Round 28 K League Classic Power Rankings
With just 6 rounds left until the Championship Round and Relegation Round split, Football Radar's Miroslav Tramita gives an updated K-League Classic Power Rankings. Only three teams managed to move up from the last Power Ranking, but one of them jumped 10 spots!
Not much needs to be said here. 27 games into the season and the Champions are still unbeaten. The fact they haven't really been tested just shows how much they stand out in K League and it's difficult to see Seoul getting a shot at the title even if Jeonbuk hit a crisis. AFC CL is the only true challenge for Jeonbuk and their season's success is likely to be judged by their achievement there rather than another K League title. Oh, as per summer transfer window, Edu has been fairly disappointing and Choi KH`s experiment with him and Lee Dong-Gook up front together almost resulted in their first defeat of the season at Pohang. Anyway, no else can be top of this ranking.
— LAST MONTH: 1
HIGH: 1 | LOW: 3
|Latest result: Won 3-1 at Incheon United|
Next K-League match: Sunday at FC Seoul
Who would've thought Dragons can actually play some good football this season? It all looked very bleak at Gwangyang at the start of July, but the team has improved incredibly since then. They went on 5-game unbeaten run in the league and only lost to Seongnam away and Seoul at home during that time. They also took their KFA Cup match at Seoul WC Stadium to penalties. New signings are looking really good and Jair is arguably the best summer transfer across the league. Jeonnam are 8 points outside the relegation zone at the moment and looking more likely to challenge for top 6 than dropping back into dangerous waters. It was very close call between Dragons and Seoul for the second spot, but given the expectations and previous standing of both clubs, I`ve opted for Jeonnam!
|Latest result: Drew 1-1 at Suwon Samsung Bluewings|
Next K-League match: Sunday vs Pohang
Seoul`s title winning chances took a bullet in late June / early July when they went on to 3-match losing streak and were forced to change the manager. Hwang SH was arguably the best possible replacement, but even he couldn't deliver results right away. Due to that, the capital club is “only” third in this ranking. They hit the ground in late July and are on 5-game winning streak now. A crucial turnaround ahead of their AFC CL quarter final and home match v Jeonbuk! They are playing some good football and their 4-2-4 is working really well. Dejan and Park CY are deadly up front and Yun Il-Lok`s revival is quite astonishing. If Hwang can find a place for Adriano in this system, we might see Jeonbuk lose for the first time this season when the top two meet this weekend.
|Latest result: Won 4-1 at Jeonnam|
Next K-League match: Sunday vs Jeonbuk
The army team is flying high and should be able to survive despite the large exodus coming in September. Their games are almost as entertaining as Jeju`s and the number of goals scored and conceded is very similar too. Cho Jin-ho is arguably the main contender for manager of the season so far and it's obvious players are enjoying their football. They aren't too solid at the back, but it's nice to see there actually is a team that doesn't dwell on it too much and concentrates on getting the best of their strength rather than trying to hide their weakness. They are unlikely to challenge for AFC CL until the end with so many regular players leaving, but no one will judge their season based on the final two or so months.
|Latest result: Lost 1-0 at Pohang|
Next K-League match: Sunday vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings
Gwangju had a tough July, but are yet to lose in August and back to back away wins at Jeju and Seongnam keep them well away from danger. Jung Jo-gook remains their best player, but they tightened up at the back and their only summer signing - DM Bonnes - has settled into the team really well and is definitely one of the reasons they conceded just two goals in their last 4 games. However, I wonder whether he will keep his place with Lee Chan-dong back from the Olympics now. Either way, this team is more than Jung`s goals and Kim Nam-il definitely gets close to the best from this modest squad! Top 6 is definitely possible.
|Latest result: Drew 0-0 vs Suwon FC|
Next K-League match: Saturday at Ulsan
The better of the East-Coast teams is level on points with Sangju at third, but only the bottom two clubs have scored less goals. Like most of the K League teams, they lack any kind of consistency and they struggle especially at home where they lost on three latest occasions. Their counter attacking style is simply much more effective on the road, but their inability to win home games prevents them from creating a bit of a gap between the rest of the “mid-table” teams. Summer signings added some quality to the squad and now it's up to Yoon Jung-hwan to work out some kind of successful “plan B” for the home games if they are to snatch an AFC CL spot in the league or through KFA Cup triumph!
