Monday, February 22, 2010

Champions Leauge Matchday 1 : Let's Get it Started

It's been a long time without a match and during that time there were a lot of events I failed to report on in the sports world. We've had the whole corruption scandal, Guoan's major signings, Marbury coming to China, the Winter Olympics, the new kits (coming soon), and the biggest, China's national team beating Korea, but you haven't read about any of those things on here. Anyways, now you have what you come to hear for, game information, and we have an interesting one tonight.

It seems like almost no time has passed since Halloween 2009, when on the day of gouls and goblins, Guoan broke a long standing curse to win their first ever domestic league title. That victory guarantees them a spot in the Asian Champions League, though hopefully this year's campaign will go better than last year's weak showing.

Guoan has certainly prepared well for this one, lots of preseason matches against domestic teams as well as a trip to Japan for a few against Japanese and Korean sides (including a brawl incident). They've also made a number of new signings which should do a lot to shape this year's side, bringing in former Scottish international Maurice Ross, CSL scoring stud Otto, and "China's Beckham" Xu Liang.

Just like last year, Guoan is opening its Asian campaign at home against an Australian team, though this time around its the Melbourne Victory. Last year, it was the new signings of the Griffiths brothers that combined against their old team (and older brother) to secure a victory. It appears that Ryan won't be on the ACL roster this time around, though Joel is still around, will he shine when given the chance to impress the large Australian audience? Will one of this year's new signings step up to win over the fans early?

Melbourne's in a tough position, having finished 2nd in their domestic league they are currently in the midst of the playoffs, having won the first leg of their semifinal match last week. They now have to contend with the massive jet lag that comes with a flight to Beijing, as well as winter conditions in Beijing. Despite all this, the manager has declared they won't sit back and play defense, instead they will play an attacking squad and go for the win, though how they turn out on the field will show how true he is to his word.

So there you have it, we'll probably see part 1 of the Tao/Xu experiment in midfield and how it works. Considering Guoan has yet to play a league match, expect team work to be a little spotty, but with a month to go before the start of the season, there is no reason why they shouldn't be able to go all out and seeing how hot Yang Zhi was in the recent East Asian Championship, Guoan will always have him to hold things up. The only team news is that Lang Zheng will be out, serving a two match ban, making it all the more likely we'll see Ross for the first time in the green and white tonight.

With no Chinese team advancing out of the group stage last year, Guoan (and the others) should be pumped up for a better showing to help China save face, it starts tonight, let's go Guoan!

all posts cross posted at Beijing Football.

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