With Beijing Guoan sitting five points behind league leaders Shanghai SIPG, the next two matches will determine whether they contend for the title this season or fall by the wayside. With only nine matches left to the 2015 season, tonight’s clash against Shandong Luneng (currently three points ahead of Guoan and two off the lead) is nearly a must win situation for the Beijingers, not an easy task.
Shandong got off to a slow start this season, losing three of their first six this season and then only losing once after that (when Guangzhou Evergrande came to town). There were plenty of growing pains to the Cuca era, but Shandong stuck with him and it seems to be paying off, with the side sitting in third place and in the quarterfinals of the CFA Cup. In late April, Shandong faced off against Guoan having lost two in a row and with Cuca’s job in peril, however the end result was a big 3-0 victory over the Beijingers, that win may have been what catapulted the side to success.
Meanwhile in Beijing, there have been some struggles as of late and goals have been hard to come by. More than anything what the side needs is to put together the sort of run Shandong has been on since that match in Round 7, something along the lines of the success they had during the final stretch of the 2014 season. A draw isn’t enough, Guoan needs a KO, taking all three points and gaining ground on at least one of their fellow title challengers. Guoan has gone three rounds without a victory, losing two of those matches and seemingly failed to find the needed goal threat during the transfer window. If not for the national team break, which gave some space from current conditions, this would be an incredibly low spot.
Guoan is in the midst of a tough part of the schedule, after tonight’s match, Beijing travels to Shijiazhuang over the weekend to face off against a side newly promoted Shijiazhuang Everbright, who are currently in fifth and undefeated at home this season. Will the Men in Green be able to break that trend? All that will be unimportant if the side doesn’t come away with three points in this one.