比赛时间:2017年10月29日15:00
地点:秦皇岛奥体中心 直播:广东体育
262012.04

For years, Chinese fans have endured little but disappointment in the AFC Champions League, with their clubs struggling to even progress beyond the group stage. Indeed, the last time a Chinese Super League side took the competition by storm was in 2005, when an unfancied Shenzhen Jianlibao side swept past the likes of Suwon Bluewings and Al Ahli to reach the last four.

With Guangzhou Evergrande's meteoric rise, however, the faithful from the world's most populous country finally have something to cheer about in the continental arena. Despite this being their first experience of the Asian showpiece, the Chinese champions have proved to be one of the tournament's biggest surprise packages, dominating a formidable group which also features 2006 winners Jeonbuk Motors, Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol and Buriram United of Thailand.

With seven points from four games, including a 5-1 victory at Jeonbuk in the opener, the eye-catching Evergrande enjoy a solitary-point lead ahead of both the K-League champions and Buriram. A home win against Jeonbuk in their penultimate fixture next Tuesday is likely to see them seal early progression, although the Chinese hopefuls have set their sights beyond that, with an ambitious target of winning the Champions League within five years.

"We are now group leaders and the good showing should be attributed to the efforts of everyone, from coach to players," club president Mr Liu Yongzhuo told FIFA.com in a recent exclusive interview. "Of course, our strong financial support, the players' hunger for success and management all contributed to making this happen. Our target is to reach the quarter-finals at least and, ideally, to make it to the semi-finals."

Dream line-up

Guangzhou's impressive performance in the Champions League came on the back of their fairy tale domestic campaign last season, during which they became the first newly-promoted side to win China’s top flight. However, it has been in this debut in Asia’s premier competition that they have really captured the continent’s imagination.

Although the Chinese first-timers were on the receiving end in a 2-1 stunner against Buriram after stunning group and tournament favourites Jeonbuk, they bounced back in style to register four points against Kashiwa in the back-to-back encounters (0-0 and 3-1) to move to within touching distance of qualification.

Our target is to reach the quarter-finals at least and, ideally, to make it to the semi-finals.

Club president Mr Liu Yongzhuo

Guiding the team is experienced Korean coach Lee Sang-Soo, who took over at Guangzhou in 2010. The former Ilhwa Chunma boss also has nearly one-third of the Chinese national team line-up at his disposal, with former Charlton and Celtic midfielder Zheng Zhi the most notable.

Capturing most attention, of course, is the club’s on-song foreign forward line of Argentinian Dario Conca and Brazilians Muriqui and Cleo, all of whom have been on target thrice so far to share second place in the Champions League scoring chart. Two-time Brazilian Player of the Year Conca was signed midway through last season and proved an immediate success, with nine goals and seven assists in just 13 appearances. Muriqui, for his part, was the team's most consistent contributor throughout the previous year, finishing as top scorer with 16 goals, while Cleo – not to be outdone - also racked up ten goals despite occasional injuries.

And it was not only their entertaining style of play, but also their work-rate that has left viewers mesmerised. Conca certainly provided the attacking spark against Jeonbuk with his dangerous passes and spectacular goals, while Muriqui was unstoppable against Kashiwa, enjoying a hand in all three of his team’s goals.

Admiration and respect

Even after his side’s humbling defeat, Jeonbuk coach Lee Heung-Sil still made a point of paying tribute to Guangzhou's attacking trio. "They are all very good," he said, "They create loads of chances and score good goals." Kashiwa coach Nelson Baptista even cut a relieved figure after his side escaped a home defeat in a game largely dominated by their Chinese rivals. "I am satisfied with the goalless draw because Guangzhou are a good team,” he said. “I don't see this as two points dropped, but as a point won."

With expectations still mounting, Muriqui remains all too aware there are stern tests ahead. "It is hard to win a game while playing entertaining football," said the Brazilian goal-getter, "No team can maintain a perfect record - even Barcelona and Real Madrid lose sometimes. But our recent showings are indeed a timely boost and we are confident of retaining the league title and getting a good result in Champions League."

