This weekend brings round 30 of the 2019 K League 1 season. With only four games left before the split, the stakes could not be higher for a certain number of teams. Two months have now passed for Jeju United without a win in their torrid season. They face off against the Magpies, Seongnam. FC Seoul makes the trip down to Pohang Steelers, with the home side only three points adrift from that vital top-six place. There is also the mouth-watering fixture of Suwon Bluewings vs Sangju Sangmu, with both teams level on points in 6th and 7th place respectively.
Sunday will see Ulsan Hyundai, who fell short in the last round, welcome Gangwon FC. Can they close the gap on Jeonbuk, who travel down to Gyeongnam FC on the same day? Incheon United, who fell short in the Gyeongin Derby last week, welcome Daegu to town. Can the men in blue and black finally get some points on the board, and widen the gap between them and Jeju? Another exciting and interesting week in store in the K League, and you can find K League United's full rundown of it here.
Saturday 21st September 2019
#JEJvSFC: Jeju United (12th) Vs Seongnam FC (9th) 17:00
It comes as a surprise that only four positions are separating these two teams. The quality of football is completely different, with a gigantic 24 point gap between the two sides. Saturday will see Seongnam travel to the island in the hope of taking all three points. The Magpies could only manage a stalemate draw in the round before against Suwon Bluewings and will look to further themselves away from the drop. Jeju recorded their second straight loss against Gangwon in the round prior, with goals coming from a Kim Ji-hyun brace.
This will be the second time Seongnam travel to Jeju, after claiming three points back in June. The two sides have no suspensions leading into the game. Jeju played a 3-4-3 in the last round, relying on Yun Il-lok and Magno Cruz to get the goals. With the two being the top scorers for the Islanders, this partnership could be recreated. Seongnam may still be unable to use Eder in the game, as he has been out for over a month. They lack any real goal scoring power and have only 23 goals in the league this year, the joint lowest with Incheon United. Can Seongnam increase their goal-scoring tally on Saturday? Or will Jeju finally get another win under their belt?
#POHvSEO: Pohang Steelers (8th) Vs FC Seoul (3rd) 17:00
Pohang welcomes Seoul to the Steel Yard on Saturday, after a recent good run of form, picking up seven points out of the last three games. A goalless draw against Daegu in the last round sets up this fixture for the home team. FC Seoul claimed bragging rights once more against Incheon on Sunday. They ran out 3-1 winners, in what was a comfortable Gyeongin Derby in the end for Seoul. Park Chu-young was the star of the show in the last round, with two assists, and a converted penalty. Seoul will be eager for him to recreate this performance on Saturday.
Seoul have just edged Pohang this year in the K League 1, running out 2-0 winners in the first encounter, and a draw in the second. If Pohang are to get anything out of the game on the weekend, it will be from the help of Brazilian Wanderson Carvalho. He has had the most minutes for the side, and is also their leading goal scorer, with 12. The Steelers will not have any suspensions going into the game, but FC Seoul will be without Osmar, due to a collection of yellow cards picked up. The fixture will be important for both teams, for Seoul, it's an opportunity to catch up to the two-horse race between Jeonbuk and Ulsan, whereas for Pohang, it's a chance to etch closer to a top-six position.
#SSBvSAN: Suwon Samsung Bluewings (6th) Vs Sangju Sangmu (7th) 19:00
The final game of Saturday will see two teams still searching to be in the top-six come the split. With both teams level on points, and only one goal separating them, it is all to play for down in the Big Bird. Suwon will have the home advantage in the tie, yet the last fixture between the two played in Suwon ended in a stalemate. Suwon did beat Sangju 2-0 in their first meeting of the year. Both teams have had mixed fortunes as of late with wins and losses, however, you could say Sangju's defeats to Jeonbuk and Ulsan are more understandable, especially, compared to Suwon's defeats to the likes of struggling Incheon United and Gyeongnam.
For Suwon, they will once again look to 16 goal man Adam Taggart to lead the line for the Bluewings. The Australian has been prolific for the side this year and has been their main man in getting the goals for the side. Suwon will be without Hong Chul in the game. The defender picked up his third yellow card of the season against Seongnam and will be unavailable. Suwon will look to strengthen their defence without the Korean international in the line. He has played 26 times this year, with only one appearance off the bench. For Sangju, it will be the striker Park Yong-ji who will be their driving force, with ten goals for the campaign so far. As mentioned earlier, both teams only have one goal between them, for goals scored, yet Sangju's defence has been a little leakier than that of Suwon's. Sangju will have to keep their composure at the back if they are to keep Suwon's attack at bay.
