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Preview: K League 1 Round 12

Preview: K League 1 Round 12

This Children's Day, parents across the peninsula can take their little angels to view a number of fascinating matches across the K League 1. Saturday afternoon sees a full card of fixtures across the division, with Korea's top flight hosting not one, not two, but three local derbies to keep things interesting. In Suncheon, we see the battle for Jeolla Province as league leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors visit local rivals Jeonnam Dragons, whereas over on the east coast, Pohang Steelers make the trip to face bitter enemies Ulsan Hyundai. However, the late kick off looks set to grab all the headlines as Suwon Bluewings' striker Dejan makes his first return to Seoul World Cup Stadium to face his former club FC Seoul after that incredible winter transfer. All these matches previewed and more, in our guide to Round Twelve!
(Image via K League)

#INCvJEJ: Incheon United (11th) vs Jeju United (4th) 14:00

Home side Incheon United finally put an end to five successive defeats with a goalless draw against Pohang Steelers midweek. More surprising than the draw, was the fact they were held goalless. Despite their lowly position, Incheon United have now scored in all but two matches and boast one of the league's top strikers in Stefan Mugosa. The issues for Incehon this season have been mainly of the defensive variety, conceding the joint third highest number of goals with 20. They will be hoping, after holding out Pohang, that their luck may have finally turned a corner as welcome last year's runners up.

Jeju United's domestic form looked to had picked up with their participation in the AFC Champions League coming to an end. That hope though was laid to rest as they lost 5-3 on home turf in an exciting match with Gangwon FC. Similar to last season, Jeju's brightest prospect is the goalscoring talents of Magno Cruz, who picked up a hat trick in his team's defeat midweek. Despite them being his only three league goals for the season,  he still finds himself ahead of all his teammates and will be hoping Incheon's defence still has enough fragility to add to his tally.

You can read Tim Barnes' full match preview here.

#JeollaDerby: Jeonnam Dragons (10th) vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (1st) 14:00

Jeonnam Dragons welcome Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to their second home in Suncheon, a ground move made with Children's Day in mind. The hosts have somewhat arrested their poor form, having gone unbeaten in their last three, claiming points in each match from a losing position. Their eventual 2-1 victory over FC Seoul seemed to mark a turnaround for the South Jeolla outfit, finally adding points to their positive performances. Not only that, but they have also managed to put a halt to their unwanted streak of red cards, demonstrating that keeping eleven players on the pitch is more productive than playing with less. The Dragons' recent performances have certainly been encouraging and, if they can continue this progress, could be set to take an advantage of a very beleaguered Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors defence.

The reigning champions come into this match having won their last eleven games across all competitions, the last ten having all been squeezed in since March 31st. Across these eleven matches, Jeonbuk have only conceded twice, with a run of nine consecutive clean sheets coming to an end midweek after a hard fought 2-1 victory over Daegu. This run has taken it's toll on the players though, with striker Kim Shin-wook filling in midweek as more defenders picked up injuries. Jeonbuk currently have three left backs, three centre backs and a defensive midfielder all unavailable, which is of concern for both this derby, and their AFC Champions League Round of 16 match with Buriram United next week. Attackers Lopes and Adriano have also already headed out to Thailand with that midweek fixture in mind and will also not be available on Saturday.

The last time these two sides met, Jeonbuk ran out 3-0 winners in a match where the scoreline flattered the champions. Jeonnam will certainly be looking to correct this on Saturday.

You can read Ryan Walters' full preview on KLeague.com as part of our partnership with the league.

#EastCoastDerby: Ulsan Hyundai (8th) vs Pohang Steelers (6th) 14:00

The second derby of the afternoon sees rivals Ulsan Hyundai and Pohang Steelers clash on Korea's east coast. Ulsan Hyundai are currently on a run of nine matches unbeaten across all competitions, yet have also only won one of their last five. The hosts have been struggling to find goals since their striker Junior Negrão was sidelined, and their goalless draw against Suwon Bluewings, a dress rehearsal for their Champions League fixture next week, was an underwhelming affair with neither side really taking control of the match. In terms of personnel, it will be interesting to see who manager Kim Do-hoon will field given the mammoth fixture next Wednesday, but with central defender Richard Windbichler rested midweek, the centre back could return to bolster the ranks on Saturday.

