Champions Ready to be Crowned
BG Pathum United are just one more win away from being declared the 2020-21 Thai League champions, but a Sukhothai side desperate for points stands in their way.
The Rabbits have been champions-elect for a number of weeks now, and their lead has grown rapidly since the restart. They also became the league’s tied highest scorers overnight after putting six past Samut Prakan City on Sunday evening, with Diogo Luis Santo netting a hat-trick after coming on at half time.
Dusit Chalermsan’s side is clearly a team of winners – with the likes of Diogo, Andres Tunez and Sarach Yooyen chief among them in terms of previous Thai titles won – and it will be interesting to see how the side respond to knowing that there is just one final hurdle to jump.
Sukhothai will hope to be the spoilers on BG’s date with destiny, and they have plenty of reason to fight for the spoils as well. The side are just a solitary point above Suphanburi in the relegation zone, who have a game in hand over the Fire Bats. They also have arguably one of the tougher run-ins compared to their relegation rivals, with away trips to Buriram and Chiangrai on the itinerary following from this one. BG have been impeccable this season, but Surapong Kongthep’s men will be ready to pounce if the Rabbits let the occasion get the better of them.
Totchtawan’s Angels Back in Top Four Race
Totchtawan Sripan’s Bangkok United looked to have turned a corner in recent weeks. The Angels are unbeaten since the restart, collecting 18 points from the last 24 available despite a fairly difficult run of fixtures, only dropping points against the likes of Muangthong, Chiangrai and BG Pathum. Their emphatic 5-1 home win over Chonburi last Thursday showed the their renewed style and swagger, but the ‘professional’ 1-0 they managed to grind out against Sukhothai may be an even greater mark of their progress. The side are now in the hunt for a top-four finish and seem to have the squad depth to stay in it for the long haul.
Meanwhile, visitors Nakhon Ratchasima saw their dream run of nine consecutive games unbeaten come to an end over the weekend, as Buriram United scored three without reply at the 80th Birthday Stadium. The result arguably flattered Korat’s derby rivals, but could be a hit to the side’s confidence nonetheless. Their run leaves them in 9th, eight points clear of the drop zone, which represents a fair amount of breathing room in the league’s crowded bottom half.
With momentum behind the home side in this game, Bangkok United will be slight favourites, but they will need to be on top of their game defensively to mitigate against the dangers Korat possess on the counter.
Ratchaburi and Chiangrai Aim to End Barren Runs
Ratchaburi FC and Chiangrai United played out a tense and tightly fought 1-1 draw over the weekend, and it a result that leaves both well off the pace in the race for AFC Champions League qualification. The latter have only registered 3 wins in their last 10, while that number is just 2 in the same number of games for the Dragons.
Both sides will hope for a return to wining ways midweek. Ratchaburi travel to bottom side Rayong FC, who need to collect two-thirds of all of their remaining points to survive – a feat which looks close to impossible. Anything less than all three points for the Dragons will see their current run take on the complexion of a crisis.
Meanwhile, Chiangrai face a Chonburi side which will have regained some confidence after dispatching Suphanburi 4-1 at the weekend. Sasom Pobprasert finally let his side’s attacking players off the leash, and they delivered excellently despite going behind in the opening minutes. It will be intriguing to see if the coach opts for a similar front-foot approach against tougher opponents at the Singha Stadium.
Race for Second Continues to Heat Up
Port FC ended a run of five games without a win with their 3-1 victory over Rayong on Sunday, but that result didn’t come soon enough to prevent their second-place spot from being usurped by Buriram United. The two sides are now level on 44 points, and look set to battle it out for the runners-up spot behind BG Pathum. Only pride is at stake in this particular race, but neither side will want to give an inch.
Buriram will be heavy favourites to continue their winning run when they host Trat FC at the Chang Arena. The White Elephants managed an impressive 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture, which was coach Alexandre Gama’s first game back at the Thunder Castle, but the side have improved vastly since then and can now count not only on home advantage, but the return of their passionate supporters as well.
Meanwhile, Port will travel to the Sam Ao Stadium to face a Prachuap side in desperate need of points as they aim to flee the drop zone. The Killer Wasps were denied a valuable win deep into stoppage time thanks to a Ratchaburi penalty in their last home game, and played out another 1-1 draw with Police Tero on Wednesday. Unlike their hosts, Port have a depth of quality they can utilise in order to remain fresh during this tough period of fixtures, but continue to rely on the excellent Sergio Suarez, who scored twice in their victory on Sunday.