Sunday 22nd September 2019
#ULSvGAN: Ulsan Hyundai (2nd) Vs Gangwon FC (4th) 17:00
Sunday starts with Ulsan Hyundai hosting Gangwon in the early kick-off. Ulsan are still chasing top spot, after dancing with Jeonbuk for the position since March. They welcome a Gangwon side, who have won two games back to back, and are showing strong contention to catch up to Seoul. Ulsan had the better of the two in the last meet up. Goals from Mix Diskerud and Kim Bo-kyung gave Ulsan the vital three points. The standard of football between the two sides has greatly increased from last year, and both sides will hope to continue this on Sunday evening.
The only absentee in the tie will be Ulsan's manager Kim Do-hoon, who will be serving the last of his five-game suspension. When it comes to the forwards for the two sides, Ulsan have Brazilian Junior as their ace up their sleeve. He has already scored 14 goals this year. They will also have Kim Bo-kyung who, as mentioned before, scored against Gangwon in their win back in July. For Gangwon, 23-year-old Kim Ji-hyun is their top scorer with 10, and they also have former Seoul E-Land star man Cho Jae-wan. The forward has not scored in over a month, however, back during their 3-3 draw against Jeonbuk. This should be an interesting fixture, with two teams looking to continue their good season and improve further as we approach the split.
#INCvDAE: Incheon United (11th) Vs Daegu (5th) 17:00
As the table is taking shape, it is Incheon United, who are still hanging on by the skin of their teeth from the automatic drop. Only one point separates them and Jeju United. They have the tall order of welcoming Daegu to town on the weekend. Daegu are unbeaten in five consecutive games and the visitors will fancy their chances for that to continue. Results against the two sides have not fallen in Incheon's favour this year, with both games ending in defeat for this weekend's home side. However, they have managed to score in the previous three games, which can give them hope in this fixture.
Cesinha has been the thorn in Incheon's side in this tie, scoring on both occasions. The Brazilian has 11 goals this year, yet only one ahead of Incheon's Mugoša. The Montenegrin international has been their shining star this season at Incheon and also leads the way at the club in assists and first goals. A win for Daegu and a loss for Gangwon would see them level on points with the men in orange. With Daegu's trip to Jeonbuk next week, this one is a must if they are to stay in contention for an ACL place. For Incheon, they will be looking to distance themselves from Jeju. There are still a lot of games left to be played in the K League 1 this year, but it might be the time for Incheon to start their usual survival push if they are to avoid relegation.
#GYEvJHM: Gyeongnam (10th) Vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (1st) 19:00
The final game of the weekend will see the league leaders Jeonbuk travel down to Gyeongnam, a team desperate to stay out of the two relegation spots. Jeonbuk haven't lost since May, but they have dropped some careless points along the way. They will look to increase their lead on chasers Ulsan and still be sitting first come the split. Gyeongnam are coming into this game after an entertaining 3-3 draw with Ulsan in the last round. A stoppage-time penalty from Đerić grasped them a point, in what was an enthralling game. Jeonbuk ran riot the last time the two teams met, with a scoreline of 4-1. However, a 3-3 draw in April saw Jeonbuk lose a three-goal lead. It looks as if Jeonbuk have somewhat sorted out their defensive errors from earlier in the season, but Gyeongnam would be happy if they could have a repeat of that scoreline, from when the two last meet.
Ricardo Lopes is Jeonbuk's leading goal scorer, bringing him level with Kim Shin-wook who has since departed for Shanghai Shenhua several months ago. Former Incheon man, Moon Seon-min has bagged eight for the team also, which gives an indication of the total football Jeonbuk play. They don't heavily rely on one or two players to get their goals. For Gyeongnam it is Đerić and Kim Seung-jun scoring the goals. They are both on six. Gyeongnam have been leaking goals this year, with 51 goals conceded. They are going head to head with the leagues' lead scorers on 61. The game will be important for both sides to stay away from teams behind them, meaning this one could be an explosive encounter.
K League United Columnist