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Round 8 K League Classic Power Rankings

With 7 rounds of K League played and AFC Champions League group stages going into Match Day 6, there's finally enough time to take another look at the K League Classic Power Rankings. After considering how teams performed since the K League Classic kicked off on 13th of March, quite a bit has changed. Football Radar's Miroslav Tramita stops by yet again to offer up his list:


Despite losing the opening game of the season against Jeonbuk, no other team can top the list! They went on to win their next 6 league games and are now 5 pts clear at the top of the table. They also won their ACL group with a game to spare and are arguably the most in-form team in Asia right now. The "DeAdriano" combo up front works perfectly so far and Park Chu-Young is also able to fill for them from the start or come off the bench and score important goals (see previous game v Ulsan away). The departure of Shin Jin-Ho to Sangju might slow them down a bit as they need to replace him in midfield trio, but they look unstoppable at the moment.
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 1
Latest result: Won 2-1 at Ulsan
Next K-League match: Saturday at Suwon Bluewings

A very good start by “All Blacks” as they have only suffered one defeat so far - away to Jeonbuk! Thiago Alves is their main man with 5 goals and a couple of assists and the team should only get stronger with Kim Do-Heon and Lim Chae-Min returning from injuries recently. Hwang Ui-Jo started the season poorly, but looks a bit sharper in the last couple of games and his goals should help the team push for top 3 again this season. They are surely disappointed in the last 3 games as they only picked up 2 points, but they were really unlucky against Jeonnam at home (0-0) and it won't be easy to get anything from away games at Jeonbuk (2-3) and Jeju (2-2) for other teams either.
HIGH: 2 | LOW: 6
Latest result: Drew 2-2 at Jeju United
Next K-League match: Sunday vs Gwangju FC

To rank them any lower would be harsh on the Champions. Choi Kang-Hee’s excessive rotation is most likely the reason why Jeonbuk failed to impress so far, but they are second in the table and in a good position to win their ACL group. They managed to win important league games at home against Seoul and Seongnam only to drop points against Sangju in the latest match. They also went from a humiliating defeat to Binh Doung to a flawless performance away to Tokyo in the ACL. As you can guess, they are fairly inconsistent so far and have yet to find balance between a leaky defence and a very strong attack. However, their quality up front keeps them out of serious trouble for now.
HIGH: 2 | LOW: 3
Latest result: Drew 2-2 at Sangju Sangmu
Next K-League match: Saturday vs Suwon FC

Remember, this ranking doesn't necessarily have to closely follow the actual league table and this is where I'd like to make the first major deviation! With all the changes to the squad and majority of “big” signings yet to reach full fitness, the playoff winners prove to be very tough team to beat. Their only defeat came in round 6 away to FC Seoul, so there's no shame in that. When the new attacking players gel together, we can expect their games to be more entertaining, but they've enjoyed a decent start to the season in terms of results and that's more important than playing eye-catching football… for now.
HIGH: 4 | LOW: 10
Latest result: Drew 0-0 vs Incheon United
Next K-League match: Saturday at Jeonbuk Motors

The Islanders started the season as expected: tough to beat at home when they attack relentlessly, but struggling on the road where teams are more confident against them. However, unlike the previous season, it only took them 3 away games to record their first win on the road when they edged Ulsan 0-1. They “dropped” two points against Suwon Bluewings at home, but managed to “save” point against Seongnam in the last match and their effort despite being 0-2 down was incredible. Lee Keun-Ho netted twice in his first proper start and Jeju would hope their best paid player in history can keep it up! Prior to the season, Cho Sung-Hwan said an ACL spot is their target and they started reasonably well to keep them well in fight for that. 
HIGH: 5 | LOW: 8
Latest result: Drew 2-2 vs Seongnam
Next K-League match: Saturday at Pohang Steelers

One of the biggest clubs in K League was highly expected to struggle this season following Samsung's decision to cut the financial support and the team's failure to sign proven striker. That expectation rang true through the first few games of the season and the absence of a true striker is still evident. However, the Bluewing´s strength in midfield makes up for it to some extent. Yeom Ki-Hun and Yang Sang-Min connection down the left is working great while Kwon Chang-Hoon and Santos really stepped up in April. They're 10 pts behind Seoul now, but aren't really expected to challenge for the title this season, so a top 3 finish is more realistic target. A great win away to Gamba Osaka still keeps their dreams of making ACL knockout stages alive and their recent form surely gives them confidence going into the home Super Match on Saturday.
HIGH: 5 | LOW: 6
Latest result: Drew 1-1 at Gwangju
Next K-League match: Saturday vs FC Seoul

