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Preview: K League 1 Round 1

Round 1 of the K League 1, will kick off this week as we celebrate the first season under the division's new name. Games will take place this week on Thursday and then over the weekend on Saturday and Sunday. This season we will once again also see the use of VAR after we shall say a rocky first outing. One thing is for sure there will be plenty of talking points over the weekend. Let's just hope it is because of the football being played. 
(image via HMG Journal)

Thursday 1st March 

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Ulsan Hyundai 14:00  

As is the tradition in South Korea the K League season will start with the league winners against the FA Cup winners. This season will be no different as Ulsan Hyundai travel to face Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. With both teams having already got their season started in the Champions League they should be raring to go. My pick of the team for the away side players is Mislav Oršić, as the Croatian midfielder has already impressed in the Champions League. As for the home team the league champions have quality all over the pitch but it is worth keeping an eye on new signing Adriano after his hat-trick against Kitchee last time out.

Prediction: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-2 Ulsan Hyundai

(Read Matthew Binns and Dan Croydon's full preview here.)

Suwon Bluewings vs Jeonnam Dragons 14:00 

Suwon Bluewings kick off their new league season at home against Jeonnam Dragons who had a disappointing season last year finishing 9th and ending the league without a win in 15 games. The person to look out for hoping to change the fortunes of the Dragons is Wanderson a Brazilian left-back. With the poorest defence in the league last year they will be hoping that Wanderson will help make a difference having signed on loan from Brazilian club Atletico Goianiense. However, I feel this weekend they will not be strong enough for the Bluewings as the home side look to get a win after losing last week in the Champions League.

Prediction: Suwon Bluewings 2-0 Jeonnam Dragons

(Read Scott Whitelock and Aodan Halligan's full preview here)

Jeju United vs FC Seoul 16:00

Jeju United will host FC Seoul in one of the three Thursday afternoon games taking place this week.  After a strong season last year Jeju United will look to build on this and challenge for the title again. With Jeju United having two Champions League games under their belt this year also you would expect them to be too strong for FC Seoul. However, this could still be a tight game with both teams having a chance of coming away with three points.

Prediction: Jeju United 2-0 FC Seoul

(Read Branko Belan and Paul Neat's full preview here.)

Saturday 3rd March 

Pohang Steelers vs Daegu FC 14:00

After a seventh-place finish last season for Pohang Steelers, and now the retirement of a veteran in Hwang Ji-soo, the team will be looking to freshen things up this year. They have added a new attacking threat in Leo Gamalho from Ponte Preta in Brazil. Meanwhile, Daegu FC, who travel to the Jeju World Cup Stadium, will be excited for their first game in the K League 1 this season after staying up comfortably despite relegation fears. How this season will go for Daegu FC will be interesting to see as they lost key players from last season over the break.

This is sure to be a good early test for both clubs as they aim for a top six spot this year but I feel the home team will come away with the win.

Prediction: Pohang Steelers 1-0 Daegu FC

(You read Jung Muyeol's full preview here.)

Gangwon FC vs Incheon United 16:00     

Gangwon FC host Incheon United in the later Saturday afternoon game this weekend. Both teams had poor ends in the league last season so will be hoping to improve on this. Gangwon FC have spent well this summer, particularly the signing of Dylan McGowan. The Australian defender will be hoping that he will end their defensive worries. Meanwhile, with Incheon United, you can see another tough season ahead. With the signing of Montenegrin International Stefan Mugoša, they will be hoping to turn draws into wins after 18 draws last season.

Prediction: Gangwon FC 2-1 Incheon United

(You read Tim Barnes' full preview here.)

Sunday 4th March 

Gyeongnam vs Sangju Sangmu 14:00

The last game of the weekend will see Gyeongnam host Sangju Sangmu on Sunday afternoon. Gyeongnam will be looking forward to a season in the K League 1 after promotion last season. The league newcomers have also signed from Brazilian club Ponte Preta winger Negueba who they hope will give them an extra spark to help keep them up. The visitors will be looking to ruin the newcomer's party but, as they just stayed up via the Playoffs last year, you could see this being a tough ask against a team that will be full of confidence for the new season in the top flight.

Prediction: Gyeongnam 3-0 Sangju Sangmu

(You read James Edrupt's full preview here.)

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