Incheon v Gwangju | Saturday 1st August 2020, 12:00
After several seasons on struggle, it looks as though Incheon United could finally be relegated from K League 1. In fact, they’ve played every minute of their existence in the top flight of South Korean football, and besides a second place finish in 2005 they finished between 6th and 13th, and they’re currently rock bottom.
Incheon are the only winless team remain in the league, and if they’re to mount a challenge against avoiding relegation then a home encounter with Gwangju is a close to must-win as they can get.
Gwangju are only a couple of places above their weekend opponents, and with home advantage Incheon really need to make this count. Incheon are at least on a three-game unbeaten run, and whilst they were all draws they were all against teams positioned in the top-four.
Gwangju won promotion last season and they did initially begin the campaign quite positively. Although losing their first three, they would follow this up with a run of three wins and a draw, but they certainly haven’t kicked on from that. It is now over a month since they last won, which isn’t so bad when you consider Incheon haven’t won since November 2019!
The reality is that this is a bottom of the table scrap on Saturday and it is not a match which is likely to make the end of season highlights reel in my opinion. These are two of the three lowest scorers in the division and also for shots on goal. They are also in this region in relation to average amount of possession, so something really needs to give this weekend.
What I am pretty sure on is that I don’t picture many goals. Whilst Incheon really could do with the win, they’ve been so used to approach games just to avoid defeat, and switching mind-set isn’t so straightforward.
That being said, I do think that discipline can help them at times, especially in matches against fellow strugglers. The bookies don’t tend to favour either side to win this one more than the other, which is understandable, but I just think that Gwangju will see this more as a game they can’t afford to lose, and so I can’t see them taking too many risks.
Incheon, despite needing the points, won’t go gung-go either, and only once all season have they been heavily beaten at home and in the rest they’ve been more than competitive. Gwangju have failed to score in four of their last six on the road.
I want Incheon on side here, but not to the point where we’re backing them to win. After all, they haven’t won since November! Nevertheless, Incheon Double Chance and Under 3 Goals at 23/20 (Bet365) on the bet builder looks a worthwhile play knowing that goals aren’t likely to be on the agenda and Incheon are never so easily beaten at home, despite sitting bottom.
Neman v Dinamo Minsk | Saturday 1st August 2020, 18:30
We’re approaching the halfway point in the Belarusian Premier League and whilst it gave us a bit to focus on during the heat of lockdown and footballing silence, it is still carrying on strong and we have an exciting battle at the top. The top seven are only separated by eight points and it is really up for grabs. Neman and Dinamo Minsk are firmly in that mix, and they meet on Saturday evening.
Neman have never actually won the big league in Belarus, so they’re something of a surprise package sitting in third place after 18 matches. They already look well on track to beating their 4th place finish in 2013, which has been their best campaign across the previous 17 seasons, having ended as runners-up in 2002. The question is if they can keep up the pace, but they’re three points off the top with a game in hand.
Dinamo Minks are one of the bigger clubs at this level and seven times they’ve lifted the Premier League crown. The last came back in 2004 however, so they’ve been away from honours for a while, although they have managed a top four finish in the last 12 seasons running.
Considering they’re seven points off the top and have played a game less than Neman then it could be argued this is a slightly more important game for them this weekend. However, both are in good form and it promises to be an intriguing battle at Stadion Neman, which will contain supporters as has all of Belarusian football throughout the pandemic.
Early May was the last time that Neman tasted defeat, meaning they’re on a ten-match streak without losing. Eight of those finished in wins, so they’re not exactly limping their way forward despite surprising everyone with their form. Incredibly, they’ve not conceded a goal for seven successive games, and four 1-0 triumphs were included in that run. They are extremely effective and even tougher to beat,
Dinamo Minsk have lost only once in eight, and they’re now starting to show some consistency after this was initially their problem in the first month or so of the new season.
Whilst we can be impressed with Neman’s recent defensive exploits, Dinamo Minsk have only conceded one goal in their last eight, although that may appear leaky in comparison! Both have shipped only 13 league goals all season, but league leaders Soligorsk have conceded only nine!
Clearly this is a big game, but I’m still waiting for Neman to fall away and drift away into mid-table, but time is running out for that to happen. They deserve big respect for being where they are, but I do have my doubts backing them this weekend. The bookies do too as they’re not favourites, and a price of 11/5 on a home win certainly does appeal from a value perspective alone.
However, I am wary of the fact Neman are winless in four meetings this season against current top four opposition, which is where DInamo Minks are situated. Dinamo Minsk on the other hand beat Neman at home, won away in BATE, both 2-0, and also ran Soligorsk very close too. I just fear Neman, who have the third-lowest average possession in the league, will fall short against a better calibre of opponent.
Dinamo Minsk Double Chance and Under 3 Goals at 11/10 (Bet365) on the bet builder makes sense considering both are strong defensively, but the visitors to have the slight edge.
Incheon v Gwangju – Incheon Double Chance and Under 3 Goals (23/20 Bet365)
Neman v Dinamo Minsk – Dinamo Minsk Double Chance and Under 3 Goals (11/10)