Bangkok United target long-awaited win over Buriram as title race heats up

Bangkok United will have to end a five-year wait if they are to beat Buriram United and leapfrog the champions on Thai League (T1) Matchday 19.

The Bangkok Angels’ last victory over Buriram came in October 2014, at the beginning of Mano Polking’s side’s rise to become one of the most formidable teams in the country.

Port FC will hope to use the midweek FA Cup win at Muang Thong United to launch a renewed bid for the title when they travel to in-form PTT Rayong, while the Kirins aim for a quick recovery from that disappointment when they host 2nd-placed Chiang Rai United on Sunday.

Here are three things to look out for on T1 Matchday 19.

  1. Bangkok United bid to seize control of their fate

Since Bangkok United’s surprise 2-0 win at home to Buriram United in 2014, the Thunder Castle have been dominant in this fixture. The reaction to this defeat was for Buriram to defeat the same opposition by an aggregate of 12-1 over three matches in 2015.

Even in a miserable year for Buriram, they still remained unbeaten against Polking’s men in 2016, winning one, drawing one and prevailing on penalties in a League Cup tie.

Buriram did the double the following year and 2018 was very similar to 2016, with the side from the northeast winning one and drawing one in T1, while progressing in a cup tie on penalties.

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Photo credit: Bangkok United

Earlier this year, Pedro Junior’s late strike earned Buriram a win at the True Stadium and it seems that Bangkok United don’t simply have to overcome 11 players but also a significant psychological barrier.

In terms of quality, there is nothing between the teams and Bangkok United arguably have the better players this season. Last year, they were clearly the better team before falling to a late sucker punch in a 2-1 defeat at the Chang Arena.

Buriram have gone three league matches without scoring, picking up just two points in that run but remain top of T1 due to the failings of the teams around them. They also have a habit of rising to the big occasions as Port FC found out to their cost last month.

Bangkok United remain in title contention despite their inconsistent form and, having edged to within two points of Buriram, victory on Sunday would be a huge boost to their confidence and perhaps instill the belief that they can be Thai champions this year.

  1. Port aim to make most of reprieve

In any other year, a run of one win in eight games would have ended a side’s title bid at this stage of the season. Things have not been normal in 2019, however, as the top five have been incapable of putting together a string of wins in recent weeks.

Based on form over the last five T1 games, Port sit bottom of the table. Over the past 10, they are eighth best. However, they are still just four points off the lead and, with Buriram and Bangkok United facing off, while the two other teams in the top five face difficult away games, Saturday’s match at PTT Rayong is a great opportunity for a renewed assault on the title.

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Photo credit: Port FC

The FA Cup victory at rivals Muang Thong on Wednesday will have lifted morale after the bitter end to last week’s draw at home to Chonburi. New striker Rolando Blackburn got off the mark to seal the 2-0 victory and if he can be more ruthless in front of goal, Port may have picked up a strong signing.

With four wins in five games, PTT are at the opposite end of the form table, edging up to sixth place following a difficult start to the season. In this year’s incredibly compressed T1 table, a win for PTT – relegation threatened just weeks ago – would take them just two points behind Port.

You get the feeling, however, that Port’s midweek victory may just have turned things around for them as we approach the business end of the season.

  1. Muang Thong under renewed pressure

Less than two weeks ago, there was a feel-good factor at Muang Thong United after a stirring 3-2 victory at home to Bangkok United. On a run of four T1 wins in five, it appeared the Kirins had put their early season woes behind them.

That optimism has been somewhat punctured in the last week, however, with two points dropped at Chiang Mai before the cup exit in midweek. Muang Thong remain just two points above the relegation zone and can ill-afford many more slips.

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Photo credit: Muang Thong United

Chiang Rai United visit the SCG Stadium on Sunday, a five-game unbeaten run putting them just a point behind leaders Buriram. A victory could put the Beetles clear at the top of the table – a huge incentive in a match against vulnerable opponents.

Muang Thong head coach Alexandre Gama knows his opponents well, having managed them in 2017 and 2018, and he will need the perfect game plan to help his side move further away from the bottom three while inflicting a significant blow to the title hopes of his former club.

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