Pohang also enter this match off the back of a disappointing goalless draw. The Steelers were held at home by a struggling Incheon United and concerns are growing in relation to where have their goals disappeared to. Pohang have not scored in their last four matches, picking up just two points. Despite a positive start to the campaign, the hosts have struggled after a defeat to Jeonbuk in early April, picking up just one win in seven outings. Pohang will also be out defender Kwon Wan-kyu who is set to serve the second match of his suspension.

You can read Dan Croydon's full match preview here.

#DAEvGYE: Daegu FC (12th) vs Gyeongnam FC (3rd) 14:00

Despite being rooted to the foot of the table, Daegu FC should be encouraged by the positives on display as they fought league leaders Jeonbuk right up until the final whistle, eventually losing 2-1. The hosts have had some with issues with suspensions lately, but they will be able to welcome back attacking midfielder Cesinha and striker Jung Chi-in from their disciplinary punishments and hopefully improve their forward line.

Gyeongnam FC on the other hand, are still riding high in third despite recent woes. After a dismal run, the visitors managed to collect four hard-earned points in their last two games against bottom half sides Incheon United and FC Seoul, which at the very least will put them in good stead if they do wind up playing for survival as initially projected. Gyeongnam will be without the services of left winger Negueba who is set to serve the second match of his two game suspension, which will be of annoyance to the visitors who have often relied on his mazy runs and creativity this season.

You can read James Edrupt's full match preview here.

#SANvGAN: Sangju Sangmu (7th) vs Gangwon FC (5th) 16:00

Sangju Sangmu come into this match having gone unbeaten in their last four outings, collecting eight points. On Wednesday, the military side earned a draw against an improving Jeonnam Dragons outfit, taking all the headlines with a sensational Shim Dong-woon opening goal from considerable range. Their upturn in form looks set to coincide with a summer intake of promising recruits next month, and they will be hoping they can keep this recent streak going ahead of their arrival. Despite Joo Min-kyu initially being their main threat this year, that baton has seemed to have passed to the host's midfield who finally look like they are gelling after arriving in the winter. Shim Dong-woon and Yoon Bit-garam look particularly promising and could be set to cause a headache for the visitors on Saturday.

Gangwon on the other hand, played out potentially the match of the round midweek, eventually defeating Jeju United 5-3 away from home. Gangwon came back from a losing position an incredible three times, before claiming all three points for themselves in a fascinating affair. Striker Đerić continued to reaffirm his place at the top of the league's goalscoring charts with a brace for his efforts, making it nine league goals since arriving in the winter. Sangju will have to ensure they stay solid at the back if they are going to have any hope of holding him and his teammates out.

You can read Steve Price's full match preview here.

#SuperMatch: FC Seoul (9th) vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings (2nd) 16:00

The second Super Match of the season sees Suwon Samsung Bluewings make the short trip up to Sangam to face bitter rivals FC Seoul. With the first match at the Big Bird not exactly living up to expectations, this meeting should be set to stir up some more fireworks. FC Seoul began the week by announcing the departure of manager Hwang Sun-hong, and after a goalless draw midweek in which they had several chances to score, Saturday will see caretaker manager Lee Eul-yong make his home debut with hopefully returning spectators to the stands. Will the new coach have had enough time to slap some sense into his squad though?

Suwon also enter this match off the back of a goalless draw with Ulsan Hyundai, a game in which they really should have done better after manager Seo Jung-won's eyebrow raising team selection against their supposed title race contenders Jeonbuk the Sunday prior. With his first team rested and ready, the Bluewings were disappointingly unable to break Ulsan's resolve. However, all eyes will be focused firmly on former FC Seoul man Dejan, set to make his first return to the stadium where he made his name. Can the Montenegrin forward spoil the party for Seoul fans harbouring hopes of a new dawn?

You can read Paul Neat's full match preview here.

You can also hear Paul Neat's pre-Super Match interview with Dejan Damjanović below!

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