight and are more than capable of putting in a performance in the big matches. All three matches between them this year have ended with a share of the points, this looks like it will go the same way.
Prediction: Score Draw : Bluewings 1 – Incheon 1
Seongnam FC vs. Suwon FC (7.30pm) – Relegation Round
The final game of this week’s previews sees Seongnam host Suwon FC in the final installment of the ‘flag wars’ saga and if that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite it could potentially see Suwon relegated or Seongnam with the proverbial mountain to climb come next weekend. It is quite difficult to fathom quite how Seongnam have got themselves into their current fix, after all this was a team that was flirting with the table leaders as the trees were beginning to bloom. They have had a dismal run and have only one win in eleven games and to make matters worse for them their goals look to have completely dried up. In form players such as Pitu have looked exhausted of late and the pressure of the ‘lone goal scorer’ has taken its toll on Hwang Uijo. They look like a team just begging for the season to end to regroup. Suwon FC have been a joy to have in the Classic at times this year with their battling spirit and never say die approach. They lost the Suwon Derby at the weekend but again should that same fight and passion throughout. They have players who are too good to be plying their trade in the Challenge and you get the feeling they would bid farewell to one or two of them if and when they drop back down. This is an almost impossible game to call, Suwon need something to keep their dreams alive and Seongnam will not want to have to travel to Pohang needing a win.
Prediction: Score Draw : Seongnam 1 – Suwon 1