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AFC Champions League

Guangzhou Evergrande kick off ACL campaign v Urawa Reds tonight

The new season kicks off this evening the prestigious Asian Champions League, with the pick of the ties undoubtedly the game between two of the continent’s best supported sides, Guangzhou Evergrande and Urawa Reds.
Relatively speaking, Guangzhou are the new kids on the block, as this is only their second ACL campaign. They are facing established Asian heavyweights in the shape of ACL 2007 winners Urawa who enjoy fanatical support barely matched elsewhere in the continent. However, with a large home ticket demand and a small away ticket allocation, the 2006 J-League winners may have to do without much of a vocal backing.
On the field, Guangzhou look to have the edge, with players capable of dominating possession and/or producing moments of skill to turn the game at any given moment, such as the mercurial Dario Conca and exciting new signing Elkeson.  Word coming from the Urawa camp is that they may be without two or three more experienced players who have ACL experience.  Much of the new, young Urawa team don’t have ACL experience and last season’s counter-attacking style may come up blunt against a dominant Guangzhou set-up who will provide a stern test at the very least.
However, for the first game of the season and the visitors have been able to use the pre-season to prepare as a squad together, whilst much of the Guangzhou squad have been all across the globe on National Team duty. Indeed, with Evergrande providing 11 players to the China squad for their recent AFC cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia, this is something of a handicap for the Cantonese side. Not only this, but Chinese call-ups spent several weeks training with the national squad –  something head coach Marcello Lippi complained about at length in the Chinese media recently.
With violent protests in China over Japan and some rocks in the sea still fresh in the memory, and Urawa being a Japanese team, no chances are being taken. Sina Sports reports that 7,000 police and 4,000 security personnel will be on duty at the game tonight.
On a personal note, I was introduced to Asian football when I lived near Urawa in Japan and spent many a good weekend following the Reds home and away.  For Tuesday night’s game, I shall be sitting in the away end.  However, before you scream “traitor”, my split loyalties will see me sitting with the Guangzhou fans in Japan.  May the best team and fans prevail.
Tonight’s game kicks off at 20.00 hrs Beijing time and can be seen live on CCTV 5 and Guangdong Sports.



  1. GZBiffo

    26/02/2013 at 19:09

    Just about to head down to the stadium! Friendly results haven’t been the best in the run-up to this, and the defense really needs to up their game tonight if we’re to get the season off to a good start. I can only pray Lippi has recognised the futility of trying to turn Qin Sheng into a sweeper, or it could be a long, nerve-wracking night. Here’s hoping that Muriqui is as sharp and dangerous as he looked against Shandong last week and that Barrios is a whole lot less awkward and clumsy!

  2. Fee

    26/02/2013 at 23:30

    Defence up their game….check
    Qin Sheng as sweeper…..check
    Muripui sharp and dangerous…check
    Barrios awkward and clumsy….check(despite scoring)
    Season off to a good start…..WOOHOO

    • bcheng

      26/02/2013 at 23:36

      I think we can say fortunately the Qin Sheng as sweeper experiment wasn’t able to last very long…

  3. GZBiffo

    27/02/2013 at 14:05

    Fortunately indeed! Feng looked a lot more secure there. Cannot for the life of me understand Lippi’s love for Qin – think Zhao Xuri makes a better DM too.

  4. Damian Jones

    27/02/2013 at 20:07

    ..and that was that. Muriqui and Zhang Lin-Peng too good for The Reds (or the Greens in this case). The Chinese Ramos could easily ply his trade in Europe, if any team has enough money to tempt GZ to sell.
    It was good to meet up with some faces from the past and all-in-all a good day in a win-win situation for me.
    The waiting around for buses to and from the stadium was a hassle, especially when the stadium is a 5 minute walk to one of the designated drop off points. Ah well, better to be safe than sorry. However, no hint of menace.

  5. Donald Ross

    28/02/2013 at 11:05

    What did you think of the patchwork pitch? It looked like all the money had been spent on players so there was only enough left to relay small parts of the pitch.

  6. Damian Jones

    01/03/2013 at 13:07

    Thanks for reminding me Donald. I can vaguely remember noticing the state of the pitch and then forgot about it. It did seem as if during the morning rain there’d been a rugby game played.

    • GZBiffo

      01/03/2013 at 14:02

      Yeah, it was rough. A few of us went to one of the friendlies against Shandong the week before though and, honestly, it looked even worse then!

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