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2024 Hana Bank K League 1 Round 7 Preview

league 2024.04.11   I   hits 202

In Round 7 of the 2024 Hana Bank K League 1 season, each fixture comes with the potential to change the way the table currently looks. The marquee match will see FC Seoul host Pohang Steelers, with Kim Gi-dong facing off against his former club for the first time, while Ulsan HD will look to keep building momentum when clashing with an improved Gangwon FC. Elsewhere, Jeonbuk are out for their first win of the season against an out-of-form Gwangju FC, Incheon United hope to bounce back against Daegu FC, in-form Jeju United test themselves against second-place Gimcheon Sangmu, and both Suwon FC and Daejeon Hana Citizen will hope they can find their feet when pitted against each other.

Match of the Round
FC Seoul (6th) vs. Pohang Steelers (1st) - Sat. 13th April, 14:00

Hoping to extend their five-match unbeaten run, FC Seoul host current league leaders Pohang Steelers this Saturday. The capital city side are still settling into life under former Pohang boss Kim Gi-dong, having won twice and drawn three times in recent weeks, but will recognise their improvements, and know they are becoming a more competitive outfit as they seek to finish in a Final A position for the first time since 2019. Currently, although Seoul rank 10th in the division for xG (6.8) and ninth for touches in the opposition box (103), they do have the second-lowest xGA total (5.8) and highest number of clean sheets (3), showing some solid foundations being set.

Pohang Steelers, meanwhile, are enjoying life under Park Tae-ha. Winning four of their last five games, the Steelers are deservedly top of the table, and further showed away to Daejeon their knack for important late goals (four of their nine goals this season have been scored in injury time, which accounts for six points gained). So far this season, Pohang rank first for accurate long balls per 90 (32), second for big chances created (15), and have conceded the lowest xGA total (4.4), statistics which point to an increasingly well proportioned side that will continue to be a threat in the upper-echelon of the league table throughout the year.

Recently, this fixture has slightly favoured FC Seoul, although last season all three meetings ended in score draws. Nevertheless, the capital city side haven’t lost in this fixture since 2021, a run of nine matches (four wins, five draws).

Team of the Round
Ulsan HD (vs. Gangwon FC, Sat. 13th April, 16:30)

Returning to winning ways last time out, Ulsan HD were comfortable in their 3-0 victory over Suwon FC and looked more like the reigning champions that they are. In that game, the Horangi created two big chances, as well as an xG of 1.58 from 13 shots, all while controlling the flow of the game with 67% possession and 686 accurate passes (398 of which came in the opposition half). More performances of that ilk are likely to pay dividends for Ulsan, who despite their three-game winless run before last weekend, are only two points behind first-place Pohang Steelers.

Up next for Ulsan is an in-form Gangwon FC. The Bears have won their last two games, scoring six times in the process, and as a result, they now sit in fifth. Bolstered by having the league’s current top goalscorer - Lee Sang-heon has scored seven in six appearances - Gangwon are looking a far better attacking unit than they did last year too, and have created 11 big chances from an overall xG total of 8.3. And, while Ulsan are usually comfortable in this fixture, the Horangi lost for the first time in 11 years in the last meeting between the two teams, meaning their run of 26 undefeated matches (22 wins, four draws) against Gangwon has now come to an end.

Player of the Round
Jeong Chi-in, Gimcheon Sangmu (vs. Jeju United, Sat. 13th April, 16:30)

With two goals against Gwangju, it was Jeong Chi-in who helped Gimcheon come back from 1-0 down to claim all three points and maintain their second-place spot. The 26-year-old attacker had a bright game, taking 10 touches in the opposition box, winning four duels, and scoring from both of his shots (one of which was a penalty), in addition to completing two successful dribbles, and one pass into the final third. Now he is off the mark for the military side in K League 1 action, Jeong Chi-in will hope he can continue impacting games, as manager Chung Jung-yong looks to land his team in the top half.

This weekend’s challenge for Gimcheon is Jeju United. The Islanders are in impressive form, having won their last two games without conceding, and as such will start to believe they can continue pushing for a Final A position come the regular season’s end. Currently, Jeju are efficient in attack, creating the second-fewest big chances in the division (7), but scoring seven times from their xG of 7.6. That, and the Islanders have shown some defensive solidarity, making (per 90) 11.8 successful tackles, 30.2 clearances, and 8.2 interceptions. The last time these teams met, in 2022, there were two Jeju United victories either side of a 4-0 Gimcheon triumph.

Elsewhere in K League 1 Round 7

When Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors host Gwangju FC, they’ll do so hoping they can finally secure their first win of 2024. The Green Warriors did show some glimpses of quality in their 3-2 home defeat against Gangwon, with a non-penalty xG of 1.09, 203 passes in the opposition half, and 26 touches in the opposition box, but will rue defensive shakiness, and perhaps a lack of confidence. Gwangju, meanwhile, have lost four consecutive matches, and although their tactical foundations remain strong, need to urgently find a win to avoid getting stuck in a rut. Last year, Jeonbuk won four out of their five clashes against the Griffins, their only loss a 2-0 away defeat in Round 19.

Winless in five games, Suwon FC will be looking to get back on track when they face Daejeon Hana Citizen. Kim Eun-jung’s men couldn’t threaten Ulsan last time out in a 3-0 defeat and will want to rectify the fact they have conceded eight goals in their last three games, whilst only scoring twice (generally, Suwon are averaging 0.8 goals per game, compared to 1.7 goals conceded). Additionally, Suwon have missed six of their nine big chances created. As for Daejeon, they’ve yet to find their feet in 2024. In their 2-1 loss against Pohang, the Purples only managed two shots, five touches in the opposition box, and although their defensive metrics were solid (42 duels won, 28 clearances, 12 tackles won), it was a far-from-ideal way to follow up on a comfortable 2-0 win against reigning champions Ulsan. Last year, Suwon won twice in this fixture, Daejeon once, and the most recent meeting finished in a 1-1 draw.

With a 2-2-2 record, Incheon United have been steady so far in 2024 and will seek to show that against Daegu FC this weekend. Stats-wise, the Durumi average (per 90), 2.8 big chances created, 13.2 shots on goal, 17.7 tackles won, 54.7 recoveries, and 1.3 goals (compared to 1.2 against). On the other hand, Daegu will be wanting to prove they are capable of more than they have displayed thus far in 2024, and build on their first clean sheet of the season following a 0-0 draw with FC Seoul last weekend. Negatively, though, the Sky Blues average the lowest amount of accurate passes per 90 in the division, in addition to the lowest amount of big chances created (5), though they do win possession in the final third an average of five times per game. Last year, there were two draws and one win for each team in this fixture, with the last meeting a 2-1 victory for Daegu on the final day.

K League 1 Table

K League 1 Round 7 Fixtures

Saturday 13th April

#JEOvGWA: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (12th) vs. Gwangju FC (8th) - 14:00 [ENG]
#SEOvPOH: FC Seoul (6th) vs. Pohang Steelers (1st) - 14:00
#ULSvGAN: Ulsan HD FC (3rd) vs. Gangwon FC (5th) - 16:30 [ENG]
#GIMvJEJ: Gimcheon Sangmu (2nd) vs. Jeju United (4th) - 16:30

Sunday 14th April

#SUWvDHFC: Suwon FC (9th) vs. Daejeon Hana Citizen (10th) - 14:00 [ENG]
#INCvDAE: Incheon United (7th) vs. Daegu FC (11th) - 16:30

Where to Watch

Follow all the action LIVE, for FREE, and in HD on TV.KLeague.com.