[Recent News][6]

K League 1
K League 2
FC Seoul
Korean National Football Team
Seoul E-Land
FA Cup
K-League Classic
Pohang Steelers
K League Challenge
Suwon Bluewings
Seongnam FC
Bucheon 1995
Suwon FC
Daejeon Citizen
Football Manager
From The Stands
K League Classic
Busan IPark
World Cup
Korean national team
Elimination Game
Asian Cup
KNT Women
Chungbuk Cheongju
K League All Star Game
Russia 2018
East Asia Cup
Qatar 2022
Power Rankings
Away Days
Club World Cup
Busan Transport
Inter Korea
North Korea
Ulsan Citizen
Yangpyeong FC
Asian Games
Chiangrai United
Cho Hyun-woo
Final A
Final B
Final Round
Goyang Citizen
Mokpo City
National League
Russia 2020
Winners Circle

2019 K League 1 Midseason Grades

With the first true title race in several years and a tightly contested relegation battle, K League 1 has been entertaining all season long. Our writers from across the country weigh in on all 12 teams and hand out grades just past the midway point of the 2019 season. 

Incheon United: F

Poor defensively and poor attacking. Only three wins all season, bottom of the league and selling top talent. The only way is up for Incheon at the half way point of the season. From the five games which Incheon have drawn this season, three have ended 0-0. The other two were 1-1 meaning that the Durumi have found it difficult to either put teams to bed or find a way through, something which wasn't too much of an issue last year.

- Tim Barnes

Gyeongnam FC: D

I am giving D just because Gyeongnam FC's situation is better than Incheon United. If Gyeongnam were the bottom of the league table, I would have given F to them.
For now, Gyeongnam FC has been unlucky. Team's international players, Kunimoto, Negueba, Luc have been missed so many matches due to injuries, and Jordon Mutch has left the team. Also, the depth of the squad is too thin. Gyeongnam FC didn't have enough players to play the league, FA Cup and AFC at the same time, and everything seems to have been twisted as a result of physical problems. Through the transfer, Gyeongnam FC must sign at least 3 players, especially defenders, to rebound in the second half of the season.

- Chris Park

Jeju United: D

Jeju United entered the 2019 season with a lot to look forward to following the signings of several new players in the winter transfer window the likes of Elias Aguilar from Incheon United, Yun Il-lok on loan from Yokohama F. Marinos in the J. League, and Jung Woo-jae from Daegu FC. After a nine match winless streak forced Cho Sung-hwan out the door, his replacement Choi Yun-kyum has not done much better, with the club's chances of staying in the top flight next season thinning from one week to the next.

This is a team in crisis mode at the moment, and there is a good possibility that if things go completely south, not only will they be playing in a lower division next season, but the complexion and makeup of the squad will be unrecognizable next year.  There needs to be a sense of urgency about them - their pride has been trampled, and they may be only one knockout punch away from staying on the canvas for good.

- Branko Belan

Pohang Steelers: D

Pohang have not been consistent enough this season. There is a good core of players in the squad but they have a few pieces missing, even more so now that Kim Seungdae has joined Jeonbuk. Up until round 21, only Sangju, Seongnam and Incheon had few goals scored than Pohang, highlighting their lack of fire power. Last year's top goal-scorer was Kim Seungdae with eight, Lee Seokhyun got five and he joined midway through the season.  In 2017 Yang Donghyun got 19 and Lulinha got 17 goals whereas in 2019 thus far, Wanderson has six and three of those came in the same match. Recruitment has been an issue for the Steelers.

- Paul Neat

Seongnam FC: C

They’ve managed to keep their head above the relegation scrap, but that seems to have more to do with Jeju, Gyeongnam, and Incheon’s issues more than anything Seongnam are doing right. That said, the defense has been quite good. They have allowed the fourth fewest shots in the league, and are averaging the second most interceptions per match. However, they are quite susceptible in the air with a league worst 41% success on aerial duals. Given this league’s propensity to hoof it into the middle, it’s no surprise they’re unable to completely keep the ball out of the back of the net.

However, attack is the real issue here. Only Incheon has scored less than the Magpies 17 goals, and Seongnam rank second to last in shots per match with just 9.9 and roughly 34% of those finding the target. Only forcing a keeper to make three saves per match has doomed this club so far.  They are also averaging the third fewest touches in the box in K1, which shows they’re also not setting things up well. The defense has done well so far, but they will eventually collapse under the pressure if things don’t improve.

- Ryan Walters

Sangju Sangmu: C 

Sangju Sangmu have had a decent if not spectacular first half to the season. Many people had tipped them for relegation but they’ve battled well and have been sitting around 5th place for much of the season. They haven't been the most consistent of teams but they've bagged enough victories to be sitting just below the top half of the table right now.

