A quick and dirty preview of Round 28 of the 2016 K League Classic. Before we move on to the games, a brief reminder of the table:
Tim’s One to Watch – Jeonbuk-Seoul
Both teams are reeling off of satisfactory performances in the AFC Champions League and in good form. FC Seoul have hit their stride under Hwang Sunhong and look nearly impossible – Jeonbuk still haven’t lost a league game all season. Despite this being their third encounter of the season, the tactics are likely to be very different, as Jeonbuk’s blueprint on how to beat Choi Yongsoo’s 5-3-2 is out of the window with “Steel-taka” the new Sangam style of play. With 10-point gaps between Jeonbuk and Seoul, and another 10-point gap between Seoul and the rest of the league, if Choi Kanghee’s men are ever going to be caught, there’s no better time to start than now.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw // It’s hard to predict Jeonbuk losing, especially having beaten Seoul twice this season. They just have this unconquerable winning mentality, though on the road, against most opposition, a draw is to be expected.
Jeju has the worst defense in the entire K League, yet they somehow find ways to score. The addition of former Daejeon winger/fullback Wanderson, who got his debut goal in orange last weekend, should even improve Jeju’s goal-scoring reputation. In 27 games, they’ve only been shut out 6 times this season, although most recently it was by the Magpies. Seongnam are leaning on Silvinho, a summer addition, to compensate for Tiago’s absence. It’s come with mixed results, and both teams have been wildly inconsistent of late in terms of results. Nonetheless, the winner could move as high as third in the table.
Prediction: Jeju 3-2 Seongnam // Jeju home games can be a lot of fun. Buckets of goals, buckets of rain. We could be in for another slip and slide encounter in Seogwipo.
Relegation battle extraordinaire, Suwon City welcomes Incheon to the Civic Stadium. Neither side has won a game this month, and both are having goalscoring woes. Despite this, both relegation teams are a real contrast of styles: Incheon’s route one style against Suwon’s wild and structure-less attack. If either side can scrape a victory, they will move into the relegation playoff zone, instead of the automatic relegation penalty handed to the league’s last-placed team.
Prediction: Suwon City 1-1 Incheon // Gut feeling. Don’t think there’s much between these two sides.
Ulsan Hyundai-Gwangju FC
Another mid-table scrap. Honestly, Ulsan’s biggest strength is their defense, and with Jung Seunghyeon returning to the side after an impressive Olympics, and Gwangju’s main offensive threat, league goalscoring leader Jung Jogook (with 16 goals) drying up his supply of late, I think advantage Ulsan. After all, their last home win came against the Honam side.
Prediction: Ulsan 1-0 Gwangju // If you’re a youth fan, you should tune in to see if Kim Gunwoong is starting. The 19-year old has been very legit of late as a central midfielder and could be future KNT calibre.
Jeonnam Dragons-Pohang Steelers
It’s the POSCO derby! Both of the POSCO-owned teams sit in the bottom half, and with just three games before the split, every point is vital, while a loss would be a major hurdle for moving into the top six, especially so for Jeonnam. Jair has been good of late for Jeonnam, while Pohang have just two goals in their last five games, and just two goals in their last seven away games. That being said, most of those games have been against top teams, so it remains to be seen if Pohang can get something here.
Prediction: Jeonnam 0-0 Pohang // There’s something about these games… there’s only been one goal in the last four encounters between these sides.
Sangju Sangmu-Suwon Bluewings
There are just two games left with this Sangju side, as a very significant core of their players will be discharged from military services in a couple of weeks. This marks their last home game in Sangju and it’s hard to overlook the third-placed military side. Suwon also only have two wins on the road this season – reminder, they sit just 6 points above potential relegation.
Prediction: Sangju 2-1 Bluewings // Even if the Bluewings are 2-0 against Sangju this season, I’m cheering for Sangju to win this one. A top half finish would be an incredible accomplishment for the military side and would stop their nearly inevitable slide down the table after next week’s game in Gwangju. Plus I really want the Bluewings to be relegated. Just to scare the pompous f*ckers.