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Preview: K League 1 Round 4

Back from the international break, K League 1 kicks off a soon to be very busy month with Round 4 this weekend. In a round that sees both the Gyeongin and East Coast Derbies taking place, it's the two surprise front runners in Gangwon and Gyeongnam squaring off that will steal the attention. Those match ups and more in your comprehensive Round 4 preview.
(Image via gyeongnamfc.com)

Saturday 31st March 

Jeju United (7th) vs Suwon Bluewings (5th) 14:00

Somewhat buried in a tremendously busy weekend is this key match up between two ACL sides looking to shake off a rough start in league play with a win over a big team. The sides come in even on four points with a win, draw, and loss thus far and only goals scored separating the two. A stat that alone tells the tale of early season woes for two of Korea's traditional powerhouses; Suwon has just four in three games, and shockingly Jeju has only netted once after fielding one of K League's best attacks in 2017. With ACL returning midweek both sides will look to shake off any international window dust immediately and get ready for international football midweek. No better way to get motivated than seeing yourself on the scoresheet multiple times.

You can read Branko Belan's full preview and prediction here.

Pohang Steelers (3rd) vs Ulsan Hyundai (12th) 14:00

One of just three remaining unbeaten teams in 2018, Pohang will look to stay that way this weekend when they host their East Coast Derby rivals Ulsan. While it's not overly surprising that an improved Steelers side find themselves near the top of the table, it is downright shocking that Ulsan are not only bottom of the table, but one of only two teams that have yet to score a league goal in 2018. The promise and firepower the Horang-i displayed in the early matches of AFC Champions League has faded to a distant memory. The slide leaves their surprise win over defending J.League champions, Kawasaki Frontale, looking more like a fluke than a sign of the season ahead. More worryingly for the Ulsan faithful, it's the Horang-i's lone victory dating back to their FA Cup win over Busan I Park last year. On the other side of the pitch, Pohang will look to keep their flawless record against the bottom of the table in tact with perhaps yet another player finding their way onto the scoresheet to add to the six Steelers who have already netted through three rounds.

You can read Dan Croydon's full preview and prediction here.

FIFA 18 Preview

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (4th) vs Sangju Sangmu (9th) 16:00 

The defending champs remain at home after their 2-1 victory over sputtering rivals FC Seoul and host the hot and cold Sangju Sangmu. One thing that has remained consistent for the military side is last year's team goal scoring leader Joo Minkyu finding the back of the net. The 27-year-old has netted in each of the team's first three games and with the majority of Jeonbuk's backline likely tired coming off the international break and facing down ACL midweek, Joo could be going up against Jeonbuk's second choice defenders. However, if there's any team in K1 that's deep enough to handle nearly any threat, it's Jeonbuk. Even with the inevitable roster rotation that will come after losing so many players to the Korean National Team and ACL resuming play soon, Jeonbuk should still be able to field one of the strongest teams in the league by going to their bench. Resting Kim Shinwook, Lee Jaesung, Kim Minjae, and Kim Jinsu just means more minutes for the likes of Tiago, Adriano, Lopes, and young defenders manager Choi Kanghee wants to get a closer look at for their quest of multiple titles in 2018.

You can read Matthew Binns' full preview and prediction here.

Daegu FC (11th) vs Jeonnam Dragons (8th) 16:00

Since Daegu FC's return to the top flight last season nearly every match they have had with Jeonnam has had relegation consequences and while it's far too early in the season for that, they do find themselves in familiar territory fighting for mid-table. The joy of the Dragons opening day win over Suwon has started to fade and real concerns have emerged for a continually problematic backline that can't stop conceding goals. The switch from Lee Hoseung to 23-year-old Jang Daehee in net did nothing to stem the tide of goals rushing into the back of Jeonnam's net. Much like last year, the Dragons find themselves alone in last place for goals conceded with seven through three rounds. A situation Daegu is undoubtedly looking forward to with great anticipation. After fielding a promising attack last year, the citizen club has yet to get a mark on the scoresheet and desperately need to get something going to raise team morale and fight their way out of the relegation zone. Again, it's far too early in the season to well and truly be doomed by any single match, but as Gwangju FC showed last year, a rough start can be a team's undoing.

You can read Muyeol Jung's full preview and prediction here.

Sunday 1st April 

FC Seoul (10th) vs Incheon United (6th) 14:00

The first Gyeongin Derby of 2018 sees the tables dramatically turned from the usual with FC Seoul at the foot of the table looking up at an Incheon side that has yet to find an identity, but seems capable of anything. United followed up their dramatic home win over Jeonbuk with a lackluster showing at home against Daegu FC, but may find this very realistic opportunity to beat FC Seoul enough motivation to secure all three points. Unfortunately for Incheon, 26-year-old Montenegrin striker Stefan Mugoša will be out of action in spite of scoring in an international match last weekend due to a ban he picked up last round for elbowing. However, even with his absence, FC Seoul will still be leaning heavily on their best player, goalkeeper Yang Hanbin. If the capital club is to have any chance in this one, they'll need him to be strong yet again as the attack continues to fall flat. A meaningless Kim Seongjun consolation goal in the 93rd minute of their loss at Jeonju and a rather fortuitous Park Chuyoung header in their home loss to Gangwon remain the only goals Seoul have scored this season. Leaving the same question to be asked of this team yet again, who is going to score goals for them? Whoever manager Hwang Sunhong puts out there Sunday afternoon, they have a golden opportunity to not only take a starting spot by the reins, but also finally give the home faithful something to cheer about this year.

You can read Paul Neat's full preview and prediction here.

Gangwon FC (2nd) vs Gyeongnam FC (1st) 16:00

Our K League 1 Match of the Week, this first vs second affair sees two of K1's more surprising and easily most exciting teams square off in Chuncheon. Both enter the match perfect with nine points from three matches and firing on all cylinders with Brazilians Marcão and Diego Maurício leading the scoring for Gyeongnam and Gangwon respectively. The question of Marcão and his Gyeongnam teammates being able to transition their high powered attack from K2 to K1 has been a non issue in the early goings with the big man leading the way in the league with four goals in just two games after serving a red card suspension in Round 2. He'll be back on the field and looking to capitalize on a Gangwon side that held just three clean sheets all of the last year. This may be the week Australian defender Dylan McGowan steps onto center stage in an attempt to shut down K League's top scorer. Few have been able to match Marcão for physicality and pace, but as McGowan has proven over the course of his career, he isn't afraid to mix it up to protect his goalkeeper.

You can read Steve Price and James Edrupt's full preview and prediction here.

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