Buriram United host Muang Thong United in unusual circumstances on Thai League (T1) Matchday 12.
Over the past 10 years, this has generally been a clash between two of the top teams in the country, with one of them going on to become champions. On Sunday, Muang Thong kickoff in Buriram at the bottom of T1.
Leaders Port FC also have a trip to the northeast as they take on Nakhon Ratchasima on Saturday.
Here are four things to look out for on T1 Matchday 12.
- Buriram set to inflict more pain on Muang Thong
There is no love lost between Buriram and Muang Thong and the home side certainly won’t be showing any mercy as they bid to stay close to top spot. Buriram sit five points behind Port FC but with two games in hand. Another three points here would keep them in a very strong position.
The Thunder Castle will have been boosted by a positive end to a disappointing AFC Champions League campaign in midweek as they took a point at Jeonbuk Hyundai despite resting several players.
Photo credit: Muang Thong United
Meanwhile, Muang Thong have endured a week of speculation around the future of head coach Yoon Jong-hwan. There have been rumours that the South Korean will be replaced by former Buriram boss Alexandre Gama as the Kirins seek to find their way out of trouble. They have also been rocked by the news that Myanmar striker Aung Thu is set to cancel his contract with the club.
All is not well at Muang Thong and Buriram will do their best to prolong the suffering.
- Swatcats in good shape ahead of Port challenge
Nakhon Ratchasima have become a force to be reckoned with on home turf. Since a defeat to Chiang Rai Utd on Matchday 2, the Swatcats have been undefeated in five games in their own backyard and have won the last three by an aggregate score of 11-3.
Photo credit: Nakhon Ratchasima FC
This is not the side that ground out low scoring draws and wins in 2018 and Port FC will know they are in for a tough match. Sergio Suarez’s suspension hurts the visitors and the hosts will hope that the trio of Amadou Ouatarra, Leandro Assumpcao and Henry Doumbia can provide the attacking flair to hurt Port at the back.
Having dropped two points at home to Bangkok United last weekend, Port FC will not want their rivals to close the gap at the top of the league. However, the Bangkok side will need a strong performance to come away with three points.
- Bangkok United aim to reel in rivals
Seventh place is not where Bangkok United would have expected to be at this stage of the season. Two wins in eight matches is certainly not the form of champions.
However, they have gone on impressive winning runs in previous years and this Sunday would be a good time to start. The Bangkok Angels can nudge ahead of Samut Prakan City on goal difference with a victory on Sunday.
Photo credit: Bangkok United
They will, of course, have to do it without Sanrawat Dechmitr after the midfielder was hit with an eight-match ban for striking the referee in last week’s match at Port FC. The general behaviour of the Bangkok United players will be under the microscope as every week seems to see them lose their heads in frustration.
Good form and good results will help that frustration go away and perhaps Sanrawat’s punishment will encourage them to focus more on maintaining their discipline, which may ultimately have a positive impact on performance.
Samut Prakan have a suspension of their own to deal with as midfield general Peeradol Chamratsamee misses out.
- Something has to give as Trat FC host Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai United have edged into second place in T1 with a series of narrow victories that have highlighted their ruthless efficiency. They have won 16 of the last 18 points to suggest that they might just be challengers in the most open league in years.
But the Beetles will have to win games like this to ensure they don’t end the season out of the top three again. It will not be easy against a Trat side that is unbeaten in five games with a team that has gelled well despite being put together more or less from scratch at the start of the year.
Photo credit: Chiang Rai United
Up front, Lonsana Doumbouya will provide the biggest threat as usual, while veteran Bireme Diouf will offer his usual nuisance value. However, Chiang Rai have managed to overcome stiffer challenges than this and it would be no surprise to see them come away with three points.