Following this weekend's K League 1 fixtures each team will have played each other once, painting a picture for how the rest of the campaign could pan out. The league table is well and truly taking shape with two early front runners; Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors who play Seongnam FC at home this Saturday and Ulsan Hyundai who are away to an in-form Daegu FC side 24 hours later. Elsewhere, Incheon United take on high-flying Sangju Sangmu still looking for their first win of the campaign and Busan IPark host FC Seoul for Friday night football. For that and more, a comprehensive guide to 2020 K League 1 Round 11.

Friday 10th June

#BUSvSEO: Busan IPark (6th) vs FC Seoul (9th) - 19:30

The weekend's action kicks off on Friday night when Busan IPark entertain FC Seoul at the Gudeok Stadium. Busan host Seoul on the back of an impressive away win over Gangwon FC, edging past Kim Byung-soo's side in a 4-2 victory. The win was the south coast side's second on the trot in all competitions and extended their unbeaten run to five. The 2019 K League 2 MVP, Lee Dong-jun, fired in a brace in Gangneung for his first goals in the top division. Brazilian playmaker Rômulo and Korean international forward Lee Jeong-hyeop remain as Busan's top scorers with four goals apiece in 2020. 


FC Seoul, meanwhile, make the long trip south to the opposite end of the Gyeongbusan KTX line on the back of a thrilling 3-3 Super Match draw with rivals Suwon Bluewings. Looking to build on the Gyeongin Derby win over Incheon in the previous round, Seoul managed to fight their way back from behind not once but twice to earn their share of the spoils. Choi Yong-soo should have a relatively full squad at his disposal; Cho Young-wook's impressive display and well-taken goal in the Super Match might just be enough for the youngster to keep his place in the side. Meanwhile, Kim Nam-chun is just one yellow away from serving a one-match ban. Prior to Saturday's Super Match, Seoul hadn't been able to score three goals in one match since September 2019 - the 3-1 Gyeongin Derby win. At the other end, Seoul have conceded the same number of goals as Incheon with 21 and, like the Durumi, have the joint worst xG in the division and have the worst xGA in K League 1, Busan fourth suggesting that there might be goals in Friday's match.


Read Tom Marcantonio's preview here


Saturday 11th June

#JEOvSFC: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (1st) vs Seongnam FC (11th) - 19:00

Looking to bounce back from last weekend's defeat to Sangju Sangmu, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors welcome Seongnam FC to Jeonju Castle this Saturday. The loss to Sangju was the Green Warriors' second of the campaign and ended a run of five straight victories. Despite the loss, Jeonbuk remain top of the table but only a point ahead of second placed Ulsan Hyundai. Anything less than a home win could see Jose Morais' side surrender top spot with the Horangi waiting to pounce. Jeonbuk will be without left back Kim Jin-su through suspension whilst Seongnam centre back Lee Chang-yong is also out through a suspension of his own.


The Magpies, meanwhile, will be determined to get back to winning ways after a string of disappointing results. Kim Nam-il and his men are now six league matches without a win, despite a promising start to the new campaign. The fledgling manager guided Seongnam to two wins and two draws in his first four matches in charge and so will be keen for his team to recapture that form. Seongnam sit second-bottom but on the same number of points as Suwon Samsung Bluewings. A first win over Jeonbuk in five years could be enough for Seongnam to climb to within touching distance of the top half should results elsewhere go their way. Last season's encounters were the first between the two sides since 2016; Seongnam picked up a 0-0 draw at home on Children's Day but then succumbed to two defeats thereafter. 



#POHvSSB: Pohang Steelers (5th) vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings (10th) - 19:00

Pohang Steelers head into the weekend's home fixture with Suwon Samsung Bluewings as the division's joint second top scorers with 21 goals scored, six more than league leaders Jeonbuk, and 10 more than their opponents this Saturday. Suwon Samsung Bluewings head to the east coast on the back of a 3-3 Super Match draw with FC Seoul, despite holding a 3-1 lead at half time. The Bluewings now sit in 10th but, potentially, are just a win away from the top six. A win for Pohang would further cement their place in the top half and even a place in the top three. Suwon will have to be wary of Stanilav Iljutcenko, the German striker has seven for the season and four assists, spearheading Pohang's charge towards ACL qualification.


Suwon Bluewings perhaps felt as though the long wait for a Super Match win was over when Lee Lim-saeng's side went in at half time 3-1 up. A brace from Adam Taggart would have been pleasing to see but a second half fight back from Seoul left Suwon having to make do with a point for their endeavours. Adam Taggart's return to form will give the Bluewings confidence heading into this weekend's match and so the Socceroo will be gunning for a first goal against the Steelers. In the last four meetings the victors have been able to keep a cleansheet, both times have picked up two wins each. From 37 meetings in Pohang, the Steelers have 14 wins to Suwon's seven and 16 draws. Pohang are likely to be without influential midfielder Aleksandar Paločević through injury as the Serbian as missed the last three matches while Suwon officially begin life without Hong Chul following the Korean international left backs move to Ulsan.


