K-League Classic Relegation Group Previews
This weekend sees the final matches in the K-League Classic in what has been one of the most unpredictable seasons I can remember. We’ve had points deducted, ‘giants’ being slain while others implode plus the emergence of a new face at the party. The K-League have split the fixtures over two two days with the Relegation Group being on Saturday and the Championship Group on Sunday.
In the relegation round the biggest match is that between Incheon United and Suwon FC as they battle to see who can avoid automatic relegation. Suwon FC need to defeat Incheon by more than three goals if they are to survive until the playoffs at least. The other important match sees Pohang host Seongnam and both will be hoping Incheon don’t win otherwise one of them would slip into the playoffs.
With more potential twits and turns than an episode of Sherlock it is going to be an exciting 90 mins for sure.
Incheon United vs. Suwon FC
After all the football played over the season the relegation battle will come down to these final 90 mins at Incheon Stadium as the bottom two face off in a winner takes all battle. Incheon had been in outstanding form recently having won five of their last ten or so matches but then they went and lost to Suwon Bluewings midweek. That defeat ensured the Bluewings survival and coupled with a surprise Suwon FC win in Seongnam threw the relegation battle wide open again. Incheon have a fantastic ‘never say die’ attitude and have managed several last minute winners over the year. They also boast match-winners like Kevin in their squad and he will be a key man in this match too. Suwon have also surprised many and although they sit bottom of the table they have been more than competitive. Unfortunately thought their inconsistency goes hand in hand with their passion and desire and that is why they find themselves where they are. They too have key men who they’ll need to be at their best and probably none more so than Australian defender Adrian Leijer who was a rock midweek against Seongnam. It might not be a pretty match but it will be exciting and could just go all the way to the final kick of the ball.
Prediction: Score Draw : Incheon 2 – Suwon 2
Pohang Steelers vs. Seongnam FC
Football has seen many a team fall from grace down the years, Blackburn Rovers, Parma to name but two and the K-League is of course not immune to this but it has to be said nobody could have predicted that these two clubs would be potentially 90 mins from a playoff spot to stay in the Classic. It is quite incredible that they find themselves in this position and no doubt both of these sides will have half an eye on the game over in Incheon where a draw would see them survive to regroup next year. Pohang come into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw with Gwangju in a match that they yet again threw away a lead. They have been incredibly erratic from day one of the season and even after they brought in several new recruits in the summer were still unable to stabilise things. Seongnam’s season has been slightly more dramatic as they have gone from sitting comfortably in the top three to 9th in the table. They had a great opportunity to effectively finish their season midweek when Suwon FC visited town but yet again they fell short. They did however get their first goal since the split and in fairness did pepper the Suwon goal for the majority of the 2nd half . It should be a close match but the last time they met Pohang ran out easy 4-1 winners and that might just be in both team’s heads come kick-off.
Prediction: Home Win : Pohang 2 – Seongnam 1
Suwon Bluewings vs. Gwangju
The final game is a bit of a ‘dead rubber’ as both sides are safe from relegation and therefore have only pride to play for, there is also the added fact that Bluewings have an FA Cup final coming up in a couple of weeks and might just decide to rest key players such as Yeom Ki Hun and Jonathon. Bluewings have had a nightmare season but have managed to get the results when they needed them and have won three matches in a row. Their fans may have been blocking buses and screaming ‘blue murder’ for most of the season but if they bring the elusive FA Cup home to The Big Bird all will be forgiven. Gwangju yet again have secured their place at the top table and surely there come a time soon when we stop referring to them as the “surprise package” of the league. As they showed midweek they do love a comeback and have a habit of finding late goals when they most need them. With nothing to play for this one could go either way.
Prediction: Score Draw : Bluewings 1 – Gwangju 1