Watching this Weekend/Listings has been taking an extended break due to the end of the European club season and the break that the K League and J1 League have been on. But, last week the K League Classic roared back to life, and this weekend there’s a full weekend of games. So, back to business!
Jae’s Game of the Week: Jeonbuk Motors vs Gyeongnam FC
There are a couple of other games that are probably more important in terms of higher placed table teams and bigger name teams, but this game is interesting to me simply because it will be the Jeonbuk homecoming for former national team boss Choi Kang-Hee. Jeonbuk has been having a rather poor season given their success over the past few seasons. Currently they are lying in 7th place (which is the last of the top half championship spots), but are just a point ahead of FC Seoul and Busan IPark. Jeonbuk’s woes certainly seem to come from their leaky defense which has conceded a massive 24 goals (the only teams which have conceded more are Daegu and Daejeon). Just a few days ago Jeonbuk lost to Suwon by a crazy 5-4 scoreline. Strange as it may seem to national team followers, it will be interesting to see if Choi Kang-Hee’s return boosts Jeonbuk’s performances.
Gyeongnam on the other hand continue to flounder a bit in the bottom half of the table. Gyeongnam has already changed their manager this season (with Choi Jin-Han taking over), but the move had little impact initally. Although it there was a sign of hope in the midweek game when Gyeongnam destroyed Daejeon 6-0. Gyeongnam is unlikely to ever find themselves in real relegation problem, given the problems of the bottom three of Gangwon, Daejeon, and Daegu, but don’t look likely to get out of the bottom half either. That being said, they’re an average team, but one that can cause problems when they get their stuff together. Could be an interesting match.
>> In the US, the game will be broadcast live at 6 am EST on One World Sports on Sunday June 30th (tape repeat at 2:00pm and 9:00pm). One World Sports will be streaming free in the US for a limited time.
Incheon United vs Pohang Steelers: One of the more interesting games in terms of table placement. Pohang remains top of the table and Incheon isn’t far behind. Pohang was one of the few teams who didn’t have a midweek game, so it will be interesting to see how they come into this one given their long layoff. Incheon did play a midweek game, and got hammered 4-1 by Seongnam. Incheon has been a bit up and down since their hot start, and it’s hard to tell which team will show up. Sometimes they’re solid and quality, sometimes their sloppy and poor.
Busan IPark vs Daegu FC: Two big cities with unloved football teams. Busan is Korea’s second largest city, Daegu is the third. Yet both are fairly unpopular and fall far short of the popularity enjoyed by their baseball counterparts. So, don’t expect a big turnout at the Asiad. Nonetheless, Daegu earned it’s first win of the season midweek, a surprise 5-3 win over Ulsan, while Busan lost against Seoul 1-0. I’d be surprised to see Daegu record a second straight performance like that, but it’s possible. Busan has been a stronger team at home and should be able to collect all three points.
Seongnam Ilhwa vs Jeju United: Another intriguing matchup. Jeju continues to chug along, slow and steady to keep their place high up the table. Seongnam has been a bit Jekyll and Hyde team, usually performing well and beating the top teams, but struggling against the lower teams. Jeju didn’t have a midweek match, Seongnam won 4-1 in the aforementioned match against Incheon.
Ulsan Hyundai vs FC Seoul: Ulsan quietly remains the second-place team in the league, yet I had to double-check myself on that fact. Ulsan lost to of their key players in the offseason in Lee Keun-Ho and Kwak Tae-Hwi, but have continued to perform well. FC Seoul continues their slow and steady climb out of the bottom half of the table after their poor start. A win in Ulsan could see them back in the top half if results go their way.
Gangwon FC vs Suwon Samsung: Suwon’s win over Jeonbuk probably gave boss Seo Jung-Won a little bit of breathing space after a string of poor performances that saw the Bluewings drop down the table. Suwon has had problems getting the same XI on the field with few players starting more than 10 of Suwon’s 14 games so far. Gangwon remains rooted to the bottom of the table largely due to their anemic attack which has mustered just 10 goals.
Daejeon Citizens vs Chunnam Dragons: Probably the forgotten game this weekend with nothing really surrounding this one. Daejeon is bottom, Chunnam just above (although with literally double the points 16 vs 8). Can Daejeon pull it off? Probably not.