There are only five rounds remaining of the regular 2020 Hana 1Q K League 1 season; the title race is as close as ever and the battle to avoid the drop is as tight as it has been all year. On Sunday, Ulsan Hyundai welcome FC Seoul to the Munsu Stadium on Sunday looking to preserve their place at the K League 1 summit, whilst reigning champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors take on Gangwon FC looking for a sixth win on the spin. On Saturday, Incheon United , with Stefan Mugoša spear-heading the attack, face a tricky trip to North Gyeongsang Province to take on Sangju Sangmu as the 'Blue Black' looks to pull of the great escape. A guide to K League 1 Round 18.

Match of the Round

Ulsan Hyundai vs FC Seoul




The potential return of Ki Sung-yueng is one reason why this is a fixture to keep an eye on, but it is also a match of huge importance for both Ulsan Hyundai and FC Seoul. Ulsan top the table but only just; a mere point separates the Horangi with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors meaning that there is almost no room for error for Kim Do-hoon's men.


FC Seoul, meanwhile, are on a run of four matches unbeaten with three wins and a draw and are starting to mount a serious push for the top six. With three teams in the top five involved in the FA Cup semi-finals, it means that fifth place could become an AFC Champions League spot. Heading into this Sunday's match, Seoul are five points behind Pohang in fifth and six behind Daegu in fourth - a stark contrast from just a few weeks ago when the capital club sat second bottom. Since Seoul's victory over Seongnam in Round 14, Kim Ho-young and his men have conceded just two goals, the same amount as Ulsan and, also like the Horangi, have kept two cleansheets. 


However, Seoul haven't been able to beat Ulsan in each of their last seven meetings, a run which dates back to October 2017. FC Seoul's last win at the Munsu dates back to 2016 and is their only win in their last 10 meetings with the Horangi. Sitting on 20 goals, Júnior Negrão will be looking to add to his already impressive tally. The Brazilian ace has already scored against Seoul once this season and also has goals against the capital club in 2019, and 2018. 




Team of the Round

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors




Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors are the form team heading into the weekend's action with five wins on the spin, six in all competitions. Over the last five rounds, since the 3-0 win over FC Seoul, Jeonbuk rank first for goals scored with 12, first for shots with 75, second for shots on target with 34, and first for shots in the box with 47. 


Last year's MVP, Kim Bo-kyung is second for goals with four, just one fewer than Júnior Negrão. Summer transfer window acquisition, Gustavo, has made the most attempts on goal with 19, while fellow new recruit, Modou Barrow, ranks first for dribbles with eight, and Han Kyo-won second with five. Meanwhile, Kim Jin-su is third for key passes, second for crosses with 11, and has two assists - both came in the win over Sangju last weekend. The Green Warriors take on Gangwon FC at home this Sunday, a side sitting in eighth place and on a run of seven matches without victory.


Player of the Round

Stefan Mugoša




Despite Incheon sitting bottom of the table, Mugoša is in the top five for expected goals in K League 1 this season and is in the top 10 for shots made per 90 minutes as well as for shooting accuracy with just over 30% of all attempts on goal finding the target. All four of Mugoša's goals this year have come away from home, which bodes well for the Montenegrin international as the 'Blue Black' head to North Gyeongsang Province to take on third placed Sangju Sangmu. What also bodes well is Mugoša's goal record against the military side having bagged three in 2019, including a brace in a 3-2 win last September. 



K League 1 Table



K League 1 Round 18 Fixtures

Saturday 29th August


#SANvINC: Sangju Sangmu (3rd) vs Incheon United (12th) - 18:00

#SSBvBUS: Suwon Samsung Bluewings (11th) vs Busan IPark (7th) - 20:00


Sunday 30th August


#ULSvSEO: Ulsan Hyundai (1st) vs FC Seoul (6th) - 17:30

#JEOvGAN: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (2nd) vs Gangwon FC (8th) - 19:00

#POHvSFC: Pohang Steelers (5th) vs Seongnam FC (9th) - 19:00

#DAEvGWA: Daegu FC (4th) vs Gwangju FC (10th) - 20:00


Suspensions

Yeo Reum (Gwangju), due back Round 19

Jeong Seung-hyeon (Ulsan), due back Round 19

Kim Sang-won (Pohang ), due back Round 19


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paul@kleagueunited.com