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Preview: K League Classic Round 21

The race for the K League Classic Golden Boot is hotting up with Suwon Bluewings' Johnathan (pictured above) breathing down the necks of the league's current top marksmen, namely Pohang Steelers' Yang Donghyun and Jeonnam Dragons' Jair with 11 goals to his name in 2017. Can the man dubbed "Johnanldo" score again this weekend when the Bluewings take on Pohang at home? FC Seoul's Dejan Damjanović has hit double figures for the ninth time in his K League career, can the Montenegrin ace find the net for the third game in a row when Seoul travel to Jeju? All this and more in your comprehensive guide to K League Classic Round 21

Image courtesy of Kyeonggi Newspaper online

K League Classic League Table Before Round 21 (Soccerway.com)

Saturday 15th July

Ulsan Hyundai (2nd) Vs Gwangju FC (12th) 19:00

Following the heavy defeat to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors a week previous, Ulsan Hyundai got their title bid back on track with a 3-1 away win over newly promoted Daegu FC. This weekend sees Ulsan play another relegation-threatened side Gwangju FC. Gwangju rather famously beat FC Seoul last weekend but failed to build on said win by losing at home to Sangju Sangmu and so are still propping up the K League Classic table. The win over Seoul was Gwangju's only win in their last six and away from Guus Hiddink Stadium, Gwangju are yet to win in 2017. Ulsan, therefore, will be seeing the visit of Nam Ki-il's team as an ideal opportunity to make it two wins on the spin.

Columnist Jeon Woong Park previews the game here.

Jeonnam Dragons (9th) Vs Daegu FC (11th) 19:00

Jeonnam Dragons have drawn their last four matches and so have slipped to 9th place in the K League Classic table. Likewise, Daegu FC's recent form, coupled with the upturn in results of Incheon United, has seen the North Gyeongsang side slip to second bottom. Daegu's last win came seven games ago and are yet to win on the road this campaign. Jeonnam, meanwhile, have shown that Gwangyang is not an easy place to visit for most teams. No team outside of the top four has beaten Jeonnam at 'Dragon Dungeon' since Sangju Sangmu did on the opening day of the season and so Noh Sangrae's side will be seen as slight favourites for this one.

Dragons duo Aodan Halligan and Alex Meyer, along with Daegu columnist Jung Muyeol preview the game with a writers' chat here.

Pohang Steelers (6th) Vs Suwon Bluewings (3rd) 19:00

Pohang Steelers' defeat to FC Seoul at Sangam on Wednesday night meant that the five-time K League champions have just one win in their last five and just two in their last eight. Up next for the Steelers is the visit of Suwon Bluewings. The Bluewings have soared up the table in recent weeks having lost just once in their last six, picking up four wins in the process. The Samsung-backed K League giants now sit in third place and just five points behind league leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. A win for Suwon will be seen as a must if they are to challenge for the title with both Gangwon (4th) and Ulsan (2nd) both facing favourable opponents in basement side Gwangju and fellow strugglers Incheon respectively over the weekend.

Prediction: Pohang Steelers 1-1 Suwon Bluewings

Sunday 16th July

Sangju Sangmu (8th) Vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (1st) 19:00

Just when it looked as though Jeonbuk were going to start pulling away from the chasing pack, Jeju United opened the title race up again by defeating the current Asian Champions League Champions and four-time K League Champions on Wednesday night. Up next for Jeonbuk is a trip east to North Gyeongsang Province to take on the army team Sangju Sangmu. Sangju are without a win at home since the end of April when Bulsajo, or 'Pheonix', beat Gwangju FC by one goal to nil. Jeonbuk, however, have lost their last two away from home; a 2-1 reverse at Sangam against FC Seoul before the aforementioned 2-1 defeat to Jeju United. Still, Jeonbuk will be seen as strong favourites to pick up the three points.

Our columnist Matthew Binns previews the game here.

Incheon United (10th) Vs Gangwon FC (4th)

Incheon United were able to preserve their place just outside the relegation zone despite the defeat to Suwon Bluewings in midweek. The Durumi have experience somewhat of an upturn in form and currently have just one defeat in their last five. Hoping to get back to winning ways, Lee Kihyung's side welcome the visit of high-flying Gangwon FC. Newly promoted Gangwon had lofty aspirations before the season kicked off, as their transfer record in 2017 has put testament to. The so-called 'Gangwon Galactico' have since added another Korean international to their ranks recently, midfielder Han Kookyoung, and are unbeaten in their last five outings and have just one reverse on the road in their last six.

Prediciton: Incheon United 0-2 Gangwon FC

Jeju United (5th) Vs FC Seoul (7th)

FC Seoul got back to winning ways on Wednesday with a 75th minute Dejan Damjanović strike sealing a 1-0 win over Pohang Steelers. The results means that the current K League Champions are just a point behind the top six and just a further five points behind the Asian Champions League places. Up next for Seoul is the trip to Jeju to take on a United side buoyed by a win over the league leaders. At Jeju World Cup Stadium, the orange-clad team ran out 2-1 winners against Jeonbuk to make it just one loss in five. At home Jeju have lost just twice whilst Seoul have won just twice away from home all season.

Prediction: Jeju United 3-2 FC Seoul


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