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2021 K League 1 Round 23 Preview

league 2021.08.05   I   hits 5375

A full slate of top flight fixtures returns this weekend as the 2021 Hana 1Q K League 1 seasons reaches Round 23. The Match of the Round sees Incheon United, unbeaten in seven with three straight wins, take on Suwon FC - a side which has won its last four in a row. Ulsan Hyundai have been pinpointed as the Team of the Round while, after back-to- back cleansheets, FC Seoul goalkeeper Yang Han-been is the Player of the Round. 

Match of the Round

Incheon United (7th) vs Suwon FC (6th) - Sun. 8th August 20:00 KST

The match of Round 23 sees Incheon United host Suwon FC in a clash of the two most in-form sides in K League 1. The division's undisputed in-form team over the last five matches, Suwon FC, picked up a fourth win on the spin on Wednesday night after beating current champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors by one goal to nil. Brazilian striker Tardeli Reis, who recently joined the club from Thai League 1 side Samut Prakan City, bagged the game's only goal to keep Suwon in the top six for what was his first goal in K League. Suwon's unbeaten run began on 21st May and since then, no side in the division has scored more (13), nor has any other team made more shots on target (31), as well as per 90 minutes (6.2).

However, just one point and one place behind Suwon is Incheon United, a side which is also in the midst of a stellar run of form. The Durumi have won their last three in a row and with seven unbeaten. Since the current unbeaten run began on 11th May, Incheon rank fourth in the division in terms of goals (13), for shots on target as well as shots made from outside the box. Furthermore, since 11th May, Incheon have had the third best defence in K League 1 with just seven conceded. However, the Durumi's good form goes back further with just one loss in 11. Incheon picked up a 4-1 win when these two sides met for the first encounter of 2021, the second resulted in a 2-2 draw.

[READ: Incheon United vs Suwon FC Preview]

Team of the Round

Ulsan Hyundai (vs. Gangwon FC)

Still top of the table and with a little bit of breathing space after the midweek win over Daegu FC, Ulsan Hyundai this weekend take on Gangwon FC - a side which they have lost just twice to in 26 K League encounters in total. In fact, Ulsan's most recent loss to Gangwon dates back to May 2012. Ulsan's record against Gangwon over the last 10 meetings is near perfect, too, with seven wins and three draws. Hong Myung-bo's men are first in the standings but also sit top with goals scored (34, level with Jeonbuk), compared to an xG of 38.9 (1st), shots made per 90 minutes and shots dispatched from outside the 18-yard box as well as from open play.

The Horangi, though, will come up against striker Ko Mu-yeol who bagged a brace in a 3-0 win over Suwon Bluewings. Throughout his K League career, Ko Mu-yeol has scored three goals against Ulsan. The most recent was back in 2015 during the Round 26 East Coast Derby that season in a game which ended 1-1. The two others came during the 2013 campaign. 

Player of the Round

Yang Han-been, FC Seoul (vs. Gwangju FC)

Two cleansheets in a row and has played all-but one of FC Seoul's matches this season. The cleansheet against Ulsan last time out was Yang's fifth of the campaign and second in a row following Seoul's 1-0 away win over Pohang Steelers. In the last meeting with Gwangju, which eventually saw the Yellows earn a late point, Yang saved the initial penalty but the spot kick was retaken and former Bluewing Kim Jong-woo scored in the 101st minute. Yang ranks second in K League 1 for shots against with 80, only Gwangju's Yoon Bo-sang has faced more with 81. Seoul's number 21 has made the most saved in the division with 60, Gwangju's Yoon Bo-sang is second with 58. Yang Han-been is unbeaten in his last four appearances against Gwangju with one defeat in six. 

K League 1 Round 23 Fixtures

Saturday 7th August 2021

#JEOvDAE: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (1st) vs Daegu FC (2nd) - 19:00 
#ULSvGAN: Ulsan Hyundai (1st) vs Gangwon FC (2nd) - 20:00
#SSBvJEJ: Suwon Samsung Bluewings (1st) vs Jeju United (2nd) - 20:00 
#SFCvPOH: Seongnam FC (1st) vs Pohang Steelers (2nd) - 20:00 

Sunday 8th August 2021

#SEOvGWA: FC Seoul (1st) vs Gwangju FC (2nd) - 20:00 
#INCvSUW: Incheon United (1st) vs Suwon FC (2nd) - 20:00 

Where to Watch

Selected K League 1 matches can be viewed live on television in countries with overseas broadcasting rights. More details can be found here.

Alternatively, subject to local broadcasting restrictions, fans can view matches for FREE on K League TV.

Paul Neat
Managing Editor
Twitter: @NeatPaul