It’s second v third on Wednesday night at Yuexiushan but after a shaky start to the second half of the season the gap between the sides is getting wider. Can the blue and whites reverse this or will Beijing Guoan follow the breaking of their Hongkou hoodoo by recording a first victory over Guangzhou R&F at Yuexiushan?
Captain Zhang Yaokun sat out Sunday’s win due to suspension but will be free to play here which is lucky for Sven because second choice centre back Zhao Ming, who has only just returned from a long injury lay-off, went off in the first half against Hangzhou with a back injury. Sunday saw yet another new look line of three in Sven’s 4-2-3-1 formation and yet again Zhang Yuan retained his place. Wang Xiaolong looked the better player after he replaced Zhang and, unlike at Gongti earlier in the season, will be availed to face his old club on Wednesday.
Last Time Out
The blue and whites are making a strong bid to take Shanghai Shenhua’s comeback kings crown as they yet again recovered after going behind, this time to a Macena goal for Hangzhou. However, two more from goal machine Hamdallah and a peach from local hero Lu Lin saw R&F past Hangzhou Greentown 3-1.
After being dumped out of the cup on penalties, Beijing Guoan recovered to beat Shanghai East Asia 2-0 with inform Dejan Damjanovic continuing his great start to his Guoan career by getting both goals.
Stats of the week
In their three visits to Hangzhou, Guangzhou R&F have now won (2014), drawn (2012) and lost (2013).
Photo of the week
One for the Lu Lin fan appreciation society as the Cantonese opens the scoring against Hangzhou on Sunday.
Causes for Optimism…
With Zhang back from suspension, R&F will have almost a full choice squad available and one that, 0-1 loss to Shenxin aside, has continued it’s free-scoring form from the first half of the season. Park Jong-Woo finally scored from a direct freekick, new boy Aaron Olanare has opened his account and Wang Xiaolong, culprit of a shocking miss against Tianjin on opening day, bagged a brace against Liaoning too. The men in green will be most fearful of Hamdallah though as the Moroccan’s 16 goals put him behind only Elkeson in the scoring charts
Due to R&F’s customary early exit from the CFA cup, Beijing’s recent schedule has been even busier than that of R&F so the men in green will arrive in Guangzhou with a tired squad. Already tired legs won’t relish the sight of Olanare arriving as an impact sub late in the game as R&F’s Nigerian striker combines the strength of a bulldozer with all the subtlety of one.
… and for Concern
Enforced changes due to injuries and suspensions aside, Sven’s continued tinkering indicates that even after nineteen games he still hasn’t found his best eleven. Combine this with a normally solid home record looking very wobbly with three home defeats in their last four outings at Yuexiushan and it’s clear R&F’s current position as best-of-the-rest is vulnerable. And that’s without mentioning that Beijing are seven points above the blue and whites, comprehensively outplayed R&F at Gongti earlier in the year and have since added Dejan and Erton to their side.
Watch Out For
After a rush of blood to the head saw Cheng Yuelei dash off his line in the closing minutes against Jiangsu, almost costing the blue and whites the win, Sven dropped him for Zhang Shichang. Signed from Shenzhen Ruby on deadline day, goalkeeper Zhang has now conceded 6 in 4 games which will not fill fans with confidence ahead of the visit of the ‘Ibrahimovic of the East.’
Beijing will be the strongest side the Cantonese have faced at Yuexiushan since the restart of the season and, despite their tired legs, the men from the capital have the quality to come away with their first ever win from Yuexiushan and condemn Guangzhou R&F to their third straight home defeat: 1-2 to Guoan.
Guangzhou R&F v Beijing Guoan kicks off at 7.30pm on Wednesday. For a guide to attending click here.