Buriram United have a big chance to make their move in the 2020-21 Thai League (T1) title race when they visit league leaders BG Pathum United on Saturday.
Bozidar Bandovic’s men sit nine points behind BG having played one game fewer and a victory in the rescheduled Matchday Five fixture would move them into striking distance of the top sides.
In this weekend’s only other match, Ratchaburi host Bangkok United in a battle of the early pacesetters, who have both come back from the six-month T1 break with a whimper.
Here is what we have to look forward to in the two rescheduled fixtures from Matchday Five.
Buriram target place at the top
Having made an indifferent start to the year with just four points from the first four matches and then seen two games postponed, perennial title contenders Buriram United have taken time to make their presence felt in 2020.
A fortuitous 1-0 win over Suphanburi on their return to action two weeks ago did little to suggest that things were set to improve, but a gritty victory at champions Chiangrai United last week showed a lot more promise.
New centre-back Renato Kelic headed in a late winner, while striker Marko Scepovic showed signs of what he could add to the firepower in the team.
Buriram face a different kind of challenge at a BG side that has won five in a row and conceded just once from open play this season.
But Saturday’s hosts showed signs of vulnerability last week. Following impressive away victories at Port FC and Bangkok United, BG laboured to a 2-1 home win over bottom side Rayong FC, requiring two Victor Cardozo penalties for the three points.
Last weekend’s matches were encouraging for Buriram and somewhat sobering for BG, setting this up as a match in which the hosts can pull further clear at the top, or the visitors can remind the rest of T1 that they will be a force again this year.
Of particular interest will be the sight of BG’s Andres Tunez going up against his former club. The centre-back spent five mostly successful years at Buriram, but he now hopes to lift another T1 title with his new club.
Fallen leaders fight to get back on track
When T1 was suspended back in March, fans were denied a top-of-the-table clash between Ratchaburi and Bangkok United – two teams sitting on 100 percent records.
They were denied it again as the match was postponed when T1 returned last month. When they meet on Saturday, it will be as 2nd Vs 5th rather than the Top Two. Both sides have disappointed since their returns to action, taking a total of five points between them from the 18 available.
The Dragons and the Bangkok Angels are renowned for their attacking strength but both have struggled badly to hit their finest form. Of Ratchaburi’s three goals since the restart, one was an added-time own goal and the other was a penalty. Meanwhile, Bangkok United haven’t hit the net in consecutive defeats to BG and Chonburi.
Bangkok United were considered title contenders from the beginning of the year, while Ratchaburi’s early form marked them out as a team to watch. Now, however, both are in desperate need of a positive result to lift their fading confidence.
The match at Mitr Phol Stadium promises to be dramatic as neither side can afford to drop more points.