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Round 12 K League Classic Power Rankings

With every team having played each other at least once, it's time once again for Football Radar's Miroslav Tramita to take stock of the K-League Classic Power Rankings. For our third edition of the Rankings, we have a new number one, three newcomers to the top four, and a number of dramatic shifts in the ranks. 


With 12 rounds now complete, Jeonbuk are top of the league with a 3 point cushion and remain unbeaten. Yet to play their best and consistent football, Choi Kang-hee seems to finally be finding his best XI with only few surprising selections in the past month or so. The double squad during ACL Round of 16 vs Melbourne worked perfectly too and although they made it difficult for themselves right at the end of the return leg, they are into the final 8. Their defence remains the weak link and they've conceded in their last 10 games, but their attackers just make sure to outscore the opposition. Unbeaten at the top of the league, into last 8 of ACL and round of 16 of KFA Cup? No other team can be at the top of our Power Ranking.
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 3
Latest result: Drew 1-1 at Gwangju
Next K-League match: Sunday at Seongnam

May was a very good month for Gwangju who only lost against Seongnam at Tancheon. That defeat was followed by three 1-0 wins and a penalty win away to Jeju that took them into last 16 of KFA Cup. Comfortably away from the relegation zone, they played a fine game against Jeonbuk a few days ago and saved a draw with a late goal. Decent month for the club that saw Kim Nam-Il awarded manager of the month in May - well deserved!
HIGH: 2 | LOW: 12
Latest result: Drew 1-1 vs Jeonbuk
Next K-League match: Saturday at Jeju

Do they just love playing away from home? Not great at home this season, Ulsan have won 4 away games in a row and are up to 5th now. Not many teams will come away with all 3 pts from Big Bird or Seogwipo so they deserve a lot of credit for doing that. Kovacec, Kim Seung-jun and Kim Tae-hwan are deadly on the counter and teams should be more careful when playing them at home not to offer those three much space to break into. If Ulsan improves at home, this could be the season they've been hoping for a couple of years now. 
HIGH: 3 | LOW: 9
Latest result: Won 2-1 at Jeju
Next K-League match: Saturday vs Sangju Sangmu

A fine month for the Islanders despite a defeat at home to Ulsan and going out on pens v Gwangju in the KFA Cup. However, those two setbacks can't overshadow impressive wins against Suwon FC or Jeonnam. Their latest match in Seoul was the game of the season so far and they came away with all 3 points after being 3-1 down with 25 mins to go. Not many teams are able to come back against Seoul once behind and I can't see any other team being able to come back from 2 down. Their attacking football is very enjoyable to watch, but they can be very wasteful in big chances and it cost them a few times. Out of the KFA Cup now, their only chance for ACL next season is through the league and if they improve their chance conversion and tighten up at the back, they can definitely push for top 3.
HIGH: 4 | LOW: 8
Latest result: Won 4-3 at Seoul
Next K-League match: Saturday vs Gwangju

Apart from beating Seongnam away and making it into the last 8 of ACL through penalties, Seoul have been running out of steam in the past month. It took some magic from Adriano to get them into the next round of the KFA Cup, but he hasn`t been at his best otherwise. Seoul have only earned one point from their last three home games and are now 3 pts behind Jeonbuk. The team is missing Shin Jin-ho more than expected and although Takahagi and Ju Se-jong still run the midfield, they just can`t find the link between them and DeAdriano. Lee Seok-hyun, Yun Il-lok, Ko Yo-han were all used there, but it just doesn't work. The best option appears to be pushing Osmar into DM and Ju Se-jong higher up, but that leaves them too open at the back as other CBs can't fill the hole left by Osmar. July is here soon and Choi Yong-soo will hope he can sign a player that would fit that role in midfield. 
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 5
Latest result: Lost 3-4 to Jeju United
Next K-League match: Sunday at Suwon FC

The All Blacks are still third despite losing their last two home games. Few expected them to be the first team to lose to Incheon, especially at home, but hopefully that will be a wake up call before coming up against Jeonbuk this weekend. They were impressive against Gwangju and Ulsan, and in turning the game around away to Sangju when Hwang Ui-jo and Kim Do-hoon came on for the second half after surprisingly being on the bench. Thiago has been the main man for them and they would need him to return to his best ASAP as Jeju are seriously threatening to move ahead of them to third! 
HIGH: 2 | LOW: 6
Latest result: Lost 0-1 to Incheon United
Next K-League match: Sunday vs Jeonbuk Motors

