The 2021 Hana Bank K League 1 season kicks off on Saturday, starting with champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors hosting FC Seoul for the top flight curtain-raiser. Both will have new managers in the dugout with Kim Sang-sik taking over from Jose Morais for Jeonbuk and Park Jin-sub trading Gwangju for the capital. Elsewhere across the three-day weekend, Jeju United and Suwon FC return to the top flight with games against Seongnam FC and Daegu FC respectively. What to look out for in K League 1 Round 1.
Match of the Round
Two K League giants get the top tier underway on Saturday when reigning champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors host FC Seoul. Both teams will have new managers in the dugout - Kim Sang-sik making the step up from assistant for Jeonbuk, while Park Jin-sub is set to take charge of a first competitive match for FC Seoul for the first time having joined from Gwangju FC over the winter.
Team of the Round
Ironically, Jeju United's last K League 1 match was against their opponents this Monday - Seongnam FC. In the opposing dugout on that November afternoon was Nam Ki-il, the man who guided the Islanders back to the top flight last year. A brief spell in the second division was capped off with the K League 2 title, eventually finishing the season with a 16-match unbeaten run with 12 wins to finish six points clear of Suwon FC in second. With a busy transfer window, during which the Tangerines brought in a number of new players such as Song Ju-han, Yeo Reum, Gerso Fernandes, and Oskar Zawada among others and so will be keen to hit the ground running on opening day. Over the last 10 seasons, Jeju United have had a 50% opening day win record and have lost just once.
Player of the Round
Serbian striker Uroš Đerić joined Suwon Samsung Bluewings from Gyeongnam FC over the winter and will be tasked with firing the Bluewings back into the top half of the table this term. Đerić finished as second top scorer in 2018 while in the orange of Gangwon FC, scoring 24 goals as Kim Byung-soo's side finished 6th in the table. A move to the South Coast with Gyeongnam was blighted by injuries but the 28-year-old has signalled his intent to be the prolific striker the Big Bird faithful craves. Since arriving in Korea three years ago, Đerić has scored 38 goals with an expected goals (xG) of 34.17. Suwon take on Gwangju FC on Sunday at Big Bird.
K League 1 Round 1 Fixtures
#SSBvGWA: Suwon Samsung Bluewings vs Gwangju FC: 16:30 KST
Where to Watch