Football Tribe Thailand
Since winning promotion to the first tier in 2013, Ratchaburi FC are yet to beat Chonburi FC at the Chonburi Stadium, with each of their past four visits to the seaside city ending in defeat. Sitting at 10th place, Ratchaburi are slowly finding their balance under the guidance of Marco Simone, as evidenced by them having the best goal difference (+1) of any team below them.
Last week, winger Steeven Langil and company tore Chainat Hornbill to pieces and will be hoping to replicate that performance against the side who have the worst defensive record in the Thai League (T1). So far, the Sharks has conceded a staggering 27 goals from 11 matches, of which 15 came have come at home. Luckily, they are spearheaded by T1 topscorer Lukian who has netted 11 goals from 10 outings – averaging a strike every 79 minutes – which has compensated for their woeful defense. Chonburi will surely set up to attack but should also beware of Ratchaburi on the break. Either way, neutral fans can expect to see goals from this game.
Another 6 PM kickoff sees Bangkok United entertain 4th place Samut Prakan City. It has been a stop and starts the season for the Angels, although many of their better performances have come in high stake matches. A win for Bangkok United could see them overtake Samut Prakan City’s place or even Buriram United, depending on what happens later on in the Thunder Castle. Mano Polking’s men will travel to 2nd place Chiangrai United on Wednesday before the international break, and collecting three points against the Sea Fang could offer them a much needed forward momentum.
Playmaker Sanrawat Dechmitr currently leads Bangkok United’s assist charts, having set up five goals for his teammates, and will be hugely missed this Sunday following his 8 match ban for assaulting the referee. The visitors are without any major injury to the starting XI although sadly Jakkit Wachpirom, on loan from Bangkok United, just suffered a knee injury that potentially could rule him out for the entire season.
Lately, clashes between Mano Polking and Surapong Kongthep have turned into tight tactical battles as both teams fancy possession-based football and are generally very well drilled in transitions. It is a game that could genuinely go either way.
Finally, the game of the week sees Buriram United welcome rivals Muangthong United. The Kirin’s struggled to get their engine running continues and they have now spent 6 matchdays in the relegation zone – 4 of them at the bottom of the table. Rumors linking Muangthong with Thai U23 head coach Alexandre Gama may have been denied but it is evidence of unrest within and around the club. Head coach Yoon Jong-Hwan, who was appointed just over a month ago, must aim for at least 4 points in the next 2 league game (Buriram United and Sukhothai FC, respectively) if he doesn’t want to risk getting the sack during the international break window.
When he first took the job, Yoon opted for an aggressive, high pressing approach. Unfortunately, that backfired in the away draw to PTT Rayong and the former South Korean midfielder was forced to adopt a lower defensive line, as seen during last week dull performance against Suphanburi FC.
One major concern for Muangthong supporters is whether the two fullbacks can handle their counterparts in Korrakot Wiriyaudomsiri and Narubadin Weerawatnodom. At left-back, 20 years old Patcharapol Inthanee is strong defensively but lacks the attacking instinct and drive. Meanwhile, left-back Weerawut Kayem can’t seem to last the full 90 minutes, and his replacement Sanukran Thinjom is a midfielder by trade.
Apart from home advantage, the Thunder Castle seem to be motivated following a proud AFC Champions League exit. Hajime Hosogai and Pedro Junior were well rested and have the quality to be the game changers in this colossal battle. Pedro Junior, in particular, is the man to watch tonight. The pacey striker has been on red hot form this month, getting involved with a goal every game he has played so far.
With Port FC and Chiangrai United dropping points on Saturday, a win could push Buriram United to second place – three points from the league leaders with two games in hand.