Thunder Castle welcome rematch with old rivals
It’s a fixture which needs no introduction. Sunday’s clash pits the Thai League’s two most historically successful sides against each other, in what remains one of the most hotly anticipated events in the nation’s footballing calendar.
While Buriram have dominated in terms of silverware and league finishes over the past few seasons, results suggest that this fixture is as competitive as it has ever been. Their last ten meetings have seen three Muangthong wins, four Buriram wins, and three draws. By contrast, their total record since 2013 features only six Kirin triumphs from 26 encounters.
The Thunder Castle come into this match in imperious form, winning each of their last six games in all competitions and sitting three points clear atop the Thai League. Muangthong, meanwhile, have only recently settled on their preferred system and starting lineup, but have picked up nine from their last four games after just six from their first five.
This game is also an eagerly anticipated rematch between coaches Alexandre Gama and Mario Gjurovski. The latter replaced the former at Muangthong midway through last season, radically overhauling the side’s setup and approach. They faced off against each other in their second game in charge of their respective clubs in this fixture last season, with the managerial novice coming out on top against all odds. Their two subsequent meetings, a draw and a victory for Buriram, suggest that this is a fixture which could still go either way.
Will the Kirin be able to spring another surprise and pull off a morale-boosting away win? Or will Buriram continue what is already beginning to look like a march for the title?
Ailton’s arrival to spark Chiangmai revival?
Currently rooted to the bottom of the table with just six points from nine games, Chiangmai United are in desperate need of a turnaround to give them a chance at survival. Thankfully, the side’s new coach Ailton Silva was just released from quarantine earlier this week after arriving from Brazil, and is set to take charge of his first game this weekend.
The 54-year-old tactician previously won the league with Chiangrai United in 2019, in his first season coaching outside his homeland. He subsequently returned to Brazil for personal reasons, but decided to make a comeback after hearing out the White Elephants’ offer.
His first match sees Chiangmai host defending champions BG Pathum United, who have returned to form in recent weeks with three consecutive wins. The Rabbits have been more pragmatic than spectacular in recent matches, but their run has seen them return to within touching distance of the top. Ailton will need to make an instant impact to pull off an upset in this one, as the visitors remain heavy favourites.
Ishii’s men seek first win in six
Samut Prakan City have largely avoided the headlines in recent weeks, which from their perspective could be a good thing. The Sea Fang have suffered a quiet stagnation rather than a conspicuous crisis, but their record of no wins in their last six games is actually the worst in the division. They currently occupy 9th place in the standings, but will need to turn things around soon to avoid slipping further.
Masatada Ishii’s men host Ratchaburi this weekend; a side they have struggled against, losing each of their last three encounters and shipping a combined eleven goals across those matches. Thankfully for them, the Dragons have had struggles of their own, and come into this fixture on the back of losses against Bangkok United and Buriram. The side haven’t been themselves this season, averaging just 1.1 goals per game, compared to the 1.6 they registered in both 2019 and 2020-21. Given their recent form, both teams will be eager to emerge with all three points from this encounter.
Elsewhere, Suphanburi FC aim to stem the slide in form which has seen them fall into the relegation places. Their home game against fellow strugglers Khon Kaen United this week is not only a must win, but could be a huge cause of concern should they fail to take all three points.
Port FC host Chonburi fresh off of scoring 22 goals against amateur opposition in the FA Cup in midweek, breaking that competition’s record for the largest margin of victory. Meanwhile, Police Tero host third-placed Chiangrai at the Boonyachinda Stadium. Laslty, runners-up Bangkok United saw a five-game winning streak come to an end last weekend at the hands of BG, and will welcome a Nongbua side still looking for their first league win on the road this season.