It’s once again time for what could be called the new “China Derby”, as Guangzhou Evergrande hosts Beijing Guoan on Thursday night. Since Evergrande has joined the CSL in 2011 they’ve of course won the league four times in a row while Guoan has finished second and third two times each.
There have been some epic battles between these sides the past few years, with neither able to win at the other’s ground until Shao Jiayi’s late free kick winner at Tianhe last season changed that. This year, Beijing needs a similar bit of heroics from somebody if they plan on seriously breaking Evergrande’s grip on the title.
With both teams tied at the top, why is it critical for Guoan and not Evergrande? While last year’s victory was important, it came so late that Evergrande still controlled their own destiny going into the season’s last match. The Cantonese side is going through a spot of chaos lately, with their captain suspended and having just changed managers, a win for the visitors would further impact their spiral and give the Men in Green a mental boost going into the second half of the season. Guangzhou are still dealing with a number of injuries
Draws have ruled the day when these two sides have met, with half the matches ending with them splitting the points and that’s most likely what will happen tomorrow, but Evergrande have been here before, they’ve won four straight titles, it’s Beijing that needs to step up and take all three points, especially as they’re more likely to need the cover down the road. With the transfer window just opened and changes likely all around, this is a good opportunity that needs to be taken advantage of by the Beijingers. A failure to do so could lead to regrets when we get into October.