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Evergrande earn first win in Guangzhou Derby

Guangzhou R&F 0-2 Guangzhou Evergrande

Chinese Super League round 7

Elkeson 19,77

Attendance: 14,535

Guangzhou Evergrande notched their first ever win in the Guangzhou derby at Yuexiushan stadium yesterday, with a goal from red-hot forward Elkeson propelling the visitors to the top of the league.

In a departure from the usual match report, Wild East Football has decided to give you a unique perspective on the Guangzhou derby. three perspectives to be precise. One home, one away, and one stuck in the middle.

The Neutral Match Report – Will Crook 

After all the build up, Yuexiu Shan stadium was treated to a decent game and second goal which surely must already be a firm favourite for goal of the season. As it turned out, the Guangzhou Derby seemed to sum up both sides’ fortunes this season. R&F were slow, frustratingly hopeless in attack and seemed to be unable keep the ball for long periods of time. Evergrande on the other hand were clinical, better in the second half as they’ve usually been this season and, in a much underappreciated part of their game, pressed well.

The first half was the more open of the two, both sides having shots on target in the first few minutes. However it soon became clear that Fuli were going to have to give a special performance to get anything out of the game. In the 15th minute Elkeson had a goal disallowed for an incredibly close offside call. It was the team in red who went ahead in the 18th minute. Elkeson, yes him again, rose above a static defence to nod home from a rare pinpoint cross from Sun Xiang. After the first goal, R&F began to get visibly frustrated and found it difficult to find space in front of the Evergrande defence.

After 25 minutes, in a rare early tactical move, Farias decided to bring on Jiang Ning for Griffiths. It seemed a sensible move, R&F were struggling to move the ball forward and couldn’t keep it in Evergrande’s half. Yakubu also needed to be able to move forward into more of an attacking position after being forced back towards the half way line to get the ball. The change seemed to work immediately, Yakubu hit the post and missed a glorious chance to equalise after two delightful and intelligent passes from the lively Raphael Coelho. For those glorious few minutes, R&F played like a team who wanted to get something from the game. For the later stages of the first half the game was still quite open, but chances were few at either end.

Screen shot 2013-04-28 at 22.51.10

A rough approximation of player positions for most of the match.

The second half seemed to be played at a slower, more controlled tempo than the first half.  Even though R&F defended doggedly, Evergrande seemed to take their foot off the gas slightly but still remained composed on the ball and dominant in possession. R&F did manage a few attacks and Yakubu had a goal disallowed, but for the most part Evergrande looked in control. Then, in the 76th minute, Elkeson picked up the ball on the left hand side of the box, took on and passed two R&F defenders and then fired past the keeper into the top right hand corner. ‘太漂亮 TAI PIAOLIANG!‘ the commentator shouted, and he was spot on.

R&F may actually take a few positives from this loss. They generally played better than their previous games this season and may feel that they should have had at least one goal. Old problems remain though and the usual failings were still there for all to see. As for Evergrande, if this win had been against another team, I’m not sure much would have been made of the result or the performance. For both Guangzhou teams it was business as usual.

View from the blue corner – Donald Ross

Another loss for R&F but, at least in the first half, they contributed equally to a pulsating game of football. Lu Lin saw his cross/shot pushed behind for a corner, Yakubu hit the bar from a Raphael Coelho layoff and the Argentine had earlier out-jumped Qin Sheng at the back post only to see his header pushed onto the bar and over. This was R&F’s best attacking display for a long time and up until half time they more or less matched Evergrande chance for chance.

Evergrande began to take control in the second period and for the final half hour R&F were totally on the defensive. A rare attack saw Yakubu head the ball into the net but the white booted referee ruled out it and shortly afterwards Elkeson’s fantastic goal put the result beyond doubt. This brought grudging applause from the Fuli fans but they were massively outnumbered by their Evergrande counterparts who were sitting all over the ground; a situation which is hard to imagine in any other derby game in the world (except perhaps earlier this season for Shanghai Shenxin v Shanghai Shenhua -ed).

Screen shot 2013-04-28 at 22.58.35R&F fans can take comfort from their first half attacking display, if not their defending, and the way Farias’ introduction of Jiang Ning for Royston Griffiths had an effect on the game. However, when both the Australian and Yakubu were substituted, at different times, they walked straight off and towards the changing rooms without acknowledging their replacements, the bench or, criminally given the atmosphere, the fans. This is clearly a bad sign and R&F haven’t started the season well but sacking Farias after losing to one of the best teams in China would be harsh. He should be given another chance to build on the improved attack and stiffen up the defence away to Jiangsu a week on Monday.

View from the red corner – GZ Biffo

The Elkeson show just keeps on running. With only a fifth of the season gone, the scintillating Brazilian has already scored twelve league goals, an unprecedented run of form in this competition.  When his compatriot Muriqui was CSL top scorer in 2011, his season tally was 16; it seems only injury can stop the Elk breaking Li Jinyu’s CSL record of 26 goals in returning the Golden Boot to Evergrande.

