Granted things could still fall apart, but as of now we have a race in both the Classic and Challenge following the weekend’s action. Check the results and see the table!
K League Classic
The big result of the weekend was Jeju ending Jeonbuk’s unbeaten record this season as they beat the leaders 3-2 at Jeonju World Cup Stadium. Jeju’s Kim Ho-nam scored the winner just minutes after Jeonbuk had equalized things at 2-2 via Lee Dong-gook. At the same time Seoul strolled to a comfortable 2-0 win over Ulsan. Joo Se-jong and Adriano the scorers there. In the final top-half match, Jeonnam edged Sangju 1-0 with Jugovic scoring the only goal.
Down in the bottom-half group, fallen giants Pohang and Suwon Samsung played out a 2-2 draw thanks to some sloppy defending. Incheon held Seongnam to a 0-0 draw at Tancheon, while Gwangju saw off Suwon FC 2-1.
The results see Jeonbuk narrowly maintain their lead at the top of the table. Both they and Seoul are level on 60 points, but Jeonbuk holds their position thanks to their narrow advantage in goals scored (62 vs 60). Jeju’s win sees them stretch their lead over Ulsan for the 3rd ACL spot over Ulsan, while Jeonnam close the gap on the southeast side to two points.
Suwon FC remain rooted to the bottom as they were the only bottom-half side not to pick up any points, while their cousins remain close to the relegation playoff spot. With four games to play Gwangju have virtually guaranteed they will not face the auto drop. Seongnam and Pohang will not be worrying too much, but with six points separating them and Incheon, one bad weekend could see them get pulled into playoff worry.
Championship Race – Remaining Fixtures
Jeonbuk: At Ulsan, At Jeonnam, Vs Sangju, Vs Seoul
Seoul: Vs Sangju, At Jeju, Vs Jeonnam, At Jeonbuk
IF we’re lucky, the title race will come down to the last day when Seoul travel to Jeonju to take on Jeonbuk. Here’s to a repeat of the dramatic Ulsan-Pohang last day title drama we had a few years back!
ACL Race – Remaining Fixtures
Jeju: Vs Jeonnam, Vs Seoul, At Ulsan, Vs Sangju
Ulsan: Vs Jeonbuk, At Sangju, Vs Jeju, At Jeonnam
Jeonnam: At Jeju, Vs Jeonbuk, At Seoul, Vs Ulsan
The ACL race will likely come down to Jeju and Ulsan, but we’ll see how the KFA Cup shakes out with both Seoul and Ulsan in the semifinals (and not facing each other). Jeju seems to have the slightly favorable schedule as they get their toughest opponent (Seoul) at home, but they will travel to Ulsan. Ulsan will get both Jeonbuk and Jeju at home. Jeonnam has to face the four sides above them, so it’s tricky to see them get through that.
Relegation Race – Remaining Fixtures
Suwon Samsung: Vs Seongnam, At Suwon FC, Vs Incheon, Vs Gwangju
Incheon: Vs Gwangju, Vs Pohang, At Suwon Samsung, Vs Suwon FC
Suwon FC: At Pohang, Vs Suwon Samsung, At Seongnam, At Incheon
Suwon Samsung, despite a woeful season by their standards, seem to have a slight edge in that they will never have to leave the city of Suwon for their final matches – three official home matches and one “away” trip to cross-town rivals Suwon FC. All three sides still have to face each other, so how those play out could see the relegation race swing wildly in any direction. Suwon Samsung just two clear of Incheon and five of Suwon FC.
K League Challenge
Things remain just as exciting down in the Challenge. The weekend’s notable match being 10th placed Chungju absolutely throttling leaders Ansan 8-1. One could understand the police team kind of packing it in at this point given they cannot be promoted and recently saw some roster change as players completed their service, but a scoreline like that and the team’s where they are in the table probably deserves some examination. An unfortunate side effect of the league’s rather lax effort on taking care of match fixing is that suspicion remains that it could happen again. Hopefully there is nothing to find in this case, but I think the league would do well to show they are being serious about match and spot-fixing by at least looking at matches that could be considered suspicious.
Onto other results. Daejeon scored twice in added time to defeat Gangwon 2-1 to keep their playoff hopes alive (just). Seoul E-Land did likewise as Joo Min-kyu scored the only goal in their 1-0 win over Daegu. Bucheon took care of their business by defeating Anyang 1-0. Gyeongnam kept their playoff hopes alive – mathematically speaking – by defeating cellar dwellers Goyang 3-2. Busan was off this weekend.
Despite getting hammered on the weekend, Ansan remain top with 64 points. Daegu and Bucheon are right behind on 63 points (Daegu leads the goals scored 50-44). Right on their heels is Gangwon with 62 points. Busan remain in the final playoff spot with 58 points. Seoul E-Land is the only likely challenger to those four sides for the playoffs as they sit 6th with 55 points. Daejeon has 54 points, but they have played a game more than the other six sides. Gyeongnam still in it mathematically on 49 points, but they would need Busan to lose all three remaining matches to have a shot.
Ansan: At Gyeongnam, Vs Gangwon, At Anyang
Daegu: Vs Bucheon, At Gyeongnam, Vs Daejeon
Bucheon: At Daegu, At Busan, Vs Goyang
Gangwon: At Busan, At Ansan, Vs Gyeongnam
Busan: vs Gangwon, vs Bucheon, At Seoul E-Land
Seoul E-Land: At Chungju, At Goyang, vs Busan
Daejeon: Bye, vs Chungju, At Daegu
Things should remain interesting as the top sides all will play another top side at some point in the remaining fixtures. Daegu and Bucheon will face off midweek to see who will likely get the automatic promotion spot. Things seem slightly favorable for Daegu as they play twice at home (vs Bucheon and Daejeon) while only travelling to Gyeongnam next weekend. Bucheon will need to face both Daegu and Busan on the road before what should be a give-me game against Goyang on the final day. Gangwon will travel to Busan this Wednesday before taking on Ansan next weekend. For Busan and Seoul E-Land they will face each other on the final day in Seoul in what could be a decisive match for the final playoff spot. E-Land has two winnable away games against Chungju and Goyang, while Busan has trickier matches against Gangwon and Bucheon. A win against Chungju and draw with Daegu would be enough (assuming Busan loses all three of their matches, and E-Land drop significant points) for Daejeon to get through, but a Busan win in any of their three matches would end Daejeon’s hopes.
Oh yeah, there is ACL midweek as Seoul looks to overturn their 1-4 deficit against Jeonbuk. K League Challenge is also in full swing midweek (why?). The U-19 AFC Championship is going on as well.