近年来中国球迷长久以来都不得不在失望中坚守亚冠联赛,因为来自中超的球队即便是为了获得一个小组出线机会都不得不垂死挣扎,而上一次来自中超的球队在这一洲际赛场上刮起风暴时还要追溯到2005年,当时"毫不起眼的"深圳健力宝一路击退水原三星和阿尔阿赫利跻身半决赛。

不过,随着广州恒大在中超乃至亚冠赛场的崛起,中国球迷终于可以在亚冠联赛这一洲际赛场上欢呼雀跃了:“随着广州恒大的疾速崛起,这个全球人口最多的国家终于可以在洲际赛场上呐喊助威了,即便他们是首次出现在亚洲舞台,但是中国冠军在与2006赛季亚冠冠军全北现代、日本冠军柏太阳神以及泰国的武里南联队的恐怖小组中占据了统治地位,已经证明了他们是整个亚冠赛场上的最大惊喜之一。”

在已经结束的四场亚冠小组赛中,揭幕战中5-1战胜全北现代的广州恒大已经取得7分,并且以1分的优势领先K联赛冠军和武里南独居榜首,因此只要在下周二(5月1日)主场与全北现代的比赛中获胜,中超冠军就将提前晋级淘汰赛,但广州恒大的目标并不只是在于这点,广州恒大董事长刘永灼直言:“我们现在已经是小组的领头羊,这样好的表现都归功于教练组和球员全体成员,当然也与俱乐部的强大经济支持、球员对成功的极度渴望以及教练组为实现这一成绩所作的贡献都离不开的。我们此番的目标至少是要跻身八强,当然如果能跻身半决赛自然更加完美。”

尽管广州恒大在亚洲顶级赛场上是首次亮相,但是延续了上个赛季在中超联赛中“神话故事”般出色表现的他们已经牢牢俘获了整个亚洲足坛的想象空间,即便是他们击溃夺冠热门全北现代之后在主场被武里南联队2-1击败,仍然凭借接下来与日本冠军的“背靠背战役”中夺得的4分,让小组出线变得触手可及。

至于广州恒大之所以能在亚冠赛场上掀起恒大旋风,这归功于广州恒大球员的绝对实力。从2010年入主广州恒大以来,曾经执教过城南一和的韩国名帅李章洙麾下拥有将近1/3的中国国家队主力,而前查尔顿和凯尔特人中场球员郑智则是他们当中最有名气的。

当然,真正吸引绝大部分人的注意力的是他们阵中由阿根廷球员孔卡、巴西球员穆里奇和克莱奥组成的状态出色的南美进攻群,他们三人同时都以3个进球并列射手榜第二位:上赛季中期才加盟的两度巴西MVP一来就立马取得成功,在13场比赛中就贡献了9个进球7次助攻,而上赛季贡献了16个进球的最佳射手穆里奇则自始至终都为球队持续贡献,即便是经常伤病不断的克莱奥也贡献了10个进球。不单单是他们的艺术性踢球的风格,而且他们的工作效率更让所有观众都眼花缭乱,在与全北现代的比赛中孔卡用他的威胁传球和两个壮观进球证明了他进攻核心的位置,而在与柏太阳神的比赛中穆里奇则是无法阻挡的,全部三个进球都出自他之手(创造1点球并攻入2球)。

广州恒大在亚冠赛场上的出色表现也为他们赢得了亚洲对手主帅们的频频赞誉:全北现代主帅李兴实就发出了“他们都很出色,他们创造了大量机会并且攻入了很多精彩的进球”的感叹,而柏太阳神主帅内尔森在主场与广州恒大0-0战平时更是用“我并不认为这是丢掉了2分,反而我们是赢得了1分”来形容主场作战的日本冠军所处的被动局面。

尽管集万千期望于一身,但穆里奇仍强调球队还有更艰辛的道路要走:“攻势足球有的时候要赢得比赛并非易事,没有球队能百分百获胜,即便是巴萨和皇马有的时候也会失利。不过我们近来的适时爆发也让我们对于卫冕联赛冠军和在亚冠赛场上取得佳绩充满了自信。”