South Korea's K-League begins new 2020 season, US online sportsbooks in New Jersey, Colorado, Indiana have already set odds on the games and have prepared prop betting markets. Here is our K-League betting guide as well as predictions on outsiders and favorites.
There are 12 teams in the Korean football league. Usually, they play each other three times and then split into two groups of six – Championship group and relegation group – who then play each other once more.
It has already been agreed that there will be 27 games this season. With teams playing each other twice and then entering the split groups. But if there are coronavirus issues going forward, then as long as the first 22 games are played, then the season will be regarded as complete.
#StayStrong and Enjoy #Kleague Opening Match Worldwide LIVE on Twitter! #K리그 개막전 전세계 트위터 생중계!— K League (@kleague) May 6, 2020
⚽ Jeonbuk Hyundai vs Suwon Samsung
🏟 Jeonju World Cup Stadium
⏱ May 8th, 7PM KST
📺 @kleague https://t.co/L4g3xH326G
The K League Title Challengers & Predictions
Jeonbuk and Ulsan were the only teams that looked like winning the title in 2019 and that is likely to be the case in 2020.
1. Ulsan Horangi (2019 -2nd )
Runners-up last season, Ulsan messed up on the final day and have been busy in the transfer market. In comes Korea international goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo. The problem is that the core of the talented midfield has left in Kim Bo-kyung and Mix Diskerud. It will be hard to replace that talent.
Experienced midfielders Koh Myung-jin and Yoon Bitgaram will add passing ability to the midfield. Norwegian striker Bjorn Johnson is experienced and has scored goals in many different leagues. Ulsan have the hunger to go one better.
2. Jeonbuk Motors (2019 -1st)
The Greens have dominated the league, winning five of the past six titles. Last year was a close thing as leaders Ulsan imploded on the final day.
Jeonbuk have the winning habit and are coached by Jose mourinho’s former assistant Jose Morais.
The bad news is that Brazilian star Ricardo Lopes has gone to China for big money. His 11 goals and 7 assists will be missed. Busy winger Moon Seon-min has joined the army.
Much depends on whether new South African striker Lars Veldwijk and whether he can adapt quickly and start scoring goals. He will be helped by the return of talented midfielder Kim Bo-kyung. Oh Ban-suk adds some solidity to the back.
Pohang Steelers (2019 -4th)
The Steelers have been making progress and will be happy that striker Stanislav Iljutcenko and midfielder Aleksandar Palocevic have stayed after impressing after arriving half way through last seaso. Iljutcenko scored nine in 18. With the addition of highly-rated Australian midfielder Brandon O’Neill, Pohang look stronger. They also have an advantage over their rivals as they have no Asian Champions League to worry about. If the continental tournament goes ahead, there are going to be a lot of games in a short space of time.
Title looks hard but if everything clicks and top two struggle then Steelers can mount a challenge.
FC Seoul (2019 -3rd)
Seoul almost went down in 2018 but returned to form in 2019 and finished third though faded in the second half of the season a little. Don’t have the consistency to mount a serious title challenge though the return of former goalscoring star Adriano should add more threat in attack.
Seongnam FC (2019 -9th)
In their first season back in the top flight, Seongnam survived and never really looked like being relegated. They have lost their coach Nam Ki=il however as well as an experienced goalkeeper.
New boss Kim Nam-il has a lot of work to do. Seongnam were the league’s lowest goalscorers last season and relied on a reasonably strong defence. That has to be maintained.
Busan I’Park (2019 promoted)
Scored lots of goals in their promotion season and they were spread around the team but the defence had plenty of holes. It is much harder to score goals in the defensive minded top tier and while there have been some signings at the back, there don’t seem to be any standouts. Busan have a tough season ahead.
One thing to remember is that whatever happens army team Sangju Samgmu will be relegated. This is sure to have an effect. Also, later in the season the team will be weakened as players finish their military service and return to their clubs.
If Sangju finish 12 (last) then the team in 11th will go to a relegation playoff.