Beijing Guoan lost ground on Guangzhou Evergrande last weekend when they lost at home for the first time this season. Now, they head south to Guangzhou needing a victory as the season reaches the halfway point. Their opponents are red hot, producing some punishing results and only getting stronger during the transfer window.
Lately manager Jamie Pacheco has been using Mao Jianqing on the wing, allowing Piao Cheng to once again slot in behind the striker. The choice of AK up top is also a bit of a change and it doesn’t seem as if he’s entirely on the same page with the midfield.
Guoan has failed to score a goal in the last two matches, but it’s not that they’re without chances. They put an all out assault on Qingsao’s keeper and attacked with similar intensity against Jiangsu over the weekend. The problem isn’t with the buildup, like earlier in the season, it’s with the final touch, putting the ball in the net.
That goalless streak is not a good thing to be taking into a match against the league’s top team, but hopefully after two weeks Pacheco has a plan.
A point of weakness?
Evergrande is once again the league’s dominant side, one that has been made even stronger this year. It’s still unknown whether Lippi will bring out the big guns, using new signing Lucas Barrios. Even without him, it’s going to be a dangerous side that Guoan will have to face. If there’s one weakness the southerners have shown this year, it’s their tendency to get off to a slow start. With the exception of the Shandong match, where they scored in the opening 10 minutes, the majority of Guangzhou’s goals have come late in matches.
If Guoan can get off to a quick start, it could make all the difference.
The Beijing media is saying a loss by one or two goals would be considered a good result, but that’s too negative. Evergrande’s hot, putting together two dominant performances in a row, but they previously struggled. As is the case down south, the city’s likely going to be hit by a tropical depression tomorrow, so expect massive rains which could have a major influence on the match. I’m confident in Guoan’s talents and expect it to be a 1-1 draw, though Guangzhou may be able to get a late winner to walk away with all three points.