Thursday night sees a third versus fourth battle as Shangdong Luneng travel to the Cantonese capital to take on a depleted Guangzhou R&F side in their final game at Yuexiushan before the World Cup break. Can the blue and whites end on a high note?
Xu Bo’s red card means he joins Jiang Ning in missing this game through suspension and Park Jong-Woo has now returned to South Korea to link up with the national squad ahead of the World Cup. R&F teammate Jang Hyun-Soo is on the Korean standby list but, if back fit, will be available for selection for R&F. Left back Jiang Zhipeng missed the Guizhou game and completes the list of players doubtful to appear on Thursday.
Last Time Out
The blue and whites went down 2-1 in Guizhou after going ahead via Davi penalty, this time awarded after Guizhou’s goalkeeper decided to knee Ken Ilso in the gut. He stayed on the field but Xu Bo saw red both literally and figuratively after retaliating and smacking Yu Hai on the back of his head. By this point Brazilian Hyuri had scored twice for Guizhou and the Cantonese couldn’t find an equaliser.
After going down to a Moreno penalty against Shenhua, Shangdong hosted East Asia and drew 3-3 in a game dominated by attack. Shandong gave up a couple of soft goals and were unlucky not to win but the headlines were dominated by under pressure coach Cuca getting a journalist ejected from the press conference after accusing him of publishing false stories.
Stat of the week
R&F have so far been awarded six penalties in 2014. They had eight in all of 2013
Photo of the week
Causes for Optimism…
The blue and whites have never found playing Guizhou easy but at least this time they returned with a manager. In Hamdallah and Davi the blue and whites have two of the CSL’s top scorers and with both reunited on the Yuexiushan turf for the first time since early April the fans will be expecting goals.
Whilst Cuca appears to have the backing of the boardroom, those in the changing room have not performed as well as expected so far this season and have varied wildly from good to bad so there is no guarantee that their attacking performance against East Asia will be repeated. They’ll also be missing Ryan McGowan who has linked up with Australia ahead of the World Cup.
… and for Concern
If Jang isn’t fit, it seems that either 2012 captain Li Zhe will be recalled from the reserves or that Li Yan will be played out of position at centre back. Combine this with the absence of Park from midfield and YNP does not fancy the blue and white’s defence against Love and co. if they are in the form they showed at Gongti.
Watch Out For
Despite appearing to lack both the speed of foot and thought necessary to play on the wing, Zhang Yuan has been a regular under both Sergio Farias and currently Sven Goran-Eriksson. He has shown flashes of good play in 2014 but is yet to get a goal and at times it seems like he wouldn’t be able to score on a team night out to one of those premises for which Dongguan was so famous. Zhang manages to keep Lu Lin on the bench though so he must be doing something right and Thursday night will give him another opportunity to show exactly what that is.
R&F’s free-scoring run seems to have ended and with their defensive unit lacking key players a Shandong win would be no surprise and also entirely in keeping with the fluctuating fortunes of the Jinan club who will believe they can come away with a 2-1 win.
R&F as predicted by the Yuexiushan News and Review:
P 11 W 5 D 4 L 3 GF 16 GA 14 GD +2 Pts 19
R&F according to the CSL table:
P 11 W 6 D 4 L 2 GF 24 GA 12 GD +12 Pts 22
Guangzhou R&F v Shandong Luneng kicks off at 7.35pm on Thursday at Yuexiushan