Can­navaro’s team fac­ing crunch time

Tough bat­tles ahead for Ever­grande

Global Times - - Sports -

Fabio Can­navaro’s Guangzhou Ever­grande face a crit­i­cal five days that could go a long way to­ward de­cid­ing who wins the Chi­nese Su­per League’s (CSL) most closely con­tested ti­tle race in years.

The stakes could hardly be higher for the Ital­ian World Cup win­ner, as fail­ure to steer Ever­grande to an eighth suc­ces­sive CSL crown would put his job un­der se­vere scru­tiny af­ter only a year in charge.

With a third of the sea­son left, Bei­jing Guoan lead the CSL, two points clear of Shang­hai SIPG and three ahead of Ever­grande – and with a game in hand over both. Can­navaro’s side host the cap­i­tal club on Fri­day know­ing they could go top with vic­tory, then travel to SIPG on Tues­day.

The ti­tle chase is too close to call but Ever­grande have im­pe­tus af­ter drag­ging them­selves back into con­tention thanks largely to the July loan sign­ings of Brazil­ian mid­field­ers Paulinho, from Barcelona, and An­der­son Talisca, from Ben­fica.

Ever­grande needed a 91st-minute win­ner to de­feat mid-ta­ble Shang­hai Shen­hua 2-1 in their last match.

“The sup­port­ers hope to win ev­ery game 4-0 or 5-0,” said the for­mer world player of the year, af­ter Ever­grande’s last­gasp vic­tory.

“But for­tu­nately we are still in the ti­tle race and have not been left be­hind.”

Can­navaro, Italy’s cap­tain and de­fen­sive stal­wart in their 2006 World Cup vic­tory, will hope that his do­mes­tic play­ers do not suf­fer a han­gover from the in­ter­na­tional break.

Three of his men started China’s drab 0-0 draw with Bahrain on Mon­day, a hugely dis­ap­point­ing re­sult which sparked an­other bout of soul-search­ing about the un­der­achiev­ing na­tional side.

That fol­lowed a sim­i­larly de­mor­al­iz­ing 1-0 de­feat to Qatar, but Can­navaro said in the buildup that play­ing for China un­der his fel­low Ital­ian coach Mar­cello Lippi would be ben­e­fi­cial for his play­ers – “to hear a dif­fer­ent voice other than mine.”

Ever­grande go into the clash with Guoan in ram­pag­ing form, win­ning eight of their last nine CSL matches and av­er­ag­ing nearly four goals per game.

Only Guoan have scored more goals this sea­son but Roger Sch­midt’s side are un­con­vinc­ing at the back, sug­gest­ing that a goalfest could be in the off­ing for an an­tic­i­pated crowd of about 50,000.

Photo: VCG

Guangzhou Ever­grande’s An­der­son Talisca cel­e­brates scor­ing against Shan­dong Luneng in their Chi­nese Su­per League match on Au­gust 25 in Ji’nan, Shan­dong Province.

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