Chinese column: Dalian and Liaoning

It is yet another interesting week of the CSL. A good top match between Evergrande and Beijing, but I will leave this one for now, because most of you readers watched it. Instead I will focus on other things and analyze the top teams and their performances in the ACL in my column for next week.

I was impressed by the first half by Liaoning at Hongkou Stadium Saturday evening. Of course a young and inexperienced Shenhua team without the Argentinians, but still Liaoning came and played with confidence, patience and modern passing style.

I especially liked number 9 Zhao Junzhe, who have a very central position in the team. Always coming down to pick up the ball from the defenders in the building up face. Zhao Junzhe has a solid passing foot and distributes the balls very good and safe – a key player.

Liaoning way to the goal is the classic one, where the team is playing short passes to get the opponents forward and then they play the deep ball normally to number 10 Edu or number 14 Trifunović, who has good timing in their deep running and speed to overrun the defenders. A simple but effective attacking model. The key is to play short to get the opponents attention and then play deep to surprise them. If you play deep from your own back four – then it is very easy for the defenders to read the pass and win the ball. You need to get them in unbalance first.

Number 10 Edu also got a great level, when he works on his own. Strong in the body, pretty fast, and with a good left foot – he also created trouble and also this Saturday at Hongkou. These players are very important for all teams. Remember FC Barcelona – who everyone loves right now. Famous for their football style and great possession, but I did analyze of their goals and FC Barcelona only scores when a player on his own goes past an opponent and creates a good situation with majority – often illustrated with Lionel Messi dribbling past one or two defenders. So even though Barcelona is playing fantastic football – they only score when they win 1vs1 offense situations.

Liaoning also uses what’s called “early crosses”, when they attacks. This means that they don’t go all the way to the goal line before they cross the ball into the box. They often play wide and with two touches the winger hit the cross from 35 meters distance. Often illustrated by number 20 – the right midfielder - Kim Tae-Yan, who hit a lot of early crosses. They positive thing in early crosses is that you catch the defenders running backwards, but the negative is that often it is easy for the keeper to move out and win the ball. You have to hit the early crosses hard and rarely low to get success.

In the end Liaoning should have won the game, but great respect to Shenhua for a fantastic moral keep fighting and getting a point in the end. But 1minute before the 1-2 goal – Liaoning had a counter attack 4 against 2, where they should have killed the game.

Dalian – the no-coach effect

In the north of China – I had some expectations that Dalian could make a good season. They can still make it, but the situation with no coach is not optimal. I have played high level football as well, and it’s difficult to explain, but when a coach disappears something happens in a squad. You just go down 10 % and at top level those 10 % is what creates failure or success.

I liked Dalian’s modern football style last season controlled by Keita and Rochemback and with the flair and efficiency at Utaka. Saturday they played East Asia and was better in 75 % of the match, but didn’t manage to kill it and ended up with a draw.

The defense looked very bad. They played for themselves instead of creating a unit and this is might because they miss a coach.

When the ball goes through Keita Dalian has a good chance to create a chance. The former FC Barcelona player is still a good and very clever player, so if opponents wants to hit Dalian hard – then mark Keita and make Dalian use other solutions than him. In front Peter Utaka – my old friend from Denmark – is still a dangerous striker. Still fast, strong, and with a great finish. On Saturday in some periods – he was on the right and this is NOT his best position. Utaka was leading goal scorer in Denmark as a striker in the left side moving into to the center of the pitch and attacking the defense – he is so difficult to handle when he moves in from the left, so Dalian should put him there – always.

But Dalian should get a coach, so the owner can go back to the office – the players won’t perform 100 % until this happens.

Round up

Wuhan and Guangzhou R&F have now lost their three matches, so a very bad start here. I have analyzed Wuhan, and I saw them again this weekend, and they still need more quality in their passing and possession style. They are still “scared” and have too much panic with the ball.

Respect to Beijing for getting a draw against the giants from Evergrande – it looks like Beijing is the only challenge for Marcello Lippi and Co. this season. I will analyze Beijing in the next coming weeks – an interesting team to watch.

Shandong Luneng and Qingdao Jonoon just keep on going and of course, I will also have a look at them and why they have success.