Read Shibajee Das' preview here


#INCvSAN: Incheon United (12th) vs Sangmu Sangmu (3rd) - 19:00

K League 1 basement side Incheon United host high-flying Sangju Sangmu this Saturday, still in search of a first win in 2020. United are seven points adrift of Seongnam in 11th and welcome the army side in desperate need of three points. Following the Gyeongin Derby defeat to FC Seoul, Lim Wan-sub stepped down as manager meaning that Lim Joong-yong has been placed in caretaker charge. Lim will be hoping that the Blue Black can put last week's 4-1 defeat to Ulsan behind them and try to add to their tally of four goals so far in 2020 - the fewest in the division.


Sangju, meanwhile, have made an excellent start to the new campaign, winning six, drawing two and losing just twice. Such form is enough for Kim Tae-wan's men to occupy the dizzy heights of third place. Sangju make the trip to Incheon on the back of five straight wins with with five consecutive cleansheets too. On-loan Pohang Steelers midfielder Kang Sang-woo is the North Gyeongsang outfit's top scorer with four and also has two assists to his name. Incheon, though, won the last two meetings between these two sides - a 2-0 victory at home last November and a 3-2 away triumph at the end of last September. In the last six encounters Incheon have three wins to Sangju's two and a draw. Following the departure of Gordan Bunoza, Incheon added Oh Ban-suk on loan from Jeonbuk to add defensive reinforcements.


Read Tim Barnes' preview here


Sunday 12th July

#DAEvULS: Daegu FC (4th) vs Ulsan Hyundai (2nd) - 19:00

Daegu FC's stellar form of late has propelled the Sky Blues into fourth in the table, level on points with Pohang on points and goals-scored but with a better defensive record. It took Daegu five attempts to pick up a win in 2020 after three draws and falling to a 2-0 defeat away to Jeonbuk in their opening matches. But, since then, there has been a 6-0 demolition over FC Seoul and a run of seven games unbeaten in all competitions including five league victories. With four goals in seven appearances, K League legend Dejan Damjanović has hit form right on cue. 'Summer Dejan' is known for hitting peak form during the summer months and will be hoping that his brace and assist against Gwangnju last time out will be enough for the former Montenegrin international to keep his place in the side.


Up next for Daegu is title contenders Ulsan Hyundai, fresh from a comfortable 4-1 win over Incheon last time out. Leading the line for the Horangi is the division's top scorer Júnior Negrão who currently has 12 goals from 10 league outings. The Brazilian is on course to beat his personnel best of 22 goals in a single league campaign. Ulsan could well be on course for a best campaign of their own but will face a tough test at DGB Daegu Bank Park. There is history between these two teams as Daegu overcame Ulsan over two legs in the 2018 FA Cup Final. Kim Kee-hee is suspended for the Horangi, Dave Bulthuis is likely to play instead. 



#GANvGWA: Gangwon FC (7th) vs Gwangju FC (8th) - 19:00

Despite such a solid start to the new season with just two defeats from their opening six matches, Gangwon FC now find themselves on a run of four straight league losses. Kim Byung-soo's side were able to book their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup last week but needed extra time against cross-town neighbours Gangneung City. Gangwon will therefore be determined to get back to winning ways when newly promoted Gwangju FC make the long trip to the north east coast this Sunday. Sunday's match will be an intriguing one because the hosts, Gangwon, have enjoyed the most possession out of any K League 1 side this term with 63%. Gwangju, meanwhile, have had the ball the least with just 40.8 percent. Key passes are likely to come from Kim Seung-dae for Gangwon who has 11 so far, for Gwangju that would be young star Eom Won-sang who has seven despite missing the first three matches of the season.


Gwangju too are struggling for form a bit of late with three defeats on the spin in the league. The South Jeolla side needed extra time and penalties to ease past K3 side Gimpo Citizen in the FA Cup. 

Brazilian striker Felipe is joint top in K League 1 for the number of headed goals scored with three of his five goals this term being headers. Felipe also has the third-best shooting accuracy in K League 1 with 45.83% of all shot finding the target. Last time out, Gwangju were reduced to nine men in the defeat to Daegu with Lee Min-gi and Yeo Bong-hoon both seeing red. The pair will miss out this weekend, as too will Brazilian winger Willyan. There have only been 15 meetings between these two sides and Gangwon have managed just three wins to Gwangju's five and seven draws. All three of Gangwon's wins over Gwangju have come at home.


Read Peter Hampshire's preview here


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Paul Neat

Managing Editor

paul@kleagueunited.com