Muang Thong United hope their attacking duo have finally hit it off as they aim to end a poor run of results against Port FC on Thai League (T1) Matchday Eight.
Derley and William Popp finally looked the part in last week’s 2-1 victory at home to Ratchaburi and the Kirins will look to them to try and shift the balance of power in their rivalry with Port.
Buriram United will hope to perform better when they face in-form champions Chiangrai United, while Bangkok United will hope for a quick recovery after suffering their first defeat of the year last weekend.
Here are some of the key games to look out for T1 Matchday Eight.
Muang Thong pin hopes on Derley and Popp
Having seen their side draw a blank on Matchdays five and six, hopes were beginning to fade that Derley and William Popp would form a fruitful partnership in the Muang Thong attack. They hadn’t really clicked before the league was suspended and there was no sign that this was set to change in lacklustre performances against Sukhothai and Samut Prakan City.
However, the two combined well last week as Popp finally showed glimpses of the ability that excited Kirins fans when he signed for the club.
They will have to build on this when Muang Thong travel to Port FC and attempt to try and regain the upper hand in this fixture. The Kirins have won just one of their last six T1 matches against the side from Klong Toey, with Port taking the three points four times.
The home side will try and finally build some positive momentum following last week’s last-gasp victory at Trat FC.
The stakes are high for both clubs as one strives to stay in touch with the league leaders and the other aims to prove that last week’s home win over Ratchaburi was not a false dawn.
Buriram must raise their game
Buriram United emerged from an extended period of inactivity last weekend, and it showed as they got off the hook with a 1-0 win at home to Suphanburi. Having missed the first two matchdays back after the league’s suspension, Bozidar Bandovic’s side were on the ropes for much of the second half against the War Elephant.
They will have to improve significantly if they are to take their second win on the trot at a Chiangrai United side that has picked up nine points without conceding a goal.
In the same fixture last year, the Beetles stunned Buriram by thrashing them 4-0 – a result that would ultimately prove decisive as Chiangrai pipped them to the title on the head-to-head record.
No side seems to have benefited more from the six-month break than the champions, moving up to third place having previously taken just five points from the first four games.
However, Chiangrai’s four T1 victories have come against the league’s current bottom four. In their only match against a title contender, they were thumped 4-1 at Bangkok United.
Nevertheless, Chiangrai will approach this match with confidence after recent results, while it is difficult to know what to expect from a Buriram side that need time to gel and reach full match fitness.
Bangkok Angels must show their mettle
Bangkok United’s five-match winning streak was ended by a BG Pathum United side that won the midfield battle and put in another strong defensive performance.
Chonburi may not have the same quality as last weekend’s opponents, but they will be looking to emulate BG by stifling Bangkok United’s creative players and hitting them on the break.
The Sharks worked hard to shut down Police Tero’s ball playing midfielders last week and they are likely to have a similar game plan when they welcome Mano Polking’s side.
Bangkok United will need to show the spirit required for a title challenge by making a quick recovery from last week’s setback. However, an unpredictable Chonburi side could make it very difficult for them.
Samut Prakan on the rise as Jaroensak hits form
Samut Prakan City’s head coach Masatada Ishii arrived in Thailand with a big reputation, having led Kashima Antlers to the J.League title in 2016. The early signs were not promising as the Sea Fang took just one point from their opening four games before the T1 suspension.
Since their return to action, however, Ishii’s side have taken seven points from three games, while keeping clean sheets in all three matches. In last weekend’s 3-0 win at Prachuap, it was particularly encouraging to see Jaroensak Wonggorn back to his scintillating best in attack, and striker Barros Tardeli was delighted to net his first T1 goal.
Sunday’s match at home Nakhon Ratchasima looks the perfect opportunity for Samut Prakan to add another three points, with the Swatcats struggling. Last week saw Nakhon Ratchasima blow a two-goal lead at home to Sukhothai a. and the last thing they need is a trip to face a team that is growing in confidence.