He could well have scored more here than the two he got – in fact, he did have the ball in the net three times, but the first time the goal was disallowed due to a dubious offside decision.  His fantastic second goal was worth more than another hat-trick though, a lovely combination of skill and power.

Screen shot 2013-04-28 at 23.02.09You could complain about the number of his shots that go off target if you really wanted to find negatives in his game, but that would be churlish.  He was involved in almost every chance Evergrande had, willing to do most of the work in an attacking unit that was otherwise a bit fatigued from the midweek defeat in Japan.  Muriqui in particular had a great first half, contributing in both attack and defense, but faded rapidly and was the first Evergrande player to be substituted.

Qin Sheng covered well enough for the suspended Zhao Xuri, and Huang Bowen also played well in a more defensive role than usual – he often seemed to deputise for Kim Young-Gwon at the back while the latter made forays up front, seemingly bouyed by his first goal for the club last weekend. Zhang Linpeng understandably had a quiet game by his standards, while Sun Xiang balanced out the usual quota of bad crosses with a lovely one for Elkeson’s first goal. All in all, a decent, competitive match and though the better team won, it was one man who really made all the difference; if he can maintain this form it’s hard to see who can challenge Evergrande dominance this season.

I write about Guangzhou football, Red Blue and Green, I lean towards Guangdong Sunray Cave though. Main team is Tottenham Hotspur and have never gotten over Jurgen Klinsmann’s exit. Born a Cockney but raised in and around Manchester. Used to work for Manchester United when I was a student and yes, I watched Sun Jihai play for Manchester City. Happy Days!

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Damian Jones

    30/04/2013 at 10:46

    I’d have to agree with pretty much all of the above. With regards to Fuli’s fanbase (or lack of), Fuli would be better off moving to a suburban location or, perhaps, back to University town where they could create their own identity and appeal to fans there. Unfortunately (for Fuli), they receive short thrift in Guangzhou city.
    Why did Fuli move away from the University Town stadium anyway? It’s a perfect place to pick up hundreds of fans who want something to do in their free time on that campus.

  2. William Crook

    30/04/2013 at 12:53

    I think that moving to the University Island would be a huge mistake. Firstly Yuexiu stadium is seen as the spiritual home of Guangzhou football and I think being there gives a new team like R&F a certain amount of credibility that if they’d have lacked if they’d moved into a new stadium. Don’t forget they’ve only just arrived in Guangzhou so I think it would be unrealistic to expect sell outs each week. I they should market themselves and an affordable team, the one that you don’t need to shell out thousands to support. They’re located in an arguably less developed area of town, so they may be able to rope in the fan base who just can’t afford Evergrande tickets each week.

    Secondly, if they moved to University Island they would appeal to students, and that ‘s just about it. Although on the metro line, the island is isolated from the rest of Guangzhou. And don’t forget, those students will only be there for 3-4 years after which they’ll then move on to other parts of China. Not a great way to establish your fanbase if they all move away in a year or two.

    I think GZ BIffo touched upon this before and he had a good point. R&F just need some sustained success. One of the reasons Evergrande get good attendances is that they are winners. They have a decent side, they play in the Champions League and they have a few cups under their belt. Would Evergrande get the same support if they were a midtable side? If R&F won the cup, or possibly got into the Champions League, R&F would soon see attendances rise.

    For me this is reminicent of the problems of the ‘Beckham effect’. Instead of chucking money at it and expecting success straight away, R&F just need to hang in there, establish themselves, keep building the team and work their way up the table. They did well last season, but their progress seems to have stalled lately. I really hope the owners of the club remain enthuisasitc about the project. The fans, and I believe GZ has enough to sustain 2 teams, will come when they see a winner. Sad, but true.

  3. Damian Jones

    30/04/2013 at 16:01

    I guess some success could possibly bring out some extra fans/plastics but, at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of love for Fuli in GZ. They are seen as something of a nomadic team (similar to Shenxin in Shanghai), whilst Hengda fans sing about not recognising them as a derby rival (although this is obviously BS and they do care .. lol).
    With regards to University town, there’s another way of looking at it. Every year there will be a turnover of fans, graduates leave, post-graduates join. After a few years they would have quite a fan base around the country (in theory).
    Personally, i’d like to see Fuli qualify for the ACL.

    • bcheng

      01/05/2013 at 08:37

      A return to University Town would be a disaster for R&F and it’s just not in the cards. It’s hard for any new team to establish a fan base in a city where there is already a side, especially one that is winning like Evergrande. The day R&F finishes above Evergrande in the table is the day they start outdrawing them, because Guangzhou fans don’t have strong loyalties either way.

      Unfortunately, it looks likely that they could be on the way out of Guangdong if management decides to give up on football at the end of this season.

      • GZBiffo

        02/05/2013 at 15:18

        You regularly come out with this stuff about Guangzhou fans being ‘less loyal’ than those in most cities B, but any time you attempt to back it up you say stuff that you admit applies to anywhere in China (and most moreso than Guangzhou, since there’s been only really one big club there in recent times until R&F’s 2011 arrival). So, out of curiosity, what’s the source of this conviction that the Cantonese are more fickle / less committed than others in China? Got burned by a Southern lady at some stage?

