Jeonbuk v Sangju Sangmu | Saturday 14th September 2019, 11:00
It has been a little while since I have jumped onto the Jeonbuk bandwagon and this weekend presents a good opportunity to do so. They unsurprisingly have again managed to find their way to the top of the K League table, although only having a one-point lead over Ulsan Hyundai suggests that there are legs in this two-way battle.
First things first, they need to grab three points over Sangju Sangmu on Saturday. Sangju sit sixth, which is classed as mid-table in this 12-team division. Their goal is to finish at least sixth, within the Championship Group, before the league separates into two.
Those who follows this article will probably remember me going big on Jeonbuk quite a few times last season. They are one of my ‘go-to’ sort of teams along with Olimpia in Paraguay, mainly because there is a good chance they will win at the weekend as they often dominate their respective leagues. As mentioned, Jeonbuk haven’t had it all their way this season, but they’ve found a level of consistency and are actually unbeaten in the league since May.
Sangju on the flip side are in mid-table because they are generally quite inconsistent. Winning 11, drawing six and losing 11 of their matches so far therefore makes that a fair statement. They therefore fall into the category of team that I wouldn’t ever really want to back, certainly not with much confidence. You just don’t know what you are going to get with them. Their last two away games for example saw them win 4-1 and then lose 5-1. That loss came to Ulsan, who sit second, so facing the league leaders this weekend could be a tough ask for them.
I do have to find a way of keeping Jeonbuk on side. Any Barnsley supporters may want to know that their former boss José Morais is actually the Jeonbuk head coach these days, and has been so since last November. They were knocked out of the AFC Champions League a few months back, so all focus is now on securing their seventh league title, the first of which arrived in 2009, and again highlights their recent dominance.
Sangju have won only one of the last 28 head-to-head meetings with Jeonbuk. A slight concern for Jeonbuk is they’ve won only one of their last six in the league at home, with four ending in draws, including to bottom side Jeju. Sangju however I don’t think will necessarily come looking to sit back, so Jeonbuk won’t necessarily have to break down eleven men behind the ball at times.
A nice price I found was Jeonbuk HT/FT at 6/5 (Bet365) and I’m happy to go with that here. Any kind of odds-against price on this team should always be considered. They’ve been leading at half-time the most in the league, alongside Ulsan, and I just think they’re due a big win at home following some frustrating draws.
Jeonbuk did beat second side Ulsan 3-0 at home recently, and they’ve got 59 goals so far, so it isn’t as if goals are drying up. Sangju regularly struggle in this fixture, and I can’t expect them to change all of a sudden.
Kobe v Yamaga | Saturday 14th September 2019, 11:00
We have ourselves a bit of a relegation battle in the J.League this weekend, and it will surprise most who don’t follow Japanese football to see Kobe involved. The reason being is that they possess players such as Andreas Iniesta, David Villa, Lukas Podolski and the recently acquired Thomas Vermaelen. They should be walking this league, right?
Well, that hasn’t been the case. Weekend opponents Yamaga are faring off much worse however, in the sense that they sit in the relegation zone with nine matches to go. Kobe are five-points better off.
It is pretty obvious for all to see exactly why Kobe are struggling and are not anywhere near competing towards the top of the standings. They concede far, far too many goals. In fact, they have the second-worst defensive record in the league.
On the flip side, they are one of only four teams in the division to have scored at least 40 goals. This therefore highlights the likelihood of them being far too open, placing a big reliance on trying to outscore opponents. They’ll be hoping they can do that versus weaker opposition on Saturday.
Yamaga don’t have any star-studded names on their roster in comparison to Kobe, although to be fair not many in the division do. Like most, they have a handful of Brazilians who have travelled over looking to many an impression, but this season not too many have managed to do so. When your top scorer has two goals, there lies the issue.
So the complete opposite to Kobe, Yamaga just don’t have goals in them. Only 15 so far, the worst in the league. They’ve conceded 29 times, which is better than three teams in the top-half of the table.
This therefore presents something of a conundrum from a betting perspective this weekend. Kobe score plenty, facing a side which doesn’t concede many. Yamaga don’t score many, facing a team that concedes plenty. Which way to go? There has only been an average of 1.8 goals in Yamaga’s J.League contests, whilst for Kobe it jumps to 3.5. There really is a big difference between these two teams, yet only four teams separate them in the table.
I think the safest call is to back Kobe in terms of goals. I am pleasantly surprised to see the price on offer in one particular market. Kobe Over 1.5 Goals is 48/50 (Royal Panda) and I am wondering why this is not much shorter. They’ve scored at least twice in seven of their 12 games at home, all against teams higher than them in the table, with the exception of one. They’re still to face three sides below them at home, but scored six, four and three in three away meetings to those sort of sides.
Yamaga actually won the earlier season meeting 2-1, which was one of only two occasions this season when scoring more than once in a league game. That again probably highlights Kobe’s defensive frailties more than anything, which is why I can’t necessarily back Kobe outright, instead just sticking to back them to score a few.
Jeonbuk v Sangju Sangmu – Jeonbuk/Jeonbuk (6/5 Bet365)
Kobe v Yamaga – Kobe to score Over 1.5 Goals (48/50 Royal Panda)