Due to the ACL, Beijing Guoan has a shortened week to prepare for their trip to Dalian this weekend. After having struggled at the start of the season, Guoan is starting to come together and has put in a succession of strong performances over the last few weeks, but going on the road has never been easy under Jaime Pacheco. Here’s a look at everything you need to know for the upcoming match against Dalian Shide.
A Changed Man
Xu Liang’s performances have made all the difference over the last three matches. Early in the season, Xu was playing in a more defensive role, sitting back alongside Darko Matic and not pushing forward as much. Recently, Pacheco has adjusted things leaving Matic by himself and allowing Xu to organize the midfield, this has also pushed Piao Cheng in an even more offensive role supporting the forwards. Xu personally appears to be more concerned with distributing the ball instead of trying to do it all himself, which has allowed the wingers, especially Wang Xiaolong, and even the defensive backs (namely Zhou Ting), to push forward and create opportunities. Xu appears happier in recent weeks and is no longer making the turnovers that killed the offense a few weeks ago.
There was a lot of fanfare over new strikers AK and Reinaldo, but both are having difficulties fitting into Chinese football. Of Guoan’s 10 goals in all competitions, the strikers have only scored two of those goals， both coming from Reinaldo. For “Big Ears” (ie Reinaldo), he doesn’t appear to be the kind of attacker who is dangerous with the ball at his feet running at defenders (or at least hasn’t been able to demonstrate his ability yet). Guoan has hoped to use their strong wing play to get him service in the box, but they don’t seem to be on the same page yet. AK is a story in himself, despite being the Serb Golden Boot winner, Pacheco has struggled to integrate him into the side and the few times he has been given chances, he has struggled to prove himself. That’s starting to change after some good reserve performances, so we can expect to see more of him in the next few weeks.
A lot has been made of Dalian’s trouncing at the hands of Jiangsu last weekend. That loss is a troubling sign and has led to some rumblings about manager Nelo Vingada’s job security. Only four games into the season and sitting on four points, any move would be jumping the gun right now. Going into the season, expectations for Shide were never high, they looked to be a midtable side that should be able to stay above the drop and are right where they should be.
Away at Jinzhou has never been easy for Guoan, mananging only five points in their last eight trips to the northern seaside. Last year, the two sides played to a disappointing 0-0 stalemate and despite confidence based on recent results for both teams, a draw would not be out of order this trip.
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