The Army team started May with an incredible turnaround against Jeonnam where they came from 3-1 down to win the game in the last 10 minutes. They were surprisingly eliminated by Dankook University in the KFA Cup, but none of the players that would play in the next game featured and this suggests they didn´t care about a cup run too much. All important players returned against Incheon when Sangju came up with yet another comeback, coming from 2-0 down to win 4-2! Two defeats followed, but who knows how the match at Jeonju would've finished if it wasn't for Lee Yong´s sending off when the ref should've booked Leonardo for a dive really. Sangju were 1-0 up, managed to score another on a counter when down to 10 men, but Jeonbuk´s incredible pressure eventually brought 3 goals and Sangju were on the infamous side of turnarounds for once. Still well away from relegation and they should get better once Shin Jin-ho is finally available in midfield. 
HIGH: 7 | LOW: 11
Latest result: Lost 3-2 at Jeonbuk Motors
Next K-League match: Saturday at Ulsan

Difficult to rank remaining teams as there have been pros and cons for all of them, but Pohang seems to be the best of the remaining bunch. They continue to be very inconsistent and can go from brilliant to dreadful from game to game as expressed by their fantastic performance away to Seoul and losing to Bucheon in the KFA Cup a few days later. Choi Jin-Cheol has used a 3-4-3/3-4-1-2 formation recently and completely freezes out Moon Chang-jin who should be the creative force in the team. Choi seems to prefer combative midfielders and focus their attacks down the flanks, but with mixed (or rather poor) results since the formation change, maybe it's time to return back to the 4-3-3 and let Moon prove he can do as well in the league as for the Olympic team. 
HIGH: 3 | LOW: 12
Latest result: Drew 2-2 vs Suwon Bluewings
Next K-League match: Sunday at Jeonnam Dragons

The smaller of the Suwon clubs won only one game in May, but they've had massive injury problems all over the pitch and that surely played a part. They definitely deserved to get something out of the first ever Suwon Derby and were beaten by Gwangju thanks to very harsh penalty. They'll hope the international break gives injured players enough time to recover and their decent performances will help them pick up more points than in the past month. 
HIGH: 4 | LOW: 10
Latest result: Lost 1-0 at Gwangju
Next K-League match: Sunday vs FC Seoul

The bigger of the Suwon clubs continues to struggle for results and defence has been the main reason. Yeom Ki-hun, Santos and Kwon Chang-hoon are doing their best in the opposition half, but the Bluewings just can't see games out. Many K-League followers see the absence of a good striker as the reason of their struggles, but Kim Gun-hee and Cho Dong-geon are not actually doing that badly. The Bluewings have scored 18 goals (5th highest scorers), but conceded 21 goals (2nd highest). Signing of former Daegu striker Johnathan might help them score more, but they need to improve at the back if they are to climb higher up the table. 
HIGH: 5 | LOW: 10
Latest result: Drew 2-2 at Pohang Steelers
Next K-League match: Saturday at Incheon United

Still bottom of the table, but they improved in the last month and are close to earning point(s) in every game now. Kevin Oris is in great form and his superb goal was enough to win them their first game of the season and close the gap on the 11th placed Dragons. Their football isn't pretty, but that's the last thing they care about. They tighten up at the back (except for the collapse v Sangju when leading 2-0) and make it very difficult for opponents to create chances. If Kevin stays in form, there might be few more ugly 1-0 wins coming! 
HIGH: 7 | LOW: 11
Latest result: Won 1-0 at Seongnam
Next K-League match: Saturday vs Suwon Bluewings

It all looked bright for the Dragons after a surprising 1-0 win in the POSCO Derby and being 3-1 up at home against Sangju with 10 mins left in the following game. Somehow, Jeonnam managed to throw it away and lost 3-4 to kill any hopes for improvement. They progressed into the next stage of KFA Cup with an easy 4-0 win against Gangwon, but their league form remained poor and they are just one point ahead of Incheon now. Noh Sang-rae handed in his resignation at the beginning of May only to see it refused by the board. That doesn't seem to help the team at all and his selections show how desperate he is to turn things around. Kim Min-sik, Choi Hyo-jin, Hyun Young-min and Ristić are all frozen out completely or only sitting on the bench as he's opted for younger players in last few games. Unfortunately, it's had no real effect as they only earned 2 points from their last 5 league games. They managed to pick up a surprising point away to FC Seoul, but the team from the capital rested heavily following exhausting ACL match vs Urawa a few days earlier and fielded a fairly weak team. Jeonbuk did the same in the Jeolla Derby, but still managed to beat the Dragons thanks to Luiz Henrique`s late goal. With Incheon picking up their first win of the season, Jeonnam are in real trouble now. 
HIGH: 9 | LOW: 12
Latest result: Drew 1-1 at FC Seoul
Next K-League match: Sunday vs Pohang Steelers

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!

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