One thing they’ve improved this year has been their game management. They’ve conceded 8 more goals than they had done at this stage last year but that hasn’t affected their position in the table. That has been because they’ve only dropped points from a winning position on 3 occasions this year and all 3 of those occasions resulted in only draws. They are difficult to break down once they get ahead in a game and have become a really resilient team this year.

In attack, Park Yong-ji is having one of the best seasons of his career and in midfield Kim Min-woo and Yoon Bit-garam run the show. They don’t make it to the top of many positive stats tables but that perhaps sums them up. They have become a mid-table team that has a balanced attack and defence that teams find difficult to expose when they are at their best.

Until that humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of Gangwon two weeks ago they had the best defensive record of those teams out of the top 4 but that defeat has skewed those stats a little. They are still in the hunt for the FA Cup and can feel proud of their efforts so far. However, a shadow hangs over the club knowing that some of their super stars will be leaving in the Autumn exodus and Sangju need to get enough points on the board before then to ensure that they don't get dragged into the relegation battle.

- Scott Whitelock

Suwon Samsung Bluewings: C

They’ve been pretty poor most of the season but some recent form has seen them rocket up the table. But, they are a full seven points and three positions off where they were at this point last year, and at that point they had a difficult schedule fighting on three fronts.

The start of the season promised that there might be a new direction for the club and that some of their promising young players would get a run in the team. That has failed to transpire though and only Jeonbuk, Gyeongnam and Ulsan have a higher average age of players used.

The club almost seem directionless under Lee Lim-saeng and the recent sale of Elvis Sarić, coupled with comments from Yeom Ki-hun in which he said he would like it if the club could keep hold of Sarić but he was just too expensive has angered the fan base somewhat. If Suwon are going to cut their cloth then they need to transition this ageing squad out and replace them with younger players sooner rather than later.

Dejan Damjanović recently said in the latest Asian Game podcast that Suwon should be looking to always finish in the top four at least and the general consensus would agree with him. There is enough quality in their squad that they could challenge Daegu for 4th position but Lee can’t quite get them there, either through poor decisions or stubbornness.

The one shining light has been Adam Taggart. The Australian has 12 goals and counting now, with six goals in his last five games. Suwon also still have the FA Cup to challenge for and if they win that then of course the season will have been a success because they will at least be back in the ACL.

- Scott Whitelock

Daegu FC: B

Daegu FC arguably have been the most sensational team in K League 1 with attractive football in a brand new football stadium named DGB Daegu Bank Park. With AFC Champions League and Korean FA Cup in, the Sky Blues went on full blast in every single game and surprisingly, made it to top four in K League along with giant clubs like Jeonbuk, Ulsan and Seoul, with fabulous counterattacking, which enabled them to stay high until June. However, following a series of injuries and accumulated fatigue to key players due to the lack of rotation and the depth in the squad in hectic fixtures, Andre’s side look lacklustre and fatigued. Throughout the summer transfer window, if the citizen club are able to figure out the way to replace the injured like Japanese midfielder Tsubasa, centre back Hong Jungwoon, and Edgar by bring in some savvy signings including their first summer signing Brazilian forward Rildo, or by improving tactical performances, they will be able to push themselves again for top four in the table.

- Jung Muyeol

FC Seoul: B

FC Seoul are in a title race for the first time since 2016 which is more than what the vast majority would have expected from them. Choi Yongsoo's men have one of the best defences in the division and have managed to keep seven cleansheets which isn't bad. Seoul have the second best attack, only Jeonbuk have scored more goals. However, Seoul have out-performed themselves based on Expected Goals and have been reliant on Pesic. The Serbian striker is injured at present and it will be a big test for the likes of Cho Youngwook and Park Dongjin to fill in in his absence. It is up for debate as to whether the capital club can keep up this title push but given the eight point gap over Gangwon in fourth, should have enough to qualify for the AFC Champions League.

- Paul Neat

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors: B

Jeonbuk are still very much in title contention and seem to be doing so without depth in the striker position. They earn a positive grade purely for this. However, their score is down on last year given the comparison to their 2018 form and also their early nose-dives out of both the AFC Champions League and FA Cup. The team are more possession based this season and are having plenty of shots, yet their conversion rates are to expectation and nothing more. Everything seems to be on autopilot for the reigning champions in the K League at present, but we are sure to see their mettle truly tested as we enter the second half of the season with an actual title-race very much on the cards.

- Matthew Binns

Ulsan Hyundai: A

For the first time since 2013 Ulsan Hyundai have put themselves in a position to mount an serious title challenge.  The club backed their manager in the off-season and have provided him with the squad depth required to succeed.  The shocking loss to Urawa Reds in the Last 16 of the ACL was the one big negative so far this campaign, but that result did not have much of an effect on the Horangi's league form. Recent fight backs away at Jeonbuk and FC Seoul show that Kim Do-hoon has managed to inject a level of belief and concentration that was lacking last year.  Now, Ulsan look like they can push Jeonbuk all the way -- which is a great thing for the K League.

- Dan Croydon

No comments:

Post a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search