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Round 1 K League Classic Power Rankings

With a new K-League season set to kickoff this weekend, we're pleased to introduce the first ever K League Classic Power Ranking. Written by Football Radar's Miroslav Tramita, this monthly feature will measure up everything from the games played to see if there's a slight difference in power rankings from what the league table says. Obviously there haven't been any league games played just yet, but there's been plenty to digest over the off season for all 12 teams.


The club from the capital brought in some really good players, including club legend Dejan, deep lying playmaker Ju Se-hong and Shin Jin-ho, who is able to play more or less anywhere on the pitch. All three of them started both games FC Seoul played so far and helped their team to put on some incredible performances in the AFC CL. If anyone can take Jeonbuk of the K League throne in 2016, this is the team! With added quality all over the pitch, the team is much more balanced than last season, played some really good football so far and scored 10 goals in the opening two games! No other team can start at the top of KLU Power Rankings!
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 1
Latest result: Won 4-1 vs Sanfrecce Hiroshima (ACL)
Next K-League match: Saturday at Jeonbuk

The champions were very active in the transfer market and probably only challenged by newly promoted Suwon FC. They brought in more than 10 players and got rid of the ones who were rarely making the team last season. It all sounds great, but Jeonbuk´s problem is most of the new signings are attacking players and you can only have a max of 4 or 5 of those on the pitch! Choi Kang-hee (Korean Rafa Benitez as I´d nicknamed him in my first season as K League analyst) will have a lot of fun putting the team together with so many options in attacking positions. However, it doesn't look so great in defence and Choi´s men have work to do in this regard. Both AFC CL games showed the champs have great potential offensively, but defense will be their Achilles heel unless they sign someone (or find him within the squad) to fill the gap left by Kim Kee-hee. If they don't sort out the defence, attacking players will have to outscore the opposition and it only worked 50% of the time so far in the AFC CL!
HIGH: 2 | LOW: 2
Latest result: Lost 3-2 at Jiangsu Suning (ACL)
Next K-League match: Saturday vs FC Seoul

Pohang lost quite a lot of attacking talent, but the defense and midfield stayed more or less unchanged and Son Joon-ho should run the game again this year. If Moon Chang-jin, Lazar and Lee Kwang-hyuk can stay fit and step up, the Steelers can possibly score enough goals to win games. Three AFC CL games so far showed their games will be based mainly on very organized defence and quick transitions. They managed to hold the reigning champions of Asia (Guangzhou Evergrande) to a 0-0 draw away and although there was some luck involved, it demonstrated where the strength of this team is. 1-0 win at home against Urawa was of similar nature, but they started their group of death better than expected! And better than Jeonbuk or Suwon BW.
HIGH: 3 | LOW: 3
Latest result: Won 1-0 vs Urawa Reds (ACL)
Next K-League match: Saturday vs Gwangju

This will be Jung Hwan-yoon`s second season in charge of the East Coast side and there seems to be clear intention of how he would like his team to play. Ulsan didn`t have a problem letting both of their strikers from last season go, namely the league's top scorer, the Wookie, Kim Shin-wook. They signed a number of decent players in midfield and attack with Lee Jung-hyup likely to lead the line. I think they will be more consistent this season and can challenge for AFC CL. However, they were expected to do so in 2015 and if it wasn't for Busan`s kindness, they could have been in real trouble. Let's see how much they can improve this term!
HIGH: 4 | LOW: 4
Latest result: N/A - Preseason
Next K-League match: Sunday at Sangju Sangmu

Well, well, well. Perhaps I'm being too harsh here, but from what I have seen so far, Suwon BW can no longer be considered title contenders. Cut in finance from Samsung is really evident and unlike Jeonbuk or FC Seoul, they failed to bring in any `bigger` name and it's all down to Yeom Ki-hun and Kwon Chang-hoon. A fair amount of injuries right at the beginning of the season doesn't really help and Seo Jung-won will hope players returning from loan and military duty can fit into the team and do at least as well as in their respective clubs last season. It`s not all that tragic though, they still have quality in the team, but important players would need to stay fit and deliver what is expected of them if they are to push for AFC CL this season!
HIGH: 5 | LOW: 5
Latest result: Lost 2-1 at Shanghai SIPG (ACL)
Next K-League match: Saturday at Seongnam

