Port Face Resurgent Rivals in Wake of Title Slip-up

With Port FC’s title aspirations now effectively dashed, the side will be looking for a good result against arch-rivals Muangthong United in order to fend off their second-place spot from Buriram’s assault. Elsewhere, two of the league’s in-form sides meet while Police Tero host Sukhothai in a game which could be crucial in the battle to avoid the drop.

Muangthong United are developing something of a mental block when it comes to facing arch-rivals Port FC. Despite being historically dominant in the fixture, the Klongtoei side have gotten the better of them in recent seasons, managing to come out on top in five of the last seven league meetings. In fact, Muangthong have not beaten Port in their own backyard since 2015.

However, things have been far from perfect at the PAT Stadium over the recent weeks. Head coach Sarawut Treephan stopped just short of conceding the title after their defeat to BG Pathum United last week, and the side followed the disappointing result with another uninspiring performance in their goalless draw against Trat FC. In previous years, a victory against Muangthong could be just the thing to get the side back on track, but the animosity which characterized Port’s visits to Nonthaburi in the past has been dulled significantly by the fact that many members of the Lions’ squad were once Muangthong fan-favorites themselves.

Now, it is the Klongtoei club that come as the favourites and title contenders, while Mario Gjurovksi’s group of young, plucky Muangthong underdogs are the ones hoping for a statement win to continue their recent run of relative over-performance. The 3-1 away win at Ratchaburi will be a big confidence boost, and key players Weerathep Pomphan and Wattanakorn Sawatlakhon will be fresh having watched that game on the sidelines. Despite the role reversal, the desperate need for points on both sides will ensure that this fixture remains as feisty as ever.

Ascendant Samut Prakan Face Unbeaten Nakhon Ratchasima

Two of the league’s in-form sides go head to head on Wednesday evening, as Nakhon Ratchasima host Samut Prakan City at the 80th Birthday Stadium. The home side are on an eight game unbeaten run, with their two most recent draws following an incredible six game winning streak with five consecutive clean sheets. The side look organised, disciplined and efficient, capped off by the attacking talent of Dennis Murillo and Gidi Kanuk who have been difference makers for the side.

Meanwhile, despite their impressive rise to fourth, Samut Prakan City’s squad is running thin. Head coach Masatada Ishii declined to offer deadlines for the return of key players Aris Zarifovic, Daniel Toti Garcia and Chaiyawat Srinawong. The Japanese boss handled the absence of the key central defender expertly on Sunday against Prachuap, employing a makeshift 3-5-2 in possession. However, coping with the threat of Murillo and Kanuk could be a a true test of what the side are capable of.

Thankfully for the Sea Fang, they have an ace of their own in the form of league top scorer Barros Tardeli, who comes into the game on the back of two consecutive hat-tricks and nine goals in his last eleven games. With the impressive form and immense firepower of both sides, this is a tough game to call.

Gama Hopes to Continue Run Against Former Club

Buriram United look like a revived side under head coach Alexandre Gama. The Brazilian tactician has imposed his habit of grinding out results on the side, which will be especially important with the extremely congested fixture list for the home stretch of the season. The Thunder Castle are now eyeing Port’s second place spot, as the side have undergone something of a collapse in form during the most recent weeks.

Their opponents this Wednesday, Chiangrai United, appear to be struggling to get into second gear. Their 3-2 win over Rayong FC at the weekend was their first in four, and even that was made far tougher than it should have been. While the side have shown flashes of excellent attacking play, especially from Siwakorn Tiatrakul and Chaiyawat Buran since the restart, the confidence and boisterousness which propelled them to the 2019 Thai League title seems to be missing.

The hosts come into the game as favourites, but the size of their injury list could be a confounding factor as well. Digao is yet to return from the injury he sustained on his debut against Port FC in the FA Cup while Samuel Rosa has missed the last two games. Buriram only named five substitutes on their bench last time out, and will be eagerly anticipating the return of their new foreign recruits.

No Margin for Error as Tero Face Sukhothai

Both Police Tero and Sukhothai FC looked like contenders for top-half finishes earlier in the season, but poor runs since have left them looking nervously over their shoulder at the prospect of relegation. The former would likely already be in the drop zone if it were not for shock wins over Port and Samut Prakan City, but they have since been humbled by Ratchaburi and Chonburi in their last two games. Meanwhile, the Fire Bats looked to have turned a corner when they ended a five-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over Prachuap, but a 4-2 loss against Trat FC has them worried once again.

Korat’s winning run has significantly shuffled the deck at the bottom of the table, and Suphanburi are now the occupants of that dreaded 14th place spot. They face a fairly winnable game against Trat FC, even accounting for the White Elephants’ newfound capacity for springing surprises, meaning that both the Fire Bats and Fire Dragons will be desperate for all three points.

gianchansrichawla

Thai League fan and writer. Editor at Football Tribe Asia. University student.

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