Guangzhou Evergrande v Shanghai SIPG | Saturday 23rd November 2019, 11:35
The Chinese Super League is very much on the line this weekend as the top two take to the field with only three games remaining. Guangzhou Evergrande lead the table by only one point, with nearest rivals Shanghai SIPG hoping to gate-crash the party. The two square off on Saturday in a game which is ultimately being billed as a title decider.
Shanghai SIPG won their first and only league title last season but the seven seasons prior to that all went the way of Evergrande. If you haven’t been aware of the Guangzhou story this season then you’ve missed a few intriguing tales.
The visitors are under the management of Italian stalwart Fabio Cannavaro, but was recently given a vote of confidence despite leading the league. He was briefly replaced as manager by a player so he could attend a ‘corporate culture class’. The club did have a change of heart about sacking him, but has been told to effectively do more.
Their run of form has ultimately led to this concern from the club board. Evergrande have won just one of their last nine in all competitions, which has seen their lead at the top slip, whilst also being knocked out of the AFC Champions League.
SIPG recently had a poor run of their own, too. They went winning just two in ten in all competitions, which also saw them knocked out of the AFC Champions League and Chinese FA Cup. However, they’ve now won three in succession, including away at third in the table Beijing Guoan, who themselves are involved in the title race by sitting on 61-points.
A draw on Saturday would open up the door for Guoan to potentially stroll to the title, but if there is a winner in our focused game then they really should go on to lift the crown. I for one cannot back Guangzhou Evergrande at all in this one, regardless of if Cannavaro is indeed working harder or not. They do possess the likes of Paulinho and Anderson Talisca, but recent results just do not lie. SIPG have Hulk, Oscar and Marko Arnautovic pulling the strings, and they are the value call this weekend.
At a price of 67/25 (Marathon) I am more than prepared to take a punt of Shanghai SIPG winning this weekend. They enter this as the form side and being away from home here might actually suit them better as they’re such a threat on the break, as demonstrated when recently winning away at Evergrande in a cup tie.
In fact, SIPG has won four of the last five head-to-head renewals, including the last three away. Evergrande has also failed to score in three of their last five at home, which in unforgivable given the players they got and the money they’ve spent compared to most.
Deportivo La Coruna v Alcorcon | Saturday 23rd November 2019, 17:00
Ask any football supporter of their memories of Deportivo La Coruna and most will generally point in the direction of them winning La Liga in 2000 and a few years later going on some mazy runs in the UEFA Champions League. It is fair to say that the days of Roy Makaay and Diego Tristan leading the line are very much a thing of the past.
The club are simply amidst a period of decline and have been for a few years now. It was hoped that last season would signal the start of a revival, but losing that two-legged promotion play-off to Mallorca has left them in a loop that they’re just not able to get out of. They currently sit bottom of the Spanish second-tier, winning just one of their opening 16 games.
Alcorcon therefore travel very much believing in themselves to record an away win at Abanca-Riazor, which remains a big deal despite the fact the home team aren’t pulling up any trees these days. Alcorcon has spent the last nine seasons in this league, best managing a fourth place finish in 2011/12. They’ve been very much a mid-table team ever since, but they’re enjoying a bit of a push this season and a win on Saturday would likely push them into a play-off position.
This league, as many will no doubt know, is something of a draw specialists division and you can be sure that every weekend there are quite a few draws among the list of results. Racing Santander have incredible drawn 10 of their 16 games, whilst Deportivo have seven and Alcorcon have six. The difference is Alcorcon have five more wins and are 14-points better off going into the weekend.
Therefore, the only reason I can see the bookies price Deportivo as favourites is purely because it is Deportivo. They’ve won one game all season, one! That was on the opening day as well! They’re therefore three months without a win and although they need to start picking up points, I don’t think the negotiated price should necessarily mean they’ll just turn it on at some point.
Alcorcon are very solid and have lost only four games this season. They’re enjoying a six-game unbeaten run and also possess the only unbeaten away record in the division, winning three of drawing five of their eight. Those draws indicates that they’ll look to be hard to beat first and foremost, but they’ll also try to take advantage of the worst defence in the league in Deportivo.
Considering they have drew so many, I’m not prepared to back them outright but I do like Alcorcon Double Chance at 83/100 (Marathon). Deportivo are only favourites purely on name, and home advantage hasn’t been an advantage to them for a while now.