The season is almost upon us again. After a long and hard winter break the Chinese Super League is set to kick off tomorrow. And with a new season comes a new series of articles. In this series we will preview the derbies in a little more detail than the normal league preview. And what a first match we have. The Guangzhou Derby on the first day of the season, it’s hard to find a more potentially entertaining match in the league.
The four matches these two teams played last season, two in the league and two in the cup, had a combined amount of 25 goals! I expect nothing less than three goals tomorrow. There has never been a 0-0 draw between these two sides since Guangzhou R&F moved to their current home and changed to the R&F name in 2011.
There is a clear big brother in this derby in terms of both trophies won and attendance, Evergrande topped last season’s attendance figures with 45,589 on average while R&F were at the very bottom with only 9,904 on average.
R&F started brightly last season but dwindled away during the second half of the season. Could this be the year they finally challenge for the top spot? With players like last year’s Golden Boot and Player of the Year winner Eran Zahavi, Brazilian magician Renatinho leading the attack and last season’s Young Player of the Year Huang Zhengyu and fellow Team of the Season player Jiang Zhipeng in defence there’s plenty of quality around the side. All they need to do is string together results. And it all starts tomorrow.
Evergrande are now coached by last season’s Tianjin Quanjian coach Fabio Cannavaro, the Manager of the Year for last season guided the newcomers to a Champions League spot and then set his sights on a return to the club he coached in 2015. Alan and Ricardo Goulart are still here, Nemanja Gudelj has been acquired from Tianjin TEDA and could provide a solid midfield cover if he manages the step up after varying performances last year.
Evergrande player to watch: Ricardo Goulart – The 26-year-old attacking midfielder finished joint second in the top scorer’s chart and fourth in the assists table. He is extremely crucial to Evergrande’s attacking ways and if R&F manages to keep him quiet, Evergrande could struggle.
R&F player to watch: Eran Zahavi – The Israeli was on fire all of last year and finished top scorer in the league. He just signed a new contract to keep him at the club for the foreseeable future and I don’t see why he shouldn’t keep scoring this season.
Score prediction: 2-2. With no game ending 0-0 in over five years, there’s guaranteed to be goals in this one. With the scores from last season reading 7-2, 4-2, 4-2 and 2-2 across both the cup and the league my bet of 2-2 might even be considered a conservative punt. One thing is for sure. There will be goals… Now watch it end 0-0.