This weekend marked the halfway point for the K League Classic. After this the league will do their annual top and bottom half split. Who made the top, who got left in the bottom. Read on.
The seven teams advancing to the championship half of the table are: Pohang Steelers, Ulsan Hyundai, Jeonbuk Motors, FC Seoul, Suwon Samsung, Incheon United, and Busan IPark.
The seven teams who will fight it out in the relegation half of the table are: Seongnam Ilhwa, Jeju United, Chunnam Dragons, Gyeongnam FC, Daegu FC, Gangwon FC, and Daejeon United.
It was dramatic stuff on Sunday. Seongnam looked to be going to the championship half with Busan dropping down after Pohang leveled the score in the 85th minute (Seongnam was winning). But a stoppage time winner saw the IPark maintain their 7th place standing. Busan narrowly edged Seongnam out on goal difference +6 to +5.
The top of the table looks to be competitive going into the second half of the season. Pohang has a narrow 1 point advantage over Ulsan and Jeonbuk who are tied for 2nd with 48 points. FC Seoul, after struggling mightily in the early weeks, has charged up the table and are right in the thick of things on 46 points. Suwon and Incheon aren’t out of it at 41 points, but seem unlikely to make a serious run. Busan, as mentioned earlier, are in the last spot with 40 points.
On the other side, Seongnam and Jeju will feel they will stay comfortably out of the relegation places. Seongnam has 40 points, while Jeju has 39. The quality drops quite a bit after that, with Chunnam next on 29 points. After Chunnam comes the real dogfight. Gyeongnam on 22, Daegu on 20, Gangwon on 15, and Daejeon on 14. Who will go down?
The split, if you’re not familiar with it, started last season in response to the massive match fixing scandal that rocked the league in 2011. The idea was to make more games mean something to the clubs (and thus reduce the urge to fix “meaningless” games). With every game against teams that you are competing against for something (title, CL spots, relegation) teams won’t want to allow fixes and loses. The idea works, somewhat. Certainly the teams at the very top and very bottom will be very competitive with each other, but it’s those middle teams that can be concerning still.
Last season for example, Busan narrowly made the upper half (like this season) and then basically shut it down. Content with their upper half finish, they knew they wouldn’t challenge for the title, and so . . . Similarly I suspect that teams like Busan and Incheon (in the upper half) and Seongnam and Jeju in the bottom half will experience similar situations. Busan and Incheon won’t likely make a real competitive run at the title, and Seongnam and Jeju will easily distance themselves from the relegation fight. There will be competitive matches early, but as the packs separate within the splits, the last games will likely be less meaningful.
But, anyway, I suppose that’s a conversation for another day.
The final table
|#||Team||MP||W||D||L||F||A||D||P||Last 5 matches|
|1||Pohang Steelers||26||14||7||5||42||26||+16||49||L L W D W|
|2||Ulsan||26||14||6||6||48||29||+19||48||W W L L D|
|3||Jeonbuk Motors||26||14||6||6||50||33||+17||48||W D W W D|
|4||Seoul||26||13||7||6||44||31||+13||46||W D D W W|
|5||Suwon Bluewings||26||12||5||9||38||29||+9||41||D L W D W|
|6||Incheon United||26||11||8||7||37||30||+7||41||L W L W L|
|7||Busan I’Park||26||11||7||8||33||27||+6||40||W L W W L|
|8||Seongnam||26||11||7||8||36||31||+5||40||W W W D W|
|9||Jeju United||26||10||9||7||40||34||+6||39||W W L D W|
|10||Chunnam Dragons||26||6||11||9||24||29||-5||29||D W L L D|
|11||Gyeongnam||26||4||10||12||26||41||-15||22||L L D D L|
|12||Daegu||26||4||8||14||24||41||-17||20||L W L D D|
|13||Gangwon||26||2||9||15||18||49||-31||15||L L L L L|
|14||Daejeon Citizen||26||2||8||16||22||52||-30||14||L L W L L|