Ulsan Hyundai v Incheon Utd | Saturday 4th July 2020, 10:00
The first of three plays for your Saturday football viewing comes nice and early in the morning in South Korea. Ulsan Hyundai saw their unbeaten start to the season ended by Jeonbuk Motors last weekend, and they’ll be eager to get back on track. Incheon on the other hand are the only team in the league yet to record a victory, but can they cause a surprise?
Ulsan were going great guns until the bumped into the reigning champions last time out having earned four straight victories. They kept four clean sheets in those as well, and averaged 2.50 goals per game in the process. They’re odds-on shots to resume winning ways, and by all accounts that should be the case.
That is because Incheon have been struggling for a while now, and their inability to create and ultimately score goals is proving their downfall. Nine games in and they only have three goals to their name, but they’re only conceding 1.33 goals per game on average, so it isn’t as if they’re the whipping boys of the league.
Incheon are well below the league averages for both shots on goal and specifically shots on target, and seven straight league defeats doesn’t bode much hope for them on Saturday. They have however only lost four of the last 11 head-to-head meetings, but the reality is this is the weakest they’ve been for a while. They’re generally a middle of the road team, and one which always somehow avoids relegation, but this season could finally see them drop.
As mentioned, Incheon aren’t necessarily a disastrous team from a defensive perspective. Their game plan here will be purely to sit back and frustrate Ulsan, and for a period that should be successful in doing so. They’ve avoided been to the champions Jeonbuk this season and only lost 1-0. In fact, four of their five league away games this season finished with one goal or less, whilst all four defeats came by just a one-goal margin.
Ulsan are a team which generally ends matches strongly, and whilst they won’t necessarily take things easy to begin with, they will be coming up against a brick wall and will have to be patient. They won’t panic as they’ve scored 12 goals after 60 minutes, so Incheon are likely to be up against it towards the end.
I like Ulsan Hyundai to win and Under 3.5 Goals at 21/20 (Coral). Incheon will frustrate and aren’t likely to showcase any meaningful attacking intent themselves, but eventually they’ll come unstuck. Fingers crossed Ulsan don’t score too early and win by a cricket score, but Incheon play in a manner which opponents can have issues breaking down, at least early on. Incheon have conceded seven of their 12 goals after 60 minutes.
Dynamo Kiev v Shakhtar Donetsk | Saturday 4th July 2020, 17:30
We’ve got the Klasychne Derby in Ukraine on Saturday as Dynamo Kiev take on Shakhtar Donetsk.
For many, many seasons now both clubs have occupied the top two positions in the Ukrainian Premier League, and whilst they currently do hold those spots, it may not necessarily end that way. Shakhtar will definitely finish top as they’re confirmed champions, but Kiev have a bit of a battle to hold onto second, which would provide Champions League football.
Both Zorya and Desna and just two and three points respectively behind the second position in the standings, and including this weekend there are just four league contests remaining in the campaign.
Whilst Kiev are still one of the top sides in this division they just aren’t on the same page as Shakhtar over a season, but in a one-off match of course they can compete. Shakhtar however have now won the last three league head-to-head encounters.
Dynamo do have a Ukrainian Cup final to look forward to next week when they take on Vorskla, and they’re priced 1/5 to win that so they should at least have a trophy to their name in this campaign.
Still, they really need to hold onto this second position, and both Zorya and Desna have very winnable matches this weekend, so Kiev really need something against their big rivals. The debate is do they rest for the cup final? It could play on their hands.
Speaking of resting players, that is exactly what Shakhtar did last weekend at home to Zorya. Shakhtar went off priced around the 13/10 mark for that game, and it must literally be years since they were that big in a domestic league match, especially at home and especially against anyone other than Dynamo Kiev.
However, they rested most likely with an eye on this clash with Kiev, knowing how important it is to the fans, even if they can’t be in the stadium.
Clearly this is a way more important match for Kiev from a league table perspective, but I just think a price of 7/5 (Paddy Power) on Shakhtar winning again falls into the too good to ignore category. They rested the vast majority of their squad, including all their big hitting attackers like Moraes, Taison and Marlos, so freshness isn’t an issue.
Shakhtar’s last three games saw them draw 0-0 and then win 3-2, 1-0 and 3-2. I actually think they’ve found things a bit too easy since returning from the enforced break, so they may actually relish being involved in a real big battle against a side who can cause them problems.
Shakhtar need to play well to win this, but they always rise for this occasion, and a big top of the table clash may just bring out the best in them. Certainly they’re a better team than Kiev, who are not the force they once were when Shevchenko and Rebrov led the attack.
Ulsan Hyundai v Incheon Utd – Ulsan Hyundai to win and Under 3.5 Goals (21/20 Coral)
Dynamo Kiev v Shakhtar Donetsk – Shakhtar Donetsk (7/5 Paddy Power)