From now on (+Ulsan tbf), I can only base my ranking on the changes to the squad. There's not much info available on pre-season so it's difficult to assess how the teams improved or worsen. Seongnam lost 4 regulars in midfield from 2015, but managed to keep Hwang Ui-jo, playmaker Kim Do-heon and both CBs. Return of Lim Chae-min would be considered as a new signing given he missed the majority of last season and he should add even more quality to Seongnam`s strong defense. They added some interesting players to their squad to replace players that left and I expect them to remain top 6 this season again. KFA Cup seems like their most likely way to AFC CL so they probably will take the competition quite seriously.
HIGH: 6 | LOW: 6
Latest result: N/A - Preseason
Next K-League match: Saturday vs Suwon BW

Kim Do-hoon's team seems to pretty much only replace all the players that left in the off season. Kim Tae-su should add some quality in the centre of the pitch following his arrival from Pohang and Velkoski could be that bit of creativity that Incheon missed last season. They are likely to play very deep again and rely on Jonjić to have another brilliant season while Kevin Oris should be at the end of the crosses. I can't see them doing better than last year.
HIGH: 7 | LOW: 7
Latest result: N/A - Preseason
Next K-League match: Sunday at Jeju

I was very skeptical about the Islanders following the departure of their two best players soon after the season ended. Lopes left for Jeonbuk and perhaps my fav player in the whole league opted for whatever the Chinese league has to offer. I will really miss Yoon Bit-garam`s class, but hopefully Jeju can be as entertaining a team to watch without him as they were last season. A couple of other regulars left Jeju-do, but as ever, there are Brazilians to come out of nowhere and provide a bit of magic! We'll see if Toscano and Moises can fill the gap left by Lopes, but Jeju signed Kim Ho-nam from Gwangju and Kwon Yong-hyun from Suwon FC in the wide areas and that`s two players I'm really looking forward to see in this attacking team. I'm not really convinced that this team has enough to push for top 6 this season, but if they can sort their very leaky defence out, nada es imposible!
HIGH: 8 | LOW: 8
Latest result: N/A - Preseason
Next K-League match: Sunday vs Incheon

The Dragons are a team that failed to address their main weakness from last season almost completely. They were really poor when defending set-pieces and attacks through the center of the pitch and I wonder whether Noh Sang-rae did or didn't want to acknowledge that. Lim Jong-Eun left alongside the team's biggest star, Lee Jong-Ho, for Jeonbuk and I really wonder who will be in the heart of the defense this season! Bang Dae-jong and Lee Ji-nam were really terrible last season and many goals were conceded due to their mistakes and some of them were just shocking. Yang Joon-A arrived from Jeju, but he wasn't very reliable himself and it appears he will rather play DM than CB anyway. I give more chances to the likes of Cho Suk-jae and Jugović being able to fill the gap left by Gwangyang Rooney than 31 year old CBs improving their game enough to give this team a chance of top 6 finish! Once again, Dragons will look up to Stevo and Oršić to outscore oppositions.
HIGH: 9 | LOW: 9
Latest result: N/A - Preseason
Next K-League match: Sunday vs Suwon FC

The smaller of the Suwon clubs had to do it the long way, but they managed to keep their form and edge past everyone in their way to Classic during the promotion/relegation play off. There was a massive turnaround of players as Suwon FC lost all 5 main attacking players. However, they signed some really interesting players who should be hungry for football. Lee Seung-yeoul and Lee Seung-hyun will be happy to see much more game time than Choi Kang-hee offered them at Jeonbuk and should be players that will trouble opposition defenses a lot. The club tried to replicate success Sisi by signing the experienced Jaime Gavillan. I believe they will stay up!
HIGH: 10 | LOW: 10
Latest result: N/A - Preseason
Next K-League match: Sunday at Jeonnam

The military team`s chances of survival will very much depend on the amount of points they can collect before the exodus of players whose military duty will come to an end in September (if I'm correct). There are some decent players and the new manager might bring some improvement, but I still expect them to struggle in Classic. They were really inconsistent last season and unless Cho Jin-ho can stabilize this team and play his best players all the time (something that wasn't a rule last season under Park Hang-seo), they could be in real trouble even before the exodus.
HIGH: 11 | LOW: 11
Latest result: N/A - Preseason
Next K-League match: Sunday vs Ulsan

This will be Gwangju`s second season in Classic and their survival in 2015 goes down mainly to Daejeon and Busan being absolutely dreadful for the majority of the season. Gwangju lost playmaker Lim Sun-young due to military duty and their main source of goals last season, Kim Ho-nam, left for Jeju. They brought in experienced Jung Jo-gook and talented Kim Min-hyeok from FC Seoul, but I'm not convinced they can replace the influential duo that left. Even if they do, I think Sangju and Suwon FC are better teams than Daejeon and Busan were last season and Gwangju are the main candidates to go straight down.
HIGH: 12 | LOW: 12
Latest result: N/A - Preseason
Next K-League match: Saturday at Pohang

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