K League Classic 2014 Prediction Thoughts Preview

Here is our Prediction for the upcoming 2014 K League Classic. After an overall successful 2013 season (Full Summary Here) we’re pretty excited in what it new season has to offer. There have been a number of changes both on and off the pitch for every team so it’s going to be different and hopefully better.
Firstly to make it clear, this prediction is our personal view and based on personal knowledge, recent K League news, pre-season transfers (so far), the 2013 season as well as other factors. We’ll try and include as much information as possible about the 2014 K League Classic, so you can gain a little insight even if you’re unfamiliar with South Korea’s top professional football league.

Changes / New for 2014 in the K League

So those of you unfamiliar with the recent changes in the K League Classic structure here in a basic recap:

  • Firstly the K League Classic now features 12 teams (down 2 from 2013).
  • The side finishing 12th (last) this season will be relegated to the K League Challenge.
  • The side finished 11th will play in the Relegation Playoffs against a side from the K League Challenge over 2 legs (in December)
  • This season each of the K League classic teams will play each other 3 times before splitting in half and playing each other once more ( a little different from last season).
  • Each team will play 33 games pre-split and 5 games post-split, so a total of 38 games. (19 home & 19 away).
  • The season starts at the beginning of March 2014 and concludes at the end of November.
  • Finally there will be a mid season break during the summer due to the World Cup, basically from mid May to mid July (2 months).

K League Classic 2014 Prediction

K League Classic Logo

Here is our prediction for the 2014 K League Classic season;

  1. Ulsan Hyundai

  2. Pohang Steelers

  3. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

  4. Suwon Bluewings

  5. FC Seoul

  6. Incheon United

  7. Sangju Sangmu

  8. Jeju United

  9. Busan I’Park

  10. Jeonnam Dragons

  11. Seongnam FC

  12. Gyeongnam

Firstly with the reduction once again in the number of teams in the K League Classic it’s going to be closer and more competitive than ever before. A few sides have undergone big changes, maybe for the best maybe not. Still we feel that at this point of pre-season this prediction is a pretty good estimation. Here are our very brief thoughts on each of the 12 sides:

Ulsan Hyundai – They narrowly lost out of the championship last season and also to local rivals Pohang they will be out for revenge this year. Their side is largely unchanged and we feel even with the detraction of the Champions League they are our pick for champions. (1st)

Pohang Steelers – The reigning and defending champions they will have a slight target on their backs this coming season. Like Ulsan their squad is pretty much the same and once again (at the moment) it 100% Korean. They will be firmly in the title race. (2nd)

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors – They had a solid season last year and finished with a champions league place. They might have lost their main target man Kevin Oris, but they have signed a few useful Korean players (both young and old). They also should be close to the title race this coming season. (3rd)

Suwon Bluewings – It was a pretty disappointing season for the Bluewings, with an awful Champions League campaign coupled with a less than inspiring league display. However they are never without strong support and we feel that this season they will improve on 2013. (4th)

FC Seoul – The 2012 champions and the 2013 champions league runners-up, are going to look pretty different this year. The main thing is the loss of a number of key players namely record goalscorer Dejan Damjanović. They have brought in a few name faces but it will take time to gel. We think they will be just off the title race. (5th)

Incheon United – We do admit to being a little biased towards our local side Incheon United, however last season they proved us right and apart from a poor finish to the season. They’ve brought in a few new and interesting foreign players and have kept most of their key players from last year. Although they won’t be in the title race they should be comfortably in mid table. (6th)

Sangju Sangmu – The Korean Army side and last years K League Challenge Champions make their return to the K League Classic after a year away. With the pick of the Military Service K League players, they ran away with the K League Challenge last year and should be comfortable in the K League Classic this year. The only negative is their often limited support. (7th)

Jeju United – Played out of the end of last season a huge margin clear of the relegation zone but still in the bottom half of the split. They’ve lose a few and gained a few new players in the off season, but no one who really stands out. Their away form will signal how their season will play out, but we feel about the same as last year. (8th)

Busan I’Park – Last season Busan were maybe the league overachievers finishing in an impressive 6th. Although they’ve not lost the core of their side they haven’t really added to it. They are a tough side to place as they really could finish anywhere, but we think the lower end of mid-table is a fair guess. (9th)

Jeonnam Dragons – Previously known as Chunnam Dragons (re-romanized their name), A defensively strong side that proved a few people wrong last season who had them as relegation favorites. In this pre-season they’ve signed a couple of more attack minded players and although they won’t be pushing for the title, they should be able to escape for the relegation zone. (10th)

Seongnam FC – This club has gone though more off field changes than anyone else and at one point looked destined for Ansan. However now the dust has settled they are once again a citizen team and survive to see another K League Classic Season (although we’re still not 100% sure on the new name). Sadly we feel like it might be their last (for a while at least). The funding has been reduced players are going and their replacements aren’t maybe at the same level. It’s going to be a long season. (11th)

Gyeongnam – This one might shock a few people as although Gyeongnam finished towards the bottom last season they never looked it that might trouble. Sadly they haven’t really expanded on there exciting squad and therefore it’s difficult to say they’re going to survive for a 2nd disappointing season. (12th)

We’d like to wish all 12 teams a good luck this season and with the possibility once again of teams being relegated it should be an interesting relegation battle and well as race to the title. Plus the bonus of the Winter Olympics (Russia), World Cup (Brazil), and Asian Games (Incheon, South Korea) this should be a great year of sport.

Useful Links for the 2014 K League Classic Season

Here are our guides to visiting a few K League Classic Teams (sorry some of the information maybe a little dated):

FC Seoul (2014 Fixtures Only)

Suwon Bluewings (2014 Fixtures Only)

Incheon United (2014 Fixtures Only)

Other Links:

Rokfootball.com – This is the currently the best site to find English speaking fan viewpoints from the K League Classic & Lower.

Soccerway.com – Tables, Results & Fixtures.

Trailofthelionking.com – Maybe the only blog about traveling around Korea and watching sport (mainly football).

Finally

If you have any comments, agree or disagree with our Prediction for the 2014 K League Classic please feel free to let us know. Also if you have any questions about the K League or football (soccer) in Korea in general please let us know, either via email, our Social Media Homes or by commenting below.

Tim
Modern Seoul
tim@modernseoul.org
Modern Seoul Logo 2013 m
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