Guangzhou Evergrande v Beijing Guoan | Saturday 4th May 2019, 12:35 | Sky Sports
The Chinese Super League is very much back in full swing as we now enter the eighth round of fixtures. Whilst we are early into the campaign, we have a top two encounter to look forward to this weekend, and one which could easily remain in place until the very end. This is also second against fourth from last year.
Evergrande have a won six, lost one record, but Guoan have a perfect seven from seven to protect. This undoubtedly in their toughest test so far, having had a relatively easy first run of games. It promises to be an exciting encounter at the Tianhe Stadium.
The natural expectation when most think about these two sides is goals. They are both regulars near the top of the table after all. However, it will therefore surprise many to hear that the team with the lowest average goals to game ratio so far in the Chinese Super League is indeed Guangzhou Evergrande.
Their seven clashes has averaged only 2.00. Remember, they are managed by former Italian centre back Fabio Cannavaro, so naturally there will be a defensive edge to them. Having said that, they were the only side in the league last season to score 80+ goals, when finishing as runners-up to Shanghai SIPG.
Beijing Guoan however are very much the entertainers so far. Head coach Roger Schmidt, formerly of Bayer Leverkusen and Red Bull Salzburg, is known for his attractive brand of high-tempo football and he has successfully translated that into the Chinese game. With the likes of Renato Augusto and Jonathan Viera taking leading roles, the team already have 16 goals to their name, making them the highest-scorers in the league. Also, they’ve conceded only twice; also the best in the division.
It is worth noting that these two sides have also been negotiating the AFC Champions League alongside their league campaign so far. Both are currently in position to qualify from their respective groups with only two matches left to play, with each placed in second place as things stand. Guangzhou travel to Japan in midweek, whilst Beijing welcome the highly successful Jeonbuk to the Workers’ Stadium, but both are eager to be top of their domestic league going into the next game.
As mentioned, goals are the natural instinct when thinking about these two and I feel as though the bookies will follow suit. I think there will be some value in backing against goals in this one. Seven of the last 12 meetings has ended below 2.50 goals.
Also, think is a fixture Guangzhou have generally had the better of for a while now. Guoan have won only twice in their last 16 H2H. They’ve only ever won once away in this battle, that coming in 2014.
Guangzhou Evergrande Double Chance and Under 4 Goals is a good 6/5 price on the bet builder (Bet365).
Slovan Liberec v Slavia Prague | Saturday 4th May 2019, 19:00
We’re now going into the Championship Group in the Czech top-flight, with Slavia Prague being the regular season victors. They hold a four-point advantage over Plzen, meaning that every point is vital if they are to win their fifth 1. Liga title; their last coming in 2017.
Slavia's form has wobbled a bit of late, but that was alongside them negotiating an excellent run to the Europa League quarter-finals, where they gave Chelsea a scare when netting three times at Stamford Bridge. However, they’re now back on track, winning their last two, including 3-0 over rivals Sparta Prague to progress into the final of the domestic cup competition.
Liberec, on the flip side, have been a model of inconsistency this season in terms of results – a record of W11-D9-L10 reflects that. Only a stronger head-to-head record with Mlada Boleslav allowed them to compete in the top six, with both finishing on 42 points. That is 30 points shy of Slavia at the top, which highlights the real difference between the two outfits.
However, whilst Liberec have been inconsistent in one sense, they have been incredibly consistent in another. Which is that 63% of their league encounters have finished below the 2.50 goal line. This meant that their matches across the campaign averaged only 2.00 so far, which is the lowest of any side in the division. Therefore, if goals are your thing, then Liberec probably aren’t the side to watch.
So whilst there is ultimately a 30-point difference between these two, it hasn’t necessarily lead to many one-sided affairs when they have faced off. Slavia have claimed four points over Liberec so far, but 1-0 and 1-1 were the final scores on those occasions. In fact, none of the last nine clashes between these two has contained a minimum of four goals.
Motivation could be a bit of a factor in this one. For all that Liberec would love to get one over the current number one team in the country, the reality is that it would take an unbelievably heroic effort for them to qualify for European competition next season. Fourth spot would be the minimum they’d need to finish, and they have a nine-point gap to overcome.
Considering how inconsistent they are, it is unlikely. Slavia ultimately are heavily involved in a two-way battle at the summit. A four-point cushion is nice, but it was a lot bigger at one point in the season. The feeling is that they could go on another run having won their last two. They’ve had some very lengthy winning and unbeaten run earlier on.
As we’ve said already, games involving Liberec aren’t likely to witness too many goals. Slavia’s matches have averaged 3.20, which is one of the highest in the league, but the run of meetings versus Liberec suggests that the opposition can certainly make life considerably tough.
That is why I am just slightly against backing Slavia Prague to win outright here. I don’t think they’ll lose however. The play is Slavia Prague Double Chance and Under 3 Goals at 10/11, again on the bet builder (Bet365).