This weekend’s 21st round of the Hana OneQ K League 2023 will feature two important matches for fans to watch. The ‘East Coast Derby’ between Ulsan Hyundai and Pohang Steelers, and the ‘Legend Match’ between FC Seoul and Jeonbuk Hyundai. Aside from being a showdown between two of the most prominent rivals in the K League, this bout is even more important in terms of “flow”.
As of June 6, Ulsan is leading the K League 1 standings, while Pohang, Seoul, and Jeonbuk are in second through fourth place, meaning the East Coast Derby is a battle for first and second place, and the Legends Match is a battle for third through fourth place.
The matchup between Ulsan and Pohang at the Pohang Steel Yard on April 8 won’t change the standings if either team wins. However, in the grand scheme of things, it could mean a lot to both teams.
After cruising from the start of the season, Ulsan had a rough June. A racism controversy involving players on social media and a penalty shootout loss in the quarterfinals of the Korean Football Association (FA) Cup were just a few of the bad news.
The team got some respite with a narrow 1-0 victory over Gwangju FC in July, but the East Coast derby came right afterward. In particular, K-League 1 was unable to play its final week of matches due to Team K-League’s match against Atletico Madrid (Spain) on the 27th, so midweek matches were organized on the 11th and 12th. As a result, K-League 1 teams will have to play four games until the third week of July. A loss in the always tricky East Coast derby would be a huge blow.
Pohang is struggling to field a full squad for each match due to injuries to key players. Despite this, they’ve somehow managed to come away with three points and are chasing Ulsan’s tail. With Ulsan on 50 points and Pohang on 37, Pohang’s realistic goal is to finish second, so a win in the East Coast Derby at Anbang is a must.
The Ulsan-Pohang game has similar implications to the Jeonbuk-Seoul showdown at Jeonju World Cup Stadium on the same day. Third-place Seoul has 33 points and fourth-place Jeonbuk has 30, but Seoul has an eight-goal advantage in goal difference, so a win for Jeonbuk is unlikely to change the standings.
But for Jeonbuk, it’s a must-win. While Jeonbuk has shown signs of a resurgence in attacking football under Dan Petrescu and has jumped up the standings, the gap in the middle of the table is tight, with only two points separating them from eighth-place Daegu FC (28 points). A loss to Seoul would halt their momentum and send them back down the table.바카라
Seoul is also in need of a win against Jeonbuk to stem the tide. Seoul’s offense has been struggling lately, with Na Sang-ho out of form and Hwang Ui-jo out on loan. As a result, the early momentum that threatened Ulsan has evaporated. A win against Jeonbuk, the team with the fewest goals conceded this season, would give them the momentum to bounce back.