After a long winter of waiting, the Chinese football fans are finally treated to some real matches as the Asian Champions League kicks off tonight with clashes that involve the CSL champions and runners up. Without any serious competitive matches behind them, it’s hard to predict anything about these two matches, but we will certainly be watching closely and provide full wrap ups tomorrow.
FC Seoul vs. Jiangsu Sainty (China time: 18:30)
After nearly a decade of mediocrity, FC Seoul won the K-League title in 2010 and followed it up by winning again in 2012. The club’s success has seen a number of players get national team call-ups, including key players Kim Chi-Woo and youngster Ko Yo-Han . The club’s Montenegro striker Dejan Damjanović, has made Seoul his home since 2008 (before that playing in nearby Incheon) and last season had an impressive strike rate of 31 goals in 40 matches.
Jiangsu Sainty’s performance last year was a shock, coming from nowhere to finish second place in the league, but in the off-season they did what they could to make sure this won’t be their first and only time in the ACL. Off-season pickups Wu Xi, Bari Mamatil, and Hamdi Salihi are sure to help, but someone will need to help score goals with Cristian Danalache not able to play in this match. On top of that, there is China’s horrible record against Korean sides, with only 6 wins and 5 draws in 34 ACL matches since 2008.
Guangzhou Evergrande vs. Urawa Red Diamonds (China time: 20:00)
Is this a battle between Asia’s past and future? Urawa is one of Asia’s most well known clubs with amazing supporters, but after dominating Asia in 2007, they’ve somewhat fallen off the last few years. Guangzhou, on the other hand, has become THE power in Chinese football and is hoping to grow their trophy cabinet to include an ACL trophy. Urawa’s only made two previous appearances in the ACL, their last being in 2008 when they reached the semifinals, and so for many of the players this continental competition will be a new thing. Evergrande, on the other hand, has a squad full of players with a lot of ACL experience and the club was quarterfinalists last season, though they will be missing key defender Feng Xiaoting tonight. This is sure to be a clash that everyone across Asia has an eye on as these two clubs in red do battle.
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