The club season is nearing it’s end. England is done, as is Germany and Portugal. Spain and Switzerland still have a couple weeks left though, and Korea and Japan are just getting started. Let’s do this!
Game of the Week: Grasshopper vs Basel
Okay, so I don’t know much about the Swiss Super League, but this game could be the decisive title match. Park Joo-Ho and FC Basel, are currently top of the table with 66 points. In second place, on 60 points is Grasshopper. There are just 3 matches left in the season, so a Basel win would seal the title. A Grasshopper win would make the last two weeks a bit more interesting. The two teams met just a week ago in the Schweizer Pokal (Swiss Cup), and Grasshopper came out winners on penalties. Park Joo-Ho played the full 120 minutes for Basel. He did not take a penalty kick. I’m not sure if Park Joo-Ho will play this one, as he may be rested given the extra minutes he played last weekend.
Real Valladolid vs Celta de Vigo
Remember Park Chu-Young? Of course we do. But his Celta team’s troubles have gotten worse. Only two games remaining in La Liga, and Celta is dead last in the Primera. Hopes of survival hang on a thread, as they need Galician rivals Deportivo la Coruna (16th) to lose to Malaga, and hope that fellow relegation-threatened teams Real Zaragoza and Mallorca drop points against Real Betis and Atletico Madrid respectively. Should that happen (Vigo win and the other three lose), Vigo would still be in the drop zone, but only a point behind Deportivo. I believe Spain uses head-to-head results as a tie-breaker, and Deportivo has the edge on Celta (1 win, 1 draw). Celta could get relegated this weekend, or live a bit longer. As for Park, now widely disliked by Celta fans and the local press, I seem to recall reading that he has recovered from his injury, but it seems highly unlikely he’ll appear. If you’re a betting person, current odds are predicting a 1-1 draw.
See above game of the week
The Vancouver Whitecaps don’t have an MLS game this weekend, but will play midweek in the Canadian Championship (which I didn’t know there was one) against fellow Canadian MLS team Montreal Impact.
K League Classic
Ulsan Hyundai vs Gyeongnam FC – Ulsan will look to continue to make their push to the top of the table while Gyeongnam will look to get their season back on track. Can Kim Shin-Wook continue his good run of form for Ulsan, and add to his league leading 7 goals? Possibly. Ulsan should win this one, and keep the pressure on their neighbors in Pohang.
Busan IPark vs Incheon United – Incheon was one of the hottest teams coming out of the gate, but they’ve cooled considerably since then. Nonetheless, they’re still within striking distance of the top. Busan on the other hand have been the slow and steady team (think Stoke). The defense is still solid from Ahn Ik-Soo, and the offense has improved a bit under Yoon Sung-Hyo. A potentially interesting match, if there’s an early goal. Otherwise a draw seems quite possible.
Daejeon Citizens vs Seongnam Ilhwa – Maybe a snoozer, this one. Daejeon is still struggling massively, while Seongnam got back to winning ways last week. Look for a comfortable Seongnam win.
Gangwon FC vs Jeonbuk Motors – Another likely lopsided affair. Jeonbuk will look to put the disappointments of crashing out of the Champions League to rest by beating up on Gangwon. Gangwon has been playing better, but goals are still hard for them to come by.
Pohang Steelers vs Daegu FC – Make it three one-sided matches. This is a top of the table (Pohang) versus bottom of the table (Daegu) match that seems to have only one outcome. A comfy win for the men from the Steelyard.
Chunnam Dragons vs Suwon Samsung – After looking like title contenders early on, Suwon’s season looks in early danger of falling apart. They just can’t seem to beat the top half of the table (2-1-4). Lucky for them, Chunnam sits in the bottom half, but they have been difficult to beat in Gwangyang. A draw seems likely here.
Jeju United vs FC Seoul – The only comfortable win Seoul has had lately is the 4-0 romp over Daegu. This weekend’s match will certainly be tougher, as Seoul will head south to Jeju. Jeju has once again quietly been one of the better teams in the league, thanks in part to a stingy defense that has only allowed 9 goals. Seoul on the other hand has leaked goals like crazy, and that’s a big reason why they’re still in the bottom half. Probably a close one, but Jeju will likely eek it out in the end.
K League Challenge
Anyang vs Chungju
Bucheon 1995 vs Suwon City
Goyang Hi vs Korean Police
*if I have time I’ll list the Korean players again, but for now just a listing of all the J1 League matches
Shonan Bellmare vs Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Ventforet Kofu vs Omiya Ardija
Shimizu S-Pulse vs Vegalta Sendai
Kawasaki Frontale vs Albirex Niigata
Sagan Tosu vs Yokohama F. Marinos
Oita Trinita vs Jubilo Iwata
Kashima Antlers vs FC Tokyo
Cerezo Osaka vs Nagoya Grumpus
Kashiwa Reysol vs Urawa Reds