Shocking performance highlights Greentown’s current state of affairs ahead of two tough away games in the space of a week.
Nothing good comes out of round 12
Lacklustre, inept, lifeless. The list could go on, but you get the idea.
When Guangzhou R&F defender, Jiang Zhipeng was perhaps, harshly dismissed in the 21st minute for a quasi-dangerous tackle on Feng Gang, even the most negative of Hangzhou Greentown fans could have afforded a shred of optimism that this was to finally be their day. Surely Greentown would have the quality to utilise their numerical advantage over nearly 70 minutes of football, right? What followed was a display that would compound Hangzhou’s current struggles and put the tiny, 5135 crowd into a Saturday afternoon stupor.
Initially buoyed by the surge of the numerical advantage, Greentown were looking decent, while creating little and it was a serious lack of a cutting edge that once again proved their downfall. Having failed to make their advantage count, up stepped Renatinho in the closing stages of the first half to curl home a quality free kick from 25 yards. Here we go again.
As the second half wore on and up against a resolute and increasingly deep R&F defence, Greentown mustered few opportunities and certainly none of any venom. Happy to protect their one goal lead, R&F sorties into the Greentown half were few and far between and it became increasingly clear that Hangzhou didn’t have what it took to find a breakthrough. The groans at the final whistle perfectly told the story of yet another agonising result for the men in green.
Ultimately it was an awful display, with every player to a man, putting in substandard and uninspiring performances.
With no credible goal scoring threat and a seemingly complete absence of creativity, the squad is in dire need of a spark of life and a change of fortune. Having failed to capitalize on a string of decent performances, if not winning scorelines in recent weeks, this game was most certainly an opportunity missed. The Greentown hierarchy having displayed their willingness to wield the axe mid-season on numerous occasions, manager Hong Myung-Bo needs to find a solution fast or risk his stay in Zhejiang being a short one.
Up next, Chongqing
Saturday’s disappointment now firmly in the past, Hangzhou Greentown have the chance to quickly make amends, with two tough away games in a week against Chongqing Lifan and Shanghai Shenhua respectively.
Without a win since round 1, Chongqing Lifan currently sit level on points with Greentown, goal difference being the only thing between the two sides and the relegation places. It’s too early to call this a relegation six-pointer, however, with the table and form book as it is, three points would mean an awful lot to either of these too struggling sides.
In their previous encounter season, Chongqing were fortunate to escape Huanglong with a draw, following Wang Dong’s injury time header. Snatching this draw from the jaws of victory is a result Greentown have never really recovered from and the same question marks hang over a team, who remain without a win in the league since round three.
The appearance of Matthew Spiranovic on the bench against R&F, fueled hope of an imminent return for a sorely missed player to a squad seriously lacking in inspiration, quality and fight in all areas of the field.
An entertaining, 3-2 away loss to Liaoning in round 12, showed Chongqing still know where the back of the net is, a trick Greentown seriously need to rediscover. With this in mind, it’s incredibly difficult to see Hangzhou bucking their recent form here. This game will really be an attrition battle between too increasingly desperate sides and it could simply come down to who wants it more.
The form book doesn’t exist here, with both teams woefully short of anything resembling form. Largely due to recent performances in front of goal and Greentown’s dreadful display against R&F, XI reluctantly predicts a 2-0 win for Chongqing and for Greentown to be pushed further into the relegation quagmire.
Can jilted Cahill inspire a win against former side Shenhua
Underdogs Greentown just seem to love playing Shanghai Shenhua. Having sprung numerous surprise results in recent seasons, including a thumping 4-1 home win in 2015, this particular edition has the added spice of Tim Cahill returning to face his former employers.
It was no secret that Cahill felt let down by the Shenhua management following his untimely release and Greentown must be chomping at the bit for a determined Cahill to take the field on Sunday. With the expiration of his contract looming and no word on his future, chances for Cahill to have a lasting impact on Greentown’s faltering season as quickly running out. If he can replicate his goalscoring performance against Jiangsu Suning again on Wednesday night and inspire a desperately out of form Greentown to a victory or even a draw, CSL 2016 is still young enough for Hangzhou Greentown to haul themselves out of danger.
Greentown can take hear from the fact that, Shenhua remain, as ever, unpredictable. While boasting a team of immense quality, including the in-form Demba Ba, their current position of seventh is below par for the ambitious side. Despite this unpredictability, this is a game they really shouldn’t be taking anything other than three points from. Even with the potential influence of Cahill’s return, on current form looking past anything other than a Shenhua romp would be a fantasy for Greentown fans. It is going to take a performance of the season to get anything from this game and therefore, a 3-0 win for Shenhua seems the most likely result in a season where Hangzhou Greentown could finally end up falling through the trap door and into League One.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015