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Preview from the North: Homecomings and headaches

Beijing Guoan hasn’t had an easy schedule to start off the 2012 season, but tonight’s match is arguably going to be the hardest to date. Guizhou’s on a bit of a winning streak and their manager Gao Hongbo, a former Guoan superstar, seems to always get his teams up for matches against his former club. The Beijingers have an impressive four match league winning streak its going to want to uphold when Guizhou comes to town, but with their away form struggling, it’s easy to be unsure about what Guoan side is going to show up.

Middling Midfield

Despite the injury to Francois, Guoan’s defense has not struggled to keep opponents off the scoreboard. However, their issue has been finding a way to get goals. It’s not the fault of the two new foreign strikers who’ve struggled to find goals, they can’t be blamed because they haven’t gotten the service they need from the midfield.

Unlike last season when manager Jaime Pacheco’s lineup, including the midfield, was pretty much set in stone, this season he keeps trying different pairings with varying degrees of success. Piao Cheng, who started the season on fire, has tapered off as of late, struggling to find his natural position in the attacking role behind the striker. The issue has been his lack of support from the defending midfielders, pulling him back and out of his most comfortable position. At the same time, Manu has been able to use his speed on the wing, but his passing hasn’t always been up to par. A list of issues can be added for all the other midfielders, which is why the club sits where they do right now.

Fortunately, those problems haven’t effected their home performance too much so far this year, here’s hoping that continues tonight.

The Opponent

Guizhou’s had their own ups and downs so far this year, but they usually find a way to avoid losing. That said, they’ve drawn more matches than any team in the league. Their aging stars Qu Bo and Sun Jihai haven’t had the impact that is to be expected, instead its mainly been their new foreign signings, especially Zlatan Muslimović and Rafa Jordà who’ve combined to take up the burden of scoring goals.

The other important returnee to Beijing is Yang Hao, a local who came up with the capital side but left after the 2010 season, following former manager Lee Jangsoo to Guangzhou. After a tough season with Evergrande Yang followed his other great benefactor, Gao Hongbo, to Guizhou where he’s become a regular in the lineup and has often taken up the captain’s armband.

This is the third incarnation of Guizhou Renhe (previously Shaanxi Renhe and Inter Shanghai) and Guoan is 6-6-3 against them, including 5-2-1 at home (the one loss coming last season when Shaanxi picked up a late winner).

Prediction

So far, my predictions have been spot on, but this may be the toughest match to predict so far. It’s a real head vs. heart match, though I’m still going with the heart as I believe Guoan can pull this one out 2-1, hopefully we’ll see Piao Cheng get his name back on the score sheet. The reality is that it’s probably going to be a 1-1 draw.

Category W-D-L Category W-D-L
Overall 4-5-5 on Tuesday 0-1-2
Chinese Super League 4-3-2 on Wednesday 0-1-1
ACL 0-2-3 on Friday 4-0-0
Home 4-2-1 on Sunday 0-3-2
Road 0-3-4 Scoring 1 goal 1-2-1
Scoring first 3-2-0 Scoring 2 goals 1-1-1
Giving up first goal 1-1-5 Scoring 3+ goals 2-0-0
Leading at half 3-0-0 After a win 0-1-3
Losing at half 1-1-4 After a loss 2-2-1
Tied at half 0-4-1 After a draw 2-1-1
Yang Zhi in goal 0-0-0 Pacheco in a suit 4-2-1
Hou Sen in goal 4-5-4 Pacheco in practice wear 0-3-4
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 0-1-2
Mao Jianqing vs Shanghai (or pretends vs SH) 1-2-0 Zhang Xizhe forgets he’s Zhang Xizhe 2-2-1

 

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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