K League Classic 2015 Prediction Preview

Here is our Prediction for the upcoming 2015 K League Classic. After an overall successful if disrupted 2014 season (Full Summary Here) we’re hopeful that this season will be an improvement or at least as good. There haven’t been a huge number of changes in comparison to previous years and therefore we’re hopefully that the improved stability of the league will prove positive on the pitch.
Firstly to make it clear, this prediction is mainly based on our personal view and on personal knowledge, but of course uses recent K League news, pre-season transfers (so far), the 2014 season as well as other factors. We’ll try and include as much information as possible about the 2015 K League Classic, so you can gain a little insight even if you’re unfamiliar with South Korea’s top professional football league.

Structure for 2015 in the K League Classic

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

  • Firstly the K League Classic now features 12 teams (same as 2014 but 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 November / December)
  • Like last season each of the K League classic teams will play each other 3 times before splitting in half and playing each other once more.
  • 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 in November.
  • Daejeon Citizen and Gwangju have been promoted from the 2014 K League Challenge, whilst Gyeongnam and Sangju Sangmu have dropped down to the 2nd tier of Korean football.
  • Finally will be no long summer break this year, which is great news for those hoping to catch some action during the summer months.

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K League Classic 2015 Prediction

Here is our prediction for the 2015 K League Classic season;

K League Classic 2015 Predicition Table

Firstly all of the sides will be competitive this year and although the difference between the top and bottom is there, it isn’t the same as the Premier League (for example). A few sides have undergone changes, some maybe for the best and some 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:

Jeonbuk Hyundai – It was an impressive 2014 for Jeonbuk as they won the league with a few weeks to spare. They’ve been able to retain key players as well as replace some of their older / weaker squad players. The return of Eninho and the signing of Eduardo being key highlights. Honestly we can’t see any reason why they can’t retain their title, or anyone who might challenge them. (1st)

Suwon Bluewings – They showed some of their form from years gone by in 2014 and just like most of the top sides in the K League Classic have keep hold of their key players. They’ve recruited 2 Brazilians Kaio (formerly Jeonbuk) and Leo (from Sion), and when you add in last seasons league top scorer Santos you got an impressive attacking line. The only issue maybe their defense and that’s why we’re not sure if they can go all the way. (2nd)

FC Seoul – 2014 proved a nearly year for FC Seoul as they failed to win any silverware and required a playoff in order to enter this years AFC Champions League. Their key players have reminded but they still seem to be looking to fill their Dejan sized gap upfront. They will be in the title hunt once again but we can’t see them winning it again. (3rd)

Pohang Steelers – The champions from 2013 failed to regain that championship form and ended the season outside of the top 3 and without a place in the Champions League. However this season they’ve signed some new foreign players (for the first time in 2 years), with former Bolton and Crystal Palace midfielder Andre Moritz being the highlight name. Pohang will certainly be in the title picture but may fall just short. (4th)

Ulsan Hyundai – They had a 2014 to forget, a mid table finish and an awful Champions League campaign. Their noteable signing of the off season has been former Asian player of the year, Uzbekistan forward Server Djeparov. The former Seongnam man will be a key figure for Ulsan this season, but sadly he’s getting on in years and won’t make a huge difference long term. Ulsan will be in the top half but that’s about it. (5th)

Jeju United – Generally good at home but poor away sums up Jeju United. They have a solid squad and a good budget considering the costs of running a side on an island. If they find form they could finish top 4 but if not bottom 4, they’re maybe the most difficult side to place. Therefore we’re sitting on the fence and putting them in the middle. (6th)

Jeonnam Dragons – They surprised everyone at the beginning of last season holding their own towards the top of the league. However the summer World Cup break hit them hard and their form disappeared, finishing the season mid table. However they’ve retained most of their squad and have brought in a new manager. Although we can’t see them in the title hunt, we also can’t see them in the relegation battle. (7th)

Seongnam FC – Most people had Seongnam FC favorites to go down last season and the doubters we almost correct. But a strong end to the season saw them escape relegation and win the FA Cup, giving them a place in this seasons AFC Champions League. They’ve recruiter well in the pre-season so far, but the increased number of games will most likely end in fatigue and a bottom half finish. (8th)

Incheon United – The city is broke and some of their most promising or influential players have been either released or sold. They have a few older more experienced players remaining but they were. They did finally sack manager Kim Bong-Gil, replacing him with inexperienced Kim Do-Hoon. The signing of former Daejeon and Jeonbuk forward Kevin Oris might at least mean some goals. Incheon won’t have a great season but should have just enough to survive. (9th)

Daejeon Citizen – They easily won the K League Challenge last 2014 and therefore promotion back into the K League Classic at the first time of asking. They have also retained the services of top goalscorer Adriano, who scored 27 goals last season. However if he can’t find form they might find it difficult in the top tier. We see Daejeon surviving but it will be close. (10th)

Busan I’Park – They finished the 2014 season strongly and saved themselves from relegation towards the end of the season. However their key winger Lim Sang-Hyub has joined Sangju Sangmu (military service) and forward Fágner (returned to Brazil), leaving them with little power in attack. We feel it will be a long season for Busan. (11th)

Gwangju – They had an almost unbelievable end to their season. Finishing 4th in the K League Challenge and then battling against all odds though the playoffs. Unfortunately they’ve not recruited many new players and seem to be still on a K League Challenge budget. We feel that they might start the season ok, but in the end will go down. (12th)

We’d like to wish all 12 teams a good luck this season and with the possibility once again of teams being relegated the bottom is as interesting as the top. Also 2015 has a limited amount of sport going on and so the focus should be on the domestic league.

Useful Links for the 2015 K League Classic Season

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

K League Classic on Soccerway.com – Tables, Results & Fixtures.

K League Official English Website

Incheon United 2015 Fixtures / Printout in English

Finally

If you have any comments, agree or disagree with our Prediction for the 2015 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
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