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Worker’s Stadium Revue: What we learned from loss at Evergrande

Last night’s clash at Tianhe was a classic Guoan-Evergrande match, excellent football, lots of passion, and plenty of excitement, unfortunately a late Paulinho goal was the difference (go here for the match report).  Opening away at the six time champions is never an easy task and supporters surely won’t rue this defeat very long, but what did we learn from the clash?

Bad refereeing
By the end pf the match, pretty much any contact would lead to a yellow card as the referee lost control of the match. Despite clubs continuing to invest heavily in the talent on the pitch, the league hasn’t taken the necessary step to invest in the men who rule over the games. Evergrande’s first goal was scored from a clearly offside position, perhaps that was why he gave Guoan a questionable penalty when Renato Augusto went down in the box. However, when Gao Lin dove in a similar style to Augusto, he was shown yellow (and tore the linesman’s head off with his eyes) and a last gasp defensive takedown of Goulart was waved off. It’s unfortunate that the weekend’s best match was marred by multiple controversial decisions.

Tang Shi is the real deal
The season is only one match old, but it appears Guoan unearthed a gem in Tang Shi. The youngster played with poise beyond his years and looks like the exact type of player this new rule was designed to help. Having spent most of his young career overseas, he was on the books of League One’s Meizhou Hakka when Guoan snapped him up. Without the rule, he’d probably spend most his time on the bench while more established players like Yu Dabao and Song Boxuan were chosen over him, however it appears he’s ready for the CSL and could have a significant impact this season.

Structure’s back
For much of last season, there was a sense of disorganization that ran through Guoan’s squad and the way the team played together. It never looked like they came together as a team or had any structure. Last night the team played like a unit, everyone was clear on the game plan and particularly Renato Augusto and Ralf were on the same page as their teammates and accepting that they are in China (ie no childish outbursts from Augusto when a pass missed its mark). Despite all the preseason questions about the inexperience in the back four as a group, they managed to put in work for the most part. This team looked capable of taking on all comers in the CSL.

How long will the good vibes in the squad, the play of the back four, and the organization last for? Was this the Beijingers just pumped up for a big match against a hated opponent or will we see this level of performance maintained throughout the season. At the same time, chances were few and far between and the one goal did come from a penalty, I think fans won’t complain seeing Jonathan Soriano starting after the international break. With the Men in Green going away at Guizhou this weekend, they have a good chance at their first win of the new season and a confidence boost as they go into the international break and prepare for Shanghai Shenhua in early April.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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