|Latest result: Lost 3-2 at Sangju Sangmu|
Next K-League match: Saturday vs Gwangju
It`s really surprising how high Seongnam are considering their recent form. They definitely miss Thiago`s ability to score from nothing, but the absence of Yun Young-sun at CB is also crucial. Thiago`s replacement - Silvinho - had a dream start, scoring two goals in his first two starts, but he needs more time to settle. One good sign is Hwang Ui-jo is finding some form, but he`s often too isolated to cause more damage. Kim Hak-bum`s defensive tactics definitely didn't make the Magpies enjoyable to watch and fans are hoping for more exciting performances. The return of Kim Dong-jun from Rio will perhaps gives them more assurance at the back and they can push more men forward with the young GK`s ability to make plenty of good saves when needed.
|Latest result: Lost 1-0 vs Gwangju|
Next K-League match: Saturday at Jeju
Jeju are the third highest scoring team after 27 rounds with 49 goals, but 46 conceded tells you where the problem is. You are guaranteed to see a shootout in most of Jeju`s matches, but they have been on the losing side of it more often than not in the last two months. They're still just two points from their pre-season goal of securing an AFC CL spot, but I just can't see them doing it. Their attacking play is not as flawless as earlier in the season and the defence remains vulnerable. They really need to grind out some ugly wins if they want to challenge for AFC CL. Their latest 1-0 win away to Incheon could be a good sign of some improvement in that regard, but are they able to do that more often?
|Latest result: Won 1-0 at Incheon|
Next K-League match: Saturday vs Seongnam
The 2015 play off winners are arguably the worst team in the league, but their summer transfer window activity suggested they are definitely not giving up! They recorded a couple of wins in June before going on a losing streak in early August, but their recent 5-3 win over Jeju proved they are on the upswing again. They are just one point from the relegation play off spot and at current form of Suwon FC and Incheon, we could see them swap places as soon as next matchday! Their defence is not too solid, but Lee Chang-keun keeps them in almost every game until the last second with incredible performances between the sticks and this could prove crucial. The club definitely brought in more renowned names, but the ex-Busan man is the one standing out the most and many wonder how he could have been with Busan`s reserve team just two months ago!
— LAST MONTH: 9HIGH: 4 | LOW: 10
|Latest result: Drew 0-0 at Gwangju|
Next K-League match: Saturday vs Incheon
Pohang are probably the most frustrating team to watch this season after the Bluewings. Consistently inconsistent, somehow squeezing out a win every now and then to remain out of danger, but nowhere near ACL spots. Summer signings don't seem to add much to the squad and making top 6 before the split looks like the only reasonable target for a team that played some eye catching football last season. They go from 3-4-3 to 4-3-3 to 3-5-2 and back, but nothing seems to be working. Hwang SH`s departure alongside with some key players and Son Joon-ho`s injury has proved too difficult to cope with in 2016.
|Latest result: Won 1-0 vs Sangju Sangmu|
Next K-League match: Sunday at Jeonnam
I´m still waiting for last season's vice champs to pick up and get a few wins together, but it's just not happening. They brought in Castelen and Jonathan during the transfer window to help them in attack, but none made an instant impact and many would argue they should have tried to bring in a couple of defensive players instead. As mentioned in previous editions, they don't necessarily lack goals, but have the third worst defense. Surely, with someone better than Kim Gun-hee and Kim Jong-min up front they might outscore some of their opponents, but Jonathan failed to deliver as well. More clean sheets should be their aim rather than more goals. Until that happens, we are likely to see more Suwon Derbys than Super Matches this seasons!
HIGH: 5 | LOW: 11
|Latest result: Drew 1-1 vs Jeonnam|
Next K-League match: Sunday at Sangju Sangmu
Incheon recorded just 2 pts from their last 6 games and they are back in trouble now, sitting just one point away from automatic relegation. Their financial situation isn't great, so they failed to bring in a single player during the summer transfer window with a few low key players leaving. Their previous good run of form didn't last too long and safety is getting further and further away. Kim Do-hoon is very reluctant to move away from the 5-3-2 formation, but that might just be the only way they can improve. They are not too dangerous in attack with the only game plan being long balls to Kevin Oris, but they still leak some goals despite such a defensive formation. Going back to the 4-5-1 they used last season could help them get more men forward to support Oris who is very isolated with only Velkoski buzzing around him. If they don't improve soon, the drop to 12th is likely with Suwon FC picking up some points following a positive transfer window.
|Latest result: Lost 1-0 vs Jeju United|
Next K-League match: Saturday at Suwon FC
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!