Chinese column: The Chinese Derby

Beijing played well in the first half – Shenhua is still not playing very well, but the team just keeps on getting their points and Sunday evening they won the China Derby.

I was impressed by Beijing in the first half on Hongkou Sunday evening. Even without some of their best players and with an ACL disappointment from Tuesday in their mind. The team was passing well, lot of possession, and will some fine movement in the offensive part of the pitch.

They came close twice – after the same model – when a ball from the right side was played deep in the room behind the left central defender of Shenhua, but bad finishing was a problem for Beijing, and their coach Stanojevic probably missed Frederic Kanoute this rainy evening in Shanghai.

Their main problem this season has been to score goals with only 15 goals in 11 matches so far. And Kanoute has an age now where he can’t play every game. He will pick up small injuries and needs breaks from time to time due to his physic, so Stanojevic needs to find a solid replacement. Number 8 Guerron is an important player with his amazing speed, but he will never be a top scorer type, who scores 20 goals in a season. He is not clinical enough or calm enough, when he gets the chance in front of the goal.

Shenhua mostly trying with long and direct balls. In their line-up they picked number 9 Dady together with number 11 Firas, which gave Shenhua a target player in the air, and this was a clear game plan for Shenhua to hit Dady and then win the second ball.

In the last 45.minutes the quality of the game slowly disappeared, and it looked like a 0-0 game, when Moreno headed in the only goal. I still don’t think Moreno is a suitable captain, because he is playing for himself before he thinks of the team, but his skills in the air are top quality. Only a few defenders can reach him in the air, perfect timing and he can hit the ball with a lot of power as well.

A similar goal like the one against SIPG, so now the opponents should be aware. Moreno cannot be free at the far post together with a left full back, who have no chance in the air against the tall Colombian. In the rest of the game, Beijing almost produced nothing. Really disappointing and I would be worried if I was the Head Coach of Beijing. Before the season they said they could challenge for the Championship, and after 11 games, they are 12 points Evergrande, and on Wednesday, Lippi’s boys can make it 15 points when they face Guizhou.

And Shenhua got revenge for their horrible cup game in the midweek, where they lost against a 3. Division team. And the CSL team is still not playing very well, but respect for their team spirit, moral, and ability to almost always get a point or three no matter what. This is also quality in football.


If we also count the cup game from last week, then it is impressive that Shanghai Shenxin has three wins and one draw in the last four games with a minimum budget. Great respect for their work and position in the league table.

Personally I really like number 33 Zhu Baojie, who is a modern midfielder. Good turnings, also orientation, and with solid passes and decision making with both feet. Together with number 21 Liu Junnan, Shenxin have two very interesting young players for the future.

Shandong is still looking as the only real competition for Evergrande this season, and Head Coach Antic has really build up a solid team with speed, agility, power and flair in the offensive part of the pitch with Wang Yongpo, Hang Peng, and Macena as the dangerous and creating types.

In this weekend, I was personally impressed by Qingdao, who beat East Asia 1-0. The home side played well and were almost in control during the entire game. Number 24 Gabriel Melkam is one of the best defensive midfielders in the CSL. Almost supporting his defense, always moving, strong in the body and with safe and constructive passes. All teams in modern football need a type like him. And in the offense, Bruno Meneghel, has done well with his 5 goals so far.

And also number 10 Zheng Long could be a potential player moving abroad. He has some of the skills that all European clubs are looking for in a winger-type.

Finally, I am very happy that Wu Lei finally is called up for the Chinese National Team. Some of you thought I was too fast when I wrote early in the season, that Wu Lei was good enough for the national team, but the young man has been fantastic this season so far, and he is one of the future stars in China.