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Pub talk: Shenhua v Shandong the big match this weekend

Luis Salmeron in action against Sydney FC

Bcheng and the Editor meet for a virtual pint and discuss this Mayday holiday weekend’s upcoming Chinese Super League fixtures. Clash of choice Shenhua v Shandong, Guoan’s away trip to Nanchang, and Bcheng’s sadness over Buster “Davi” Gonad are the topics on the agenda this week.

Shanghai Ultra ( Editor, Shanghai Shenhua fan):

Fancy your chances away to Nanchang this weekend?

BCheng (Beijing Guoan fan )
Definitely, this is our month, hoping for full points from all matches, we have a pretty easy schedule in May. The game of the week is yours though, excited for revenge?

S: Yes. I think last year, when we shipped two late goals against Shandong, it was the key game for the entire season. It was right after the world cup and at the half-way point of the season, Shandong leapfrogged us and never looked back. We were beat 2-1.

B: What kind of crowd will you get considering the holiday weekend?

S: Well, Shenhua have played all their home games on a friday night so far. I’m not sure if they are all scheduled for this time, in some ways its good, since its great to knock off work and head straight to the game. The downside of course, is that it leaves less time for drinking beforehand. But, to answer your question, there’s always a bigger crowd comes out for Shandong. Everyone knows they are the team to beat these days.

B: There’s always post match. Nothing like that first victory beer after the game.

S: Yes, indeed so. And in China, it’s not always necessary to wait until after the game – you might have read in my other match reports on I missed goals just after half time due to being outside quaffing beers

B: Can the blue boys do it tonight?

S: That’s a good question. I think Shenhua are finding their feet. I think a victory is well within our grasp. But seems to me the defence is the area of most concern.

B: Being at home is going to help, but I just can’t see them getting a victory that seems to be a common problem, we’ve got the same issue.

S: It’s gonna be tough, for sure. I think Shenhua will definitely score. Plus the crowd will be in good voice, its a holiday weekend in China as you know, and i think everyone is in a bouyant mood. We just need to tighten up at the back. So, enough about Shenhua, whats your thoughts on Guoan’s chances this weekend?

B: As I said, this (fingers crossed) is an easy month. We have Nanchang, Chengdu, Qingdao, and Liaoning.

S: You don’t thing Nanchang represent a potential banana skin?

B: Our defense is still weak, and we might be missing Joel Griffiths, but I don’t think Nanchang has enough firepower, even though we’re on the road. If we play like we did against Dalian and Jiangsu, it will be fine.

S: How are the new signings fitting in? Has anyone caught your eye so far?

B: Piao Cheng was a massive signing, I’m starting to love that kid, but that’s it. Of course there’s the sad story of Davi and Roberto has only gotten time as a substitute.

S: Ah yes, Davi, aka “Buster Gonad”. I hope that gag wasn’t lost on too many of our readers.

B: I don’t want to think about him…so frustrating

S: Lol. Very amusing from Shenhua fan’s point of view though, you have to admit!

B: It’s very funny, yes, but just pathetic…hope we finally get the 6’2″ big, hairy foreign central defender we really need in his place.

S: Ha ha. Piao Cheng – has he risen up through the ranks? Or signed from a lower league team, as Feng Renliang was for Shenhua?

B: Yeah, we picked him up from Yanbian of the China League. Piao Cheng’s showed a lot of poise, especially considering his age, our young players are stepping up nicely so far

S: It’s good to hear that the lower league teams are generating talent.

B: A tidy 3 million RMB, but worth it so far.

S: Really, that’s not an insubstantial sum.

B: He wore the number 10 for the Olympic side at the Asian Games,I believe.

S: So he’s been recognized already.

B: Any other games strike your fancy this weekend?

S: Yeah I was just about to ask you the same question. Obviously, Shenhua v Shandong is the pick of this weekend’s games. The only fixutre standing out except that one is Guangzhou v Liaoning I’d say.

B: I was just going to say that. We’ll see how real Liaoning is. It’s also the haves vs. the have nots – Guangzhou will probably pay out more in bonuses this season than Liaoning pays its entire team in salaries.

S: Yeah. A side placing emphasis on youth development, against the Cantonese financial godzilla

S: Did I not read something online about Shandong offering bonuses?I can’t remember.

B: Wouldn’t surprise me, that’s the trend these days. I can’t see Liaoning beating Guangzhou in Guangzhou, but maybe they can get out with 1 point.

S: Yeah it looks to me as if Guangzhou aren’t quite firing on all cylinders yet.

B: I kind of expected it. For their sake, I hope their management is understanding enough

S: There’s only four rounds of the Chinese Super League passed so far though. Its still too early to make too many solid observations at this point.

B: If they keep Lee Jangsoo around long enough, they will win a title
it just might not be this year

S: Yes I believe he’s an accomplished manager. I’m not sure what Guoan were thinking of when they fired him in 2009. Can you enlighten us?

B: Fatty Luo, one of their management heads kind of backed himself into a corner I still can’t understand the decision, nor can most fans, “Old Lee” is very much a beloved figure among Guoan fans

S: Yeah, I hear he’s a rather colourful character. Is that right?

B: Haha, not sure about that, but he’s a damn good manager. He has personality, not something you see amongst a lot of Chinese Super League managers. But Pacheco (beijing boss) does as well. Speaking of managers, is this the death knell for Shen Xiangfu?

S: The Changchun boss, right?

B: Yeah.

S: What’s going on up there in Dongbei?

B: They go to Shaanxi this weekend, not an easy match. I still don’t understand why they kept him around last year, they had a devastating season for a team that started out with Asian aspirations.

S: Yeah they have struggled since then. As I wrote in my season preview, its looking like their championship in 2008 was a flash in the pan.

B: Well they lost Samual Cabelllero (formerly of the Chicago Fire!) who was a huge presence for them. And maybe it really was the magic of Gao Hongbo that helped them reach those heights.

S: Yes… and Gao Hongbo has a much harder task on his hands now at the Chinese NT! Anyway. I think we’ve bored our readers enough for this week. Thanks Bcheng for this virtual pint and chat, I’m looking forward to sinking a few real ones this evening. And a Shenhua victory of course!

B: Have fun, hope everyone has a great holiday weekend.

A leading international commentator on Chinese football frequently quoted by the world's top media. Offers piercing and resolutely honest insights into the bustling crossroads where football, society, economics and politics meet in contemporary China. Based in Shanghai since 2005, observer of the Chinese game since 2000.

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