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View from the North: Beijing Guoan v Shandong Luneng Preview

This week Guoan welcomes one of the Chinese Super League’s old guard, Shandong Luneng, who have turned themselves into the league’s youngest side this year.  Guoan have yet to lose at home and should be especially happy to be back after their road trip to Dalian.  Here is ‘s take on tonight’s match.

Home Sweet Home
Guoan has gotten on the board first in all four of their home matches (ACL+Chinese Super League) this season.  They’ve also scored three goals in both home league matches so far and will hope to stay hot.  They’ve been a completely different team at home and on the road this season, so it’s easy to imagine their joy at returning to their home in Chaoyang District.

One of the main reasons they’re happy is because they’ll be playing on an actual pitch tonight, instead of the “pitch” in Dalian, one that was far better suited to grazing cattle rather than a football match.

Passing Problems
Against Dalian, Guoan struggled mightily to complete passes, in part that can be blamed on the pitch, which forced Guoan into the air, instead of playing the tight passing game they are used to.  Bad pitch or not, there was a dramatic drop in Beijing’s passing game against Dalian.  Only 5 players completed over 50% of their passes (Piao Cheng and Xu Liang led the way at 82% and 80% respectively) and the number of total passes dropped significantly.  Darko Matic made the most passes, with 39, and only completed 44% of them.

This is in dramatic contrast to how the side played at home against Tianjin two weeks ago.  In that match, the player with the lowest percentage of completed passes was Reinaldo at 69% and three players made more than 50 passing attempts (Zhou Ting fell just short with 48). Hopefully, as talked about above, a return to Worker’s Stadium will mean that Guoan can return to their touch passing game.

The Opponents
This old rivalry will be full of new blood tonight when Shandong takes the pitch at Worker’s Stadium. New manager Henk ten Cate has gone with a youth movement this season, making Shandong the Chinese Super League’s youngest starting XI. Familiar faces like Han Peng, Wang Yongpo, Zhou Haibin, and Lu Zheng have been replaced due to injury or falling out of favor with the new manager. The new youngsters, led by Zheng Zheng, have put in some good performances, though the team’s results show a team going through a transition period.

Shandong’s foreign contingent has remained all but unchanged over previous years, with Lebanese hardman Roda Antar solidifying the midfield and picking up some of the scoring slack. Obina, Shandong’s Brazilian striker, is also well known to Guoan fans after his final minute equalizer at Gongti last season, and he’s on a roll this season with two goals in four matches.

Guoan is 7-15-13 against Luneng since 1994. In recent years, the side has consistently struggled when they face Shandong, the last victory being a 1-0 at Worker’s Stadium in 2007 (the same year Guoan spanked Shandong 6-1 in Jinan.

Prediction
With Guoan putting in some impressive results at Worker’s Stadium, expect a very tight, physical match, though I think Guoan will sneak ahead and win it 2-1.

Stats, Suspensions, and Injuries

  • Guoan scorers: Renaildo (2), Piao Cheng (1), Mao Jianqing (1), Manu (1), Xu Liang (1), Zhang Xizhe (1)
  • Shandong scorers: Antar (2), Obina (2), Hao Junmin (1)
  • Neither team has any players suspende
    Category W-D-L Category W-D-L
    Overall 2-3-3 on Tuesday 0-1-1
    Chinese Super League 2-1-2 on Wednesday 0-1-0
    ACL 0-2-1 on Friday 2-0-0
    Home 2-2-0 on Sunday 0-1-2
    Road 0-1-3 Scoring 1 goal 0-2-1
    Scoring first 2-2-0 Scoring 2 goals 0-0-0
    Giving up first goal 0-0-3 Scoring 3+ goals 2-0-0
    Leading at half 2-0-0 After a win 0-1-1
    Losing at half 0-0-2 After a loss 2-0-1
    Tied at half 0-3-1 After a draw 0-1-1
    Yang Zhi in goal 0-0-0 Pacheco in a suit 2-2-0
    Hou Sen in goal 2-3-3 Pacheco in practice wear 0-1-3
    Piao Cheng turns into Super Piao 1-2-1 Francois makes laughable defensive error 0-0-2
    Xu Liang scores a free kick 1-0-0 Zhang Xizhe plays like Zhang Xizhe 0-1-1
    Mao Jianqing vs Shanghai (or pretends vs SH) 1-2-0 Zhang Xizhe forgets he’s Zhang Xizhe 2-1-0

     

 


Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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