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2024 Hana Bank K League 1 Round 8 Preview

league 2024.04.18   I   hits 176

After some midweek Korean Cup action, the Hana Bank K League 1 returns this weekend. League leaders Pohang Steelers host second-place Gimcheon Sangmu, FC Seoul will hope to score their first victory against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors since 2017, and Suwon FC will seek to build on their win last weekend when facing Jeju United. Elsewhere, Gangwon FC welcome Incheon United in a mid-table clash, whilst Daegu FC and Daejeon Hana Citizen may seek to find some form against each other.

Match of the Round
FC Seoul (6th) vs. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (10th) - Sat. 20th April, 16:30

In this week’s marquee match, FC Seoul host Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Despite a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Pohang Steelers last weekend, the capital city side remain in the top half, showing glimpses of their potential under Kim Gi-dong. So far this season, Seoul average (per match), 1.1 goals conceded, 10.4 interceptions, 12.6 successful tackles, and have the lowest xGA total in K League 1 action (6.7), all of which point to solid foundations to build from. Coming into this weekend, the hosts will be buoyed by a midweek Seoul Derby victory in the Korean Cup.

As for Jeonbuk, they finally achieved their first win of 2024 on Saturday, when they defeated Gwangju 2-1. It was a performance containing plenty of promise too, with the Green Warriors creating an xG of 1.3 from 13 shots, taking 24 touches in the opposition box, and digging deep to score an injury-time winner after conceding an equaliser late on. Going forward, Jeonbuk will need to build on their attacking ability (they have created the third highest xG and big chance totals in the division, with 11.9 and 16 respectively), as well as display more of the defensive qualities that started to shine through last weekend.

In recent times, this fixture has massively favoured Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, who are unbeaten against FC Seoul since 2017 (16 wins, six draws). Last year, following a 1-1 draw in Round 11, there were two victories for the Green Warriors, including the 2-0 Round 33 win which saw Jeonbuk claim a Final A spot.

Team of the Round
Pohang Steelers (vs. Gimcheon Sangmu, Sat. 20th April - 16:30)

Riding high on the back of consecutive away wins, league leaders Pohang Steelers are becoming the team to beat in K League 1 this year. Under Park Tae-ha, things are looking well-balanced on the pitch, with the club managing an xGA total of 7.6, and an xG of 9.3. In the Steelers’ most recent victory, a 4-2 triumph away at FC Seoul, they showed a more efficiently clinical side to their game, though, scoring their four goals from an xG of 0.93 - and six overall shots - while taking only 12 touches in the opposition penalty area, compared to the opponent’s figure of 30.

Pohang’s opposition this weekend will be a sturdy test, however, and comes in the form of second-place Gimcheon Sangmu. The military side have been something of a surprise package so far this year, and with four wins in their last five matches, thoroughly deserve their current ranking. Statistics-wise, Gimcheon top the division for successful tackles per 90, with an average of 14.3, and are impressively outperforming their xG by just over three, as well as matching their xGA. The last time these teams met, there was one win apiece and one draw.

Player of the Round
Lee Jae-won, Suwon FC (vs. Jeju United, Sat. 20th April - 14:00)

Thanks to Lee Jae-won’s 51st-minute winner against Daejeon Hana Citizen, Suwon FC claimed their first victory since the opening round last Sunday. In addition to his important goal, the 27-year-old midfielder was a constant presence in the centre of the pitch, completing four of his five attempted tackles, making seven recoveries, and winning seven of 13 ground duels. More showings of this nature could pay off for Suwon, who are in search of greater consistency. As for Jeju United, Lee and Suwon's opponents this Saturday, their two-game winning run came to an end at the hands of Gimcheon, though the Islanders do remain in fourth despite that.

Elsewhere in K League 1 Round 8

After suffering a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Ulsan, Gangwon FC will be looking to show what they’re made of at home to Incheon United. In midweek, the Bears needed extra time to defeat Hwaseong in the cup, but still showed signs of the attacking qualities that have so far lifted the club into the top half. However, having the leakiest defence in the league (13 goals conceded) shows a finer equilibrium still needs to be struck should Gangwon want to continue pushing forward, away from any danger. Incheon, meanwhile, sit in seventh place following a 1-1 draw at home to Daegu, level on points with this week’s opposition. Positively for the Durumi, they have the highest xG in K League 1 (13), as well as the joint second-best defence in terms of goals conceded (8), which could point towards good fortunes ahead. Additionally, Incheon are unbeaten in their last four against Gangwon (two wins, two draws), and haven’t lost away to the Bears since March 2021.

Rounding out this week’s action, Daegu FC welcome Daejeon Hana Citizen. Neither team is in particularly good form, as both currently occupy the bottom two places in the table, though the home side have only lost once in their last five in league competition. Daejeon, on the other hand, are still yet to find their bearings, losing three out of their last four, and scoring the joint second lowest amount of goals in the division (six) from the lowest per 90 average of shots on target (2.9). For comparison, at this stage last season, the Purples had already scored 16 times. Across 2023, there were two narrow Daegu wins in this fixture before Daejeon came out on top by the same 1-0 margin in Round 24.

K League 1 Table

K League 1 Round 8 Fixtures

Saturday 20th April

#SUWvJEJ: Suwon FC (8th) vs. Jeju United (4th) - 14:00 [ENG]
#POHvGIM: Pohang Steelers (1st) vs. Gimcheon Sangmu (2nd) - 16:30
#SEOvJEO: FC Seoul (6th) vs. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (10th) - 16:30 [ENG]

Sunday 21st April

#GANvINC: Gangwon FC (5th) vs. Incheon United (7th) - 14:00
#DAEvDHFC: Daegu FC (11th) vs. Daejeon Hana Citizen (12th) - 16:30 [ENG]

Ulsan HD vs. Gwangju FC has been postponed until Wednesday 15th May

Where to Watch

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