This third round of the Super League sees yet another derby take centre stage. This is a derby that only started last year when Tianjin Quanjian gained promotion to the Super League for the first time.
Tianjin TEDA had been the best in the city but Quanjian immediately dethroned the big brother and finished in a spectacular third place while TEDA struggled near the bottom and only avoided relegation thanks to a good second half of the season.
This season TEDA will hope to bounce back and at the very least get a top 10 finish, hopes of the glory days of 2010 and 2011 when they got a second place in the league one season and won the cup in the other may be just a little too far out of reach for now.
Quanjian will hope to avoid the stereotypical and dreaded “second season syndrome” and after a bright start in the Champions League they need a win here to avoid a downwards spiral in the league.
Because after winning the opening round against Henan Jianye two losses followed, one in the league against newly promoted Beijing Renhe and one in the Champions League against Jeonbuk from South Korea. They got revenge on Jeonbuk in the midweek however, as they won 4-2 on home soil. That could mean the world as TEDA aren’t in great form either.
The older brother drew their opening game against Hebei China Fortune who finished fourth last season, that’s not a bad start to the season. However, a loss to Henan in the second round is not good and to avoid submerging themselves down into the relegation swamp already they could really use a win here.
Last season saw both teams win one each, both at home. Quanjian won the first derby 3-0 while TEDA won 4-1 near the end of the season. So if that trend is continuing that means that TEDA should win this as they are the home side tomorrow.
Tianjin TEDA player to watch: John Obi Mikel – The Nigerian struggled with injury that kept him out for large chunks of last season, that might have been what caused TEDA’s big downfall. But he seems to be back to his best now and the former Chelsea player will be vital in stopping the Quanjian strike force.
Tianjin Quanjian player to watch: Anthony Modeste – The striker is on loan from Köln in the Bundesliga where he scored a good amount of goals for the Billy Goats, joining Quanjinan last summer. He has started well in Tianjin scoring seven in his eight games last season and has five goals to his name across all competitions so far this season. That amount could be upped against TEDA, who also have Alexandre Pato to rely upon for goals.
Score prediction: 2-4 – This is a difficult game to call but as the last two matches between these two have been goal-heavy I think this will be no exception. But I think this will be the first derby to end in an away win as Quanjian’s strike force should be better than the TEDA equivalent and John Obi Mikel isn’t so good that he can stop them all by himself.