It’s finally here, Sunday night will see the Men in Green open up their season at home against Hangzhou Greentown, pitting watermelon kit vs. watermelon kit (though Hangzhou will be in their change whites), Griffiths vs. Griffiths, and Honduran vs. Honduran, making for plenty of intrigue.
Let’s not forget, it was on a fateful day in October 2009 that Guoan defeated Hangzhou on the last day of the season to win the club’s first title and relegate Hangzhou. The Chinese Super League’s other green team ended up staying up due to the match fixing scandal and came back to haunt Guoan, pipping them by 2 points to secure the final ACL spot last season. They come into Gongti tomorrow night with their strongest side yet and looking to repeat last year’s feat of leaving the capital with 3 points.
Not to be outdone, Guoan will be ready to re-establish “Fortress Gongti” under its new “mayor” Jamie Pacheco. While they had a ho hum 1st half last weekend in Nanjing, the 2nd half was something special, as the attack flowed forward in waves, a more impressive half of soccer than anything produced under Hong Yuanshuo. It will be interesting to see if Pacheco keeps the same lineup or decides to play around with the attacking setup (Jamie, I beg you, please don’t touch the defense!).
That defense is going to have a hell of a test handling Luis Ramirez, who tends to be at the top of the Chinese Super League scoring table year after year, as well as Uruguyan new boy (and big boy) Paulo Pezzolano, who opened his account last weekend against Nanchang. Fortunately for Beijing, Hangzhou’s weakness, it’s midfield, is Beijing’s strength, if Darko Matic and Xu Liang can play the ball around and Martinez and Wang Changqing can keep burning down the wings, they should be able to give Hangzhou fits. Plus, big brother Joel Griffiths has always done well when going up against his younger bro in defense.
It’s hard to tell how strong this year’s Guoan side really is, the result of this match will be telling. Hangzhou is one of the better teams this year, a win will serve as a declaration from the capital boys and serve as yet another happy home opener.
Prediction: Beijing Guoan 2 – 1 Hangzhou Greentown