I expected Gwangju to be rock bottom from the start, but they're doing fine despite a 4-game losing streak in April. Jung Jo-Gook brought goals and Kim Min-Hyeok is filling up the hole left by Lim Sung-Yun and supplies him nicely; the former FC Seoul duo are the main reason Gwangju are mid-table. They really need to improve at the back though. Captain Lee Jong-Min is the only reliable defender, but even his quality can´t make up for silly mistakes of other members of back four and goalkeeper.
HIGH: 7 | LOW: 12
Latest result: Drew 1-1 vs Suwon Bluewings
Next K-League match: Sunday at Seongnam FC

The Army team reminds of Jeju so far. They can take on anyone at home, but every team fancy their chances against them in front of their own fans. Cho Jin-Ho seems to be still looking for his optimal XI, but they are doing fine and their latest 2-2 draw against Jeonbuk proved they can cause troubles to any team. Shin Jin-Ho and Yun Young-Sun will add some extra quality to this team and I can see them collecting enough points to survive before the September exodus.
HIGH: 8 | LOW: 11
Latest result: Drew 2-2 vs Jeonbuk Motors
Next K-League match: Sunday at Jeonnam Dragons

Not the worse start for Ulsan, but they simply failed to impress me to be any higher. No one really drives the team forward and takes true responsibility. Han Sang-Woon, Kovacec and Lee Jung-Hyup are all talented and have shown moments of brilliance, but there's no consistency from them and the same applies to thee team's results. There´s a lot to improve and some players need to step up if they really want to challenge for anything serious this season. Top six is absolute minimum for a team with so much talent.
HIGH: 4 | LOW: 9
Latest result: Lost 2-1 vs FC Seoul
Next K-League match: Sunday at Incheon United

Noh Sang-Rae has made the Dragons look like a total mess so far with questionable selections, substitutions and the way he wants them to play. Their squad isn't big and not much quality was added prior to the season, but as expected, the club's ability to sign Mislav Orsić permanently has already proven to be crucial. He´s the only player to start all 7 games for Jeonnam and they would be in big trouble without him. He's scored 3 goals already and his fantastic long range effort earned his team their first win of the season when they edged 10-men Pohang in the POSCO derby. Other players need to follow the example set by the Croatian, but the question is whether Noh is the right man to lead this squad? If he continues to manage the team the same way he did for the opening 7 games, Orsic´and Co. might find it difficult to climb higher up the table despite all their efforts.
HIGH: 9 | LOW: 10
Latest result: Won 1-0 at Pohang Steelers
Next K-League match: Sunday vs Sangju Sangmu

The only team without a win so far and it needs to be said, they were never even close to getting one! If it wasn't for Song Si-Woo´s two late goals against Jeonbuk and Suwon BW, they would be 5 pts behind a relegation play off spot already! Their defence is nowhere near the level of 2015 and Jonjić (their rock solid CB last season) looks like a completely different player in his second year in Korea. The club is also in financial problems again and I really wonder who is going to lead this team into safer waters...if anyone.
HIGH: 7 | LOW: 11
Latest result: Drew 0-0 vs Suwon FC
Next K-League match: Sunday vs Ulsan

Yes, they are that bad in my opinion! The Steelers were expected to struggle following changes to the squad and management in the off-season, but certainly not to this extent. They started ACL reasonably well with a goalless draw away to Guangzhou Evergrande and 1-0 win at home against Urawa, but it only got worse once the K League kicked off. Injuries have not been kind to them and the long term loss of Son Joon-Ho is surely a setback, but to only score 2 goals in the last 7 games is a ridiculous record for one of the biggest clubs in Korea! They are now out of ACL and only outside the relegation zone in the league thanks to goal difference. Choi Jin-Cheul really has a job to do and players who are expected to carry the team need to find their form quickly if they want to stay in touch with top 3.
HIGH: 3 | LOW: 12
Latest result: Lost 1-0 vs Jeonnam Dragons
Next K-League match: Saturday vs Jeju United

What do you think? Are some teams unjustly low? Some riding far too high? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


  1. Seoul will miss Shin Jin-ho. Lee Seok-hyun is a good player band he scores goals, but Shin felt like the catalyst for much of what has been good for Seoul. I'm surprised Pohang is so low, but I agree with you, although maybe not 12th. They got off to a good start but have come back to earth. They really were decimated in the winter transfer window

  2. Great read. Thanks for the update. GO FC SEOUL! VIVA K LEAGUE CLASSICO!


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