  4. Cameron Wilson

    01/05/2013 at 09:43

    What is seldom noted is that Guangzhou as a city had a large fanbase willing to support their local club even before Evergrande came along. Guangzhou Pharama (as known before the Evergrande buy-out), were getting average gates of around 20,000 in the second tier in the mid 2000s, at that time based in Yuexiushan. This was despite the club having spent almost a decade in the second tier.

    This state of affairs suggests there is more than enough local interest to support two clubs, but Damian is right, R&F face a similar problem to Shanghai Shenxin in that they have moved around and are a recent arrival in the city. That doesn’t mean they can’t build a fanbase in GZ, but it does mean it will take time to develop. Unfortunately many club owners simply don’t care about this.

    But when finding a club to support, for most fans this is the start of a lifetime commitment, many in GZ who for whatever reason don’t fancy Evergrande, may be reluctant to commit to R&F, a team that is such a recent arrival, for fear they may move again.

  5. Damian Jones

    01/05/2013 at 11:31

    I think it’s a bit harsh to say Guangzhou fans don’t have strong loyalties either way. Evergrande inherited most of GZ Pharms fan base and the additional fans are probably not going to change clubs due to results. Likewise, Fuli fans are quite proud of their team and aren’t going to become Evergrande fans. Guangzhou/Guangdong is very much a sporting area and has more sporting terrestrial tv channels than any other region in China (especially if you include the HK sports channels which we also get), the fans are well educated and get a lot of news and updates about their local teams (be it football, basketball etc). I think it’s a bit of insult to think the fans of these clubs are so fickle.

    • bcheng

      01/05/2013 at 12:57

      The fickleness isn’t completely unique to Guangzhou fans, though there seems to be more bandwagon hoppers than in other cities. I think its similar in Beijing and Shanghai. These cities all have a solid 10k or so core of fans who are absolutely loyal to their club, maybe closer to 15k in Beijing & Guangzhou. The other 15k+ that are attending matches (5-10k in Shanghai) could be easily swayed by a different club’s success.

      If you talk to the regular fans outside of the supporters sections, you’ll often hear that they are fans of the city. That’s why you see fans cheering for R&F in Evergrande kits at Yuexiushan when not on derby day. Or Shenhua fans at East Asia matches. I don’t think Beijing is immune, it’s just there has yet to be a 2nd CSL side in Beijing for more than 3 months.

      Look at attendance of the 3 clubs in Shanghai, it isn’t impossible to see a day when Shenhua isn’t the top team in Shanghai. And while there’s a massive gap right now between Evergrande and R&F, if the blue side stays in Guangdong Province and can turn themselves into winners, that gap will slowly get closer. If/when Xu gets out of football, things could even be totally reversed (though I don’t think R&F will be in Guangdong too much longer). The main clubs in these cities (Guoan, Shenhua, Evergrande) have done little to build up fan loyalties, a smart owner with a successful club could, over time, make an impact in these markets.

      • Cameron Wilson

        02/05/2013 at 09:09

        You could say that Shenhua one day might not be the top club in Shanghai, but then you could say exactly the same about any other city in China if they had one established club which had won nothing for ages and then a new team came along and started winning. People like a winner anywhere in the world, the only difference in China is that none of the clubs have long enough histories to build up big enough core supports to resist the challenges of newcomers.

        Shenxin are a joke, their attendances are seriously over-reported. Various teams have played at Yuanshen stadium over the years, most games barely making four-figure attendances, they aren’t a serious rival to Shenhua at all.

        The only club who could overtake Shenhua fans-wise is East Asia, but they have a lot of work to do. Just days ago 22,000 turned up to see Shenhua v East Asia but less that 1,500 East Asia fans could be bothered turning up to a game in their own city. Sainty and Greentown brought more to Shanghai.

        Also Shenhua, at the lowest and weakest point in their entire history still managed to attract one of Dongya’s best players to sign for them, Bai Jiajun. Everybody in Shanghai knows why he joined Shenhua.

  6. Roon

    01/05/2013 at 11:42

    Has there been anything more on this story?

    THERE’S rumours about down under that the A-League grand final will be Graham Arnold’s farewell to the Central Coast Mariners. Arnie was quizzed on Fox Sports about links to English club Sheffield United, but deftly side-stepped the question.

    The former Socceroo has another option in the cashed-up Chinese Super League (Fuli?) if the Sheffield job doesn’t come through. Arnold is under contract to the Mariners for another season, but understand the club won’t stand in his way.

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/nrl/phil-rothfield-its-hard-labour-for-sacked-canberra-raider-josh-dugan/story-e6frexnr-1226625045438

    • bcheng

      01/05/2013 at 12:34

      Right now, Fuli seem set with Farias, he hasn’t been doing a great job, but I can’t see them spending money on another foreigner manager quite yet, but who knows.

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