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K League's top 2 teams set for 3rd clash of season

All News 11:02 August 05, 2022

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- So they meet again.

Ulsan Hyundai FC and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, the two best teams in South Korean football so far this year, will square off for the third time this season on Sunday. The kickoff is 7 p.m. at Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Jeonbuk's home located some 200 kilometers south of Seoul. They split the first two meetings.

Ulsan lead the K League 1 with 51 points, and Jeonbuk trail them by six points, with 14 matches left this season.

Both teams had rather uninspiring matches earlier in the week. Ulsan settled for a 1-1 draw with FC Seoul on Tuesday, and Jeonbuk lost to Gangwon FC 2-1 the following day.

Um Won-sang of Ulsan Hyundai FC (C) and Lee Sang-min of FC Seoul battle for the ball during their clubs' K League 1 match at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, 310 kilometers south of Seoul, on Aug. 2, 2022. (Yonhap)

Ulsan are trying to win their first title since 2005, while Jeonbuk are going for their sixth straight championship. Each of Jeonbuk's past three titles came at the expense of Ulsan, which own the record for most runner-up finishes in K League history with 10.

A victory will give Ulsan a nine-point cushion, their biggest lead over Jeonbuk since June. But if Jeonbuk prevail, the gap will be cut to just three points, once again throwing the title race into chaos.

Ulsan will look to get their new Hungarian forward Martin Adam into the flow of things. He made his K League debut against FC Seoul and played the first half.

Gustavo of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (R) tries to fend off Rim Chang-woo of Gangwon FC during their clubs' K League 1 match at Songam Sports Town in Chuncheon, some 75 kilometers east of Seoul, on Aug. 3, 2022, in this photo provided by the Korea Professional Football League. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Jeonbuk recently had a fiasco with forward Tornike Okriashvili, withdrawing their contract offer to the Georgian player after he failed a physical. Jeonbuk will be stuck with just two foreign players for the rest of the season, Gustavo and Mo Barrow. Those two are the top two scorers for Jeonbuk, with seven and four goals, respectively, and Jeonbuk will need more contribution from their homegrown players. Attacking midfielder Han Kyo-won has been limited to just eight matches due to injury, and has just one goal so far. Moon Seon-min's stock has also fallen of late, and the former national team midfielder has scored only once in 16 matches this year.

Park Soo-il of Seongnam FC (L) and Jin Seong-uk of Jeju United battle for the ball during their clubs' K League 1 match at Jeju World Cup Stadium in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, on Aug. 2, 2022, in this photo provided by the Korea Professional Football League. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

On Saturday, Pohang Steelers, in third place with 40 points, will try to keep the pressure on the top two dogs when they host Gangwon FC.

Suwon FC and Suwon Samsung Bluewings will have their third intra city derby of 2022 on Saturday. Suwon FC are trying to hold on to sixth place at 30 points, with Gangwon FC and FC Seoul also sitting at 30 points but trailing Suwon FC in goals. Suwon Samsung Bluewings are in 10th place at 24 points.

The one other match on Sunday will pit FC Seoul against a reeling Jeju United.

Though Jeju have managed to stay in fourth place with 34 points, they have recorded just one victory in their past eight matches, with two draws and five losses.

That lone loss came against the worst team in the league, Seongnam FC, on July 8, and Seongnam beat Jeju 2-1 Tuesday. In a surprise shakeup, Jeju stripped Kim Oh-kyu of captaincy and handed the armband to fellow defender Chung Woon.

Shin Se-gye of Suwon FC (L) and Hong Si-hoo of Incheon United battle for the ball during their clubs' K League 1 match at Incheon Football Stadium in Incheon, 30 kilometers west of Seoul, on Aug. 3, 2022. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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