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ACL Preview: Guangzhou Evergrande vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings

Guangzhou Evergrande vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings

Suwon Samsung Bluewings will again lock horns with Guangzhou Evergrande in a pivotal AFC Champions League Group G clash on Tuesday at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha. Can Suwon pick up a massive win to keep their qualification hopes alive? K League United's Shibajee Das previews this match. 
  

Last Time Out

Vissel Kobe 0-2 Guangzhou Evergrande

Guangzhou Evergrande picked up their first win in the AFC Champions League this season, courtesy of their Brazil-born superstars. Anderson Talisca opened the scoring for Guangzhou when he stepped up to confidently rifle the ball past the goalkeeper from 12 yards in the 17th minute. Elkeson doubled their advantage with a brilliant free-kick in the 36th minute. 

Andres Iniesta came on in the second half to try and influence the match, as Vissel Kobe dominated possession. Guangzhou was happy to sit back and hit them on the counter. Elkeson nearly added the third in the 83rd minute, after a couple of brilliant step-overs culminated in him getting past the defenders but his shot went narrowly past the far post. In the end, it mattered little as Fabio Cannavaro's men got their campaign back on track with a victory. 




Suwon Samsung Bluewings 0-0 Guangzhou Evergrande

Suwon secured their first point in this season's AFC Champions League after playing out a goalless draw against Guangzhou. Kim Tae-hwan had the only notable chance in the first half, but he dragged his shot wide from just outside the box.

Kim was at it again in the second half, when his long-range drive rippled the side netting. Guangzhou tried to carve out chances after the hour mark, but Wei Shihao's shot which flew over the crossbar was all they could muster in a match devoid of any clear-cut openings. Both teams ultimately played out a battling draw to pick up their first point of the campaign.



Previous Meetings

Suwon is unbeaten in four previous meetings against Guangzhou. The two teams first met in an international friendly fixture in 2015, when Suwon registered a 2-0 victory. Both teams were then drawn together in the AFC Champions League group stage in 2017.

Both the meetings ended in 2-2 draws, but it was Guangzhou who progressed to the next round at the expense of Suwon, behind leaders Kawasaki Frontale. And, it was yet another stalemate between these two sides when they met just over a week ago.

Team News

Guangzhou Evergrande

Fabio Cannavaro's men are already without influential Brazilian midfielder Paulinho who was not included in the squad due to a thigh injury. Right-back Zhang Linpeng was stretchered off in the first match against Vissel Kobe and remains a major doubt again for this match. 

Zhang's injury led to Cannavaro switching to 3-5-2 instead of the usual 4-1-4-1, and the Tigers could again line up in a similar way. Given the magnitude of the match, Anderson Talisca, Elkeson and Ricardo Goulart could all start again, just like they did in their last match. 


Suwon Samsung Bluewings

The Bluewings have travelled to Qatar on the back of an injury-depleted squad. They are without any of their foreign players after the club parted ways with Sulejman Krpic. In addition, Adam Taggart and Doneil Henry were both excluded from the travelling squad due to injuries.

Manager Park Kun-ha will be hoping that his home-grown players can deliver on the continental stage. It could well be an unchanged lineup given that Suwon has had an eight-day rest coming into this clash. However, the onus will be on Kim Min-woo to lead the way and rally his troops. Kim Tae-hwan will also be another key figure in the team if they are to step up their game and clinch an unlikely victory on Tuesday. 
    

The Adversary

Guangzhou Evergrande were second-best in the Chinese Super League final against Jiangsu Suning, after a disappointing 1-2 aggregate loss in the two-legged final. They were also knocked out of the Chinese FA Cup by second-tier Kunshan FC this week, albeit having fielded a young team back home due to their star players being on duty in Qatar.   

Fabio Cannavaro's men are looking to salvage a disappointing season with some positive continental performances. Ricardo Goulart's return is a welcome boost to the squad, the Brazilian having returned from a loan spell at Hebei China Fortune. The 29-year-old had suffered meniscus damage in late April, but has since undergone surgery and is now back to full fitness.

Ricardo Goulart vying for the ball with Jang Ho-ik

Paulinho being ruled out of the tournament is a major blow for the Chinese Super League side. However, the two-time AFC Champions League winners have plenty of attacking flair with fellow Brazilians Anderson Talisca and Elkeson capable of producing significant threat to the opposition.

What To Watch

Will Suwon go full throttle against Guangzhou?


Suwon is yet to score in this season's AFC Champions League. They drew a blank in both their previous matches. As a result, Park Kun-ha has a real job in his hands. He needs to galvanize his boys and make them believe that they can overcome a superior Guangzhou side. Having picked up a solitary point from their first two matches, the Bluewings are in danger of dropping out unless they can get a result against their Chinese Super League opposition.

It will be interesting to see if the Bluewings go in search of the victory right from the off against Guangzhou, or if they decide to sit back and soak up the pressure. A win would put Suwon firmly in the driver's seat going into their final match. On the other hand, a draw would mean that the Bluewings would need to win by at least a two-goal margin in their final match against already-qualified Vissel Kobe.

Will Park Kun-ha be content with a draw on Tuesday and target a win against Vissel Kobe, or will he go full throttle in search of a win against Guangzhou Evergrande? 


FNR

Prediction

Given that Suwon has had a considerable time off after their previous match, the Bluewings will be fresh from the onset. If they can show the same resilience as they did in their previous encounter against Guangzhou, the Bluewings could pick up another point at the end of the night. However, it is tough to see where the goals will come from for Park Kun-ha's boys. It could well be another tight contest between these two teams, with both sides settling for a draw.

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