I always love that first look at a brand new schedule, going over the matches, seeing where the big games will be, how many road trips one can make, and trying to take guesses at how the season will play out. This year’s schedule is full of opportunities for away trips, no midweek away matches this year and except for Henan (go figure), all the away matches are 15:30 kickoffs, meaning even if the match is on a Sunday, fans will still be able to get back to Beijing by early Monday morning. So with that, here’s Beijing Guoan’s 2012 Schedule.
A note for the fans, once again this season, all ticket sales will be conducted online and take place 5-7 days before the match. There will be NO sales at Worker’s Stadium on the day of matches, though there will be plenty of touts/scalpers who are more than happy to sell you tickets for RMB100+. In the list below, bold denotes a derby match, italics denotes a travelable road game, and * denotes Friday night matches.
March – Could you get a much harder opening month? Throw in two Asian Champions League matches and you have one hell of an opening month featuring not one, but two major derby matches. Fuli and Hangzhou are going to be tough, but you really need three points from each of these matches, then hopefully a win and a tie in the two derby matches. If the team can end the month with 10 points, it would be a damn good month, though eight’s probably more realistic.
3/10 – 15:30 – @Guangzhou Fuli
3/16 – 19:30 – Shanghai Shenhua
*3/25 – 15:30 – @Hangzhou Greentown
-3/30 – 19:30 – Tianjin Teda
April – The next month doesn’t get any easier with an ACL home and home against FC Tokyo and the following four matches. Shenxin should be an easy three points, beyond that you have to hope the club’s away form is better and they take three points off an only slightly better Dalian side. Both Shandong and Liaoning should be solid, but you gotta win your home matches, another 10 points this month and Guoan’s right where they want to be.
4/8 – 15:30 – @Dalian Shide
*4/13 – 19:30 – Shandong Luneng
4/22 – 15:30 – Liaoning Whowin
*4/27 – 19:30 – Shanghai Shenxin
May – Another month and the final pair of ACL matches, including that hellish trip to Australia just days before the team faces off against Changchun (why couldn’t this match be played on a Monday?!?). The nice thing is, this should be one of the side’s easiest months. A lot will depend on away form, but 10-12 points isn’t unreasonable.
5/6 – 19:30 – @Henan Construction
*5/11 – 19:30 – Guizhou Renhe
5/20 – 15:30 – @Changchun Yatai
*5/25 – 19:30 – Dalian Aerbin
June – Only two matches this month as the team breaks for the summer and a lot like the club’s May, this month should be pretty easy, two home games against good, but beatable, teams. Guoan needs six points, especially when you look at what’s waiting for them in July, but I’d go with four.
6/16 – 19:30 – Qingdao Jonoon
6/23 – 19:30 – Jiangsu Sainty
July – Guoan finishes the first half of the season on the first day of the month by travelling to Evergrande. Will this match already have title implications? Will we see Guangzhou going into it undefeated? Will they have a major new signing? Okay, I’m talking a little too much about Evergrande, because they still have that murderer’s row, following a “break” against Fuli, when they go away to Shanghai and Tianjin with Hangzhou sandwiched in between. I’d wish for eight or nine points, anything over that would be a nice bonus.
7/1 – 19:35 – @Guangzhou Evergrande
7/7 – 19:30 – Guangzhou Fuli
7/14 – 20:00 – @Shanghai Shenhua
7/21 – 19:30 – Hangzhou Greentown
7/28 – 19:30 – @Tianjin Teda
August – Two likely wins at the beginning and end of the month, but the two games in the middle are going to be anything but. Once again, I’m going with 10 points, as they should be able to win a trio of matches and earn a point in Jinan.
8/4 – 19:30 – Dalian Shide
8/10 – 19:35 – @Shandong Luneng
*8/17 – 19:30 – Liaoning Whowin
8/25 – 19:45 – @Shanghai Shenxin
September – I didn’t include Guiyang in the travelable away matches, but that doesn’t matter, I love the city and would really like to make the trip, even if it is on the far side. It’s hard to have a perfect month, but is nine points too much to ask for here? Would it be more realistic to say seven?
*9/14 – 19:30 – Henan Construction
9/21 – 15:30 – @Guizhou Renhe
*9/28 – 19:30 – Changchun Yatai
October – A month filled with road games, though all reasonable weekend trips. As I keep bringing up, a lot depends on Guoan’s away form in the coming season, but I’m going with five points here.
10/6 – 15:30 – @Dalian Aerbin
10/20 – 15:30 – @Qingdao Jonoon
10/27 – 15:30 – @ Jiangsu Sainty
November – Last season ended away to Shanghai and I said the match could have major ACL implications on top of being a derby (it didn’t, Guoan had already wrapped up the second ACL spot and was on cruise control), this season they have an even tougher finish, hosting Evergrande in a match that could very well have title implications. For Guoan, they have to be happy it’s at home, I’m sure its going to be a pumped up, raucous crowd for this one, and while I won’t predict a win, I imagine they’ll close out with a single point.
11/3 – 15:30 – Guangzhou Evergrande
If it all works out the way I have it here, Guoan should be in the neighborhood of 60-65 points which should be enough to secure an ACL spot and possibly even mount a title challenge. Last season’s crazy 11 draws kept Guoan off the pace I had set that year, mainly a killer summer when they couldn’t win on the road kept them from mounting a serious challenge. Guangzhou set a record last season with 68 points, the most any team has earned since the league has gone to 16 clubs. Typically somewhere between 55-65 is enough for the league title and I’d imagine this year the winner having somewhere in the low 60s.