Round 23 of the 2019 K League 1 season throws up some interesting match-ups as the summer heat begins to grip the country. FC Seoul will travel to face Ulsan Hyundai in a game that could have significant implications on the title race. Meanwhile, Incheon United will host Gyeongnam FC in a relegation six-pointer. The K League United Editors preview the midweek action.
Tuesday, July 30th
#ULSvSEO: Ulsan Hyundai (2nd) vs FC Seoul (3rd) 19:30
After conceding a late penalty at home to Sangju Sangmu, Ulsan Hyundai spurned a glorious opportunity to give themselves a two points lead at the top of the K League 1 table. Yoon Bitgaram's 90th minute spotkick cancelled out Mix Diskerud's close-range strike to ensure that the spoils were shared. Up next for Kim Dohoon's side is the visit of an FC Seoul side looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors last time out.
FC Seoul's stellar run of form had put Choi Yongsoo's men in the thick of a three-horse title race but defeats to Jeju United and Jeonbuk have widened the gap between Seoul and the two Hyundai clubs to six points. Tuesday's meeting will be the third this season with Ulsan winning by two goals to one early in the season which preceded a 2-2 draw at Sangam just a few weeks ago. Seoul will be without Aleksandar Pešić with the striker in his native Serbia recovering from a fractured toe. Ulsan, meanwhile, are expected to hand a second debut to returning goalkeeper Kim Seunggyu.
#INCvGYE: Incheon United (12th) vs Gyeongnam FC (11th) 19:30
Incheon picked up their first win in eight attempts last time out and in the process halted a run of four consecutive losses. That victory leaves them just just one win away from the safety of 10th place in the table and the league's lowest scorers could see themselves jump two places in the table if results go their way on Tuesday night.
They welcome a Gyeongnam team who haven't secured a league victory in 121 days, a total of 18 games without a win. With the league's worst defence, Gyeongnam have conceded an incredible 42 goals in 22 games and that defence showed no signs of improvement in their last game, conceding twice to lowly Jeju United. They will hope that the recent signing of Uroš Đerić will be the springboard to propel them up the table and the towering striker got off to the perfect start for the club scoring after just two minutes on his debut. However, they will be without the services of Kim Jongpil for this game after the midfielder was show a red card in that match against Jeju United.
#DAEvSSB: Daegu FC (5th) vs Suwon Bluewings (6th) 19:30
Daegu will be keen to arrest a slide that has seen them pick up only two wins in their last 11 matches. The Sky Blues have only scored nine goals in that period and remain the lowest scoring team in the top six. They are yet to register a goal against Suwon this season and could well struggle against a Suwon defence that has gradually improved throughout the season. Edgar, the focal point of their attack, is likely to remain on the sidelines due to a prolonged injury which could mean a debut for former Suwon Bluewings striker Park Kidong.
The Bluewings will hope to bounce back after their first defeat in seven games and will head south with confidence having traveled fairly well this season. They come boasting the current leader in the race for the Golden Boot in Adam Taggart, and the Australian has now bagged 12 goals and one assist from his 19 appearances. He was joined by his fellow Aussie Terry Antonis last week and the midfielder is in line to start this game on the bench. However, defender, Min Sanggi, will sit this one out following the straight red card that he received against Seongnam.
#SFCvSAN: Seongnam FC (9th) vs Sangju Sangmu (7th) 19:30
Seongnam arrested a run of three defeats with a late win over local rivals Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the previous round, keeping them a safe distance from the relegation places for the meantime. The home side will be hoping their winger Eder will not be too exhausted after his stint with Team K League this week. The Brazilian looked in good form against Juventus and has been pivotal to Seongnam's attacking threat with his five goals this campaign. Since their last outing, Seongnam have brought in young Jeju United midfielder Lee Eunbeom and may opt to provide him a debut in this match.
Sangju Sangmu were in action last Wednesday as they faced Ulsan Hyundai in their game in hand, running out with a point after a late penalty from Yoon Bitgaram. The military side's form has been somewhat unpredictable this season, but four points from their last two matches against Daegu and the aforementioned Ulsan is certainly positive , especially with many of their key players set to return to their parent clubs at the end of the summer. One player who won't be leaving however is top scorer Park Yongji. Park has eight goals for the campaign so far, making him the joint top Korean scorer this season (that is still playing in the league) and a threat for Seongnam on Tuesday evening.
Wednesday, July 31st
#JHMvJEJ: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (1st) vs Jeju United (10th) 19:00
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors head coach Jose Morais returns to club duties after managing Team K League to a 3-3 draw against Juventus last Friday and will have his side fully focused on claiming three points against Jeju United to stay in control of the title race. Last time out, the team fared well against fellow title contenders FC Seoul, with recently signed Kim Seungdae coming off the bench to score on his debut and assist his new side to a 4-2 victory. Kim may not be the only one making a home debut on Wednesday, with recently signed Brazilian striker Samuel Rosa available for selection. Jeonbuk have no suspensions for this fixture but will continue to be without Choi Bokyung, Lee Seunggi and Han Kyowon through injury. These losses should not affect the side's performance, however.
Jeju United have also been on somewhat of a spending spree in the recently closed transfer window as they look to pull themselves away from the drop zone. They have signed Ulsan goalkeeper Oh Seunghoon in addition to Choi Kyubaek and Lim Sanghyeop from V-Varen Nagasaki and Suwon Bluewings respectively. They have also brought in a new striker in the shape of Christian Osaguona for Persian Gulf Pro League side Zoh Ahan in a hope that he can help with the side's inability to convert. There are no suspensions to speak of and a close to full strength squad should be available for manager Choi Yun-kyum to select from.
#GANvPOH: Gangwon FC (4th) vs Pohang Steelers (8th) 20:00
A resurgent Gangwon FC head into Wednesday's clash with Pohang Steelers on the back of a defeat to Ulsan, leaving them just a point above Daegu in fifth. The loss brought an end to a run of three games unbeaten with two wins and a draw including an emphatic 4-0 triumph over Sangju. With top four rivals Daegu facing a tricky home fixture with Suwon Bluewings, the visit of the Steelers will be seen as an ideal opportunity for Kim Byungsoo's side to strengthen their grip over fourth place.
The Steelers are enduring an indifferent 2019 season having been on the cusp of AFC Champions League qualification just last year. Sitting in eighth place and eight points off the top four, 16 points behind a guaranteed place in next year's ACL, it would take a monumental turnaround for Kim Kidong's men to be playing continental football next term. The Steelers have strengthened during the window, including the loan signing of Choi Youngjun on loan from Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. A first win in three, and second in 10, could take Pohang within touching distance of the top half should Sangju and Suwon fail to win their games at Seongnam and Daegu respectively.