Beijing Guoan go into their clash with Brisbane Roar as virtually qualified for the Asian Champions League Knockout Stage, but that won’t stop them taking three points against the Aussie club.
The home team will as always be cheered on by around 40,000 Beijing-ites, and though they are currently experiencing a mini funk (drawn last 3 matches), they’re still undefeated in their last 21 matches.
Meanwhile, Brisbane will be fighting for their Asian Champions League lives. Of most concern for the Australians is their casualty list. Influential centre back Luke Devere is out, Shane Stefanutto is out, and along with that, Jade North will be nursing a dodgy groin, if he makes the field. Had it not been for this, I would have said Brisbane were good value.
The Roar have definitely placed some importance on this fixture, evidenced by their decision to rest a throng of players for last Saturday’s Melbourne Victory clash. Those missing in action included: Broich, McKay, Brattan, Borello and ‘the slippery fish’ Henrique.
Young defender Daniel Bowles who recently returned from injury described the dressing room, “All the boys are buzzing and we will be going out there and giving it our all.” Brisbane certainly have plenty of motivation, as their previous appearances in the competition have yielded little, but no one wants to go into a big match with an understrength back four.
A patched up Brisbane did a commendable job against Muscat’s Melbourne on Saturday, but being tested against unfamiliar opponents should prove too much. Not only will Brisbane face some of China’s best in Yu, Dabao and Song, Boxuan, they’ll also face off against classy Montenegrin Dejan Damjanovic and midfielder Pablo Batalla.
On a freezing cold night in Saitama two weeks ago Beijing Guoan looked anything but champions, still they managed to grind out a draw against Urawa. On Tuesday night, at home, at the Workers Stadium, Beijing will be up for it.
The green team have been looking on jealously for the last four years as Chinese rivals, Guangzhou Evergrande have taken all before them. This year could be the year that Beijing stamps their mark on continental football.