Guangzhou R&F travel north to take on Tianjin TEDA on Sunday night as both sides kick-off their 2014 CSL campaigns. Can the visitors find an elusive away win or will it be Tianjin who hit the ground running?
A new column for 2014, the Yuexiushan Report will endeavour to keep readers up to date with all the goings on at Guangzhou R&F each week, as well as previewing and reviewing their CSL games. If the last two seasons are anything to go by this will involve a lot of comments about R&F’s poor defence and away record. The Yuexiushan Report firmly hopes that 2014 will be the year these things change though….
Deadline day signings Abderazak Hamdallah and Ken Ilso Larsen arrived at Guangzhou R&F’s corrugated iron shed, sorry, temporary training base, in Sanshui on Tuesday after their visas were fast tracked. Rumours are that Hamdallah may go straight into the starting eleven, whilst Larsen is most likely to be on the bench. New midfielder Park Jong-Woo was on international duty in Greece with South Korea but is still likely to be involved in Sunday’s game.
Last Time Out
The last time the Blue and Whites played at Yuexiushan was an exciting 4-2 victory over Shanghai Shenhua. That was four months ago, however, and since then the revolving door has been busy as a lot of players have arrived and departed from the club. Pre-season results in Turkey were mixed but last weekend saw a good victory over touring Swedish heavyweights AIK Solna.
Picture of the week
Causes for Optimism…
It’s a new season and the new look R&F squad have a chance to put into practice what they’ve been working on in the offseason. It might be a dreaded away game, but the one bright spot on the Cantonese side’s terrible CSL away record is Tianjin’s Olympic Stadium where they are undefeated with a win and a draw from their two visits.
As for the opposition, Erik Paartalu and his long throw were key for Tianjin in the meetings between the sides last season, but the Aussie now plays in Thailand. Last, but by no means least, Tianjin are playing at home so the R&F players won’t be distracted by this purple kit.
… and for Concern
After losing Yakubu to Qatari side Al-Rayyan, R&F look lightweight in more ways than one upfront. Even if he does start, Moroccan striker Hamdallah will have had little time to get to know his new teammates and, if he doesn’t play, then R&F’s frontmen (Sven has tried both 4-4-2 and 4-5-1/4-2-3-1 in pre-season) will have little experience in that position.
Tianjin look to be a very fit side, their open training session for the press this week was entirely dedicated to fitness, so won’t run out of steam in the final quarter. This is good news for Columbian Carmelo Valencia, who almost slipped under the radar last year on his way to 16 goals, the second highest in the 2013 CSL, and should be offered plenty of support.
Watch Out For
South Korean international centre back Jang Hyun-Soo will be making his CSL debut for R&F in central defence alongside captain Zhang Yaokun. If the Cantonese are to stop leaking silly goals this season these two will be crucial and Sunday’s game will provide the first chance to see the partnership in competitive action.
Home win — The Blue and Whites have never been the best travellers and a cold evening opening season game in Tianjin will likely prove too much for them; the hosts more settled squad and style of play giving them enough for a slender 1-0 win.