In Spanish, a clásico is a big match, like Real Madrid vs Barcelona. Well, this week we played one of China’s clásicos. It was matchday four and Shanghai Shenhua came to the Worker’s Stadium as leader of the Super League. Expectation was at fever pitch, as proven by the new attendance record; nearly 50,000 fans came to see the match and our final victory by 2-0.
Not only did we win, but we also showed our best side, with the team once again playing a really good football game. We have now been undefeated for 18 official matches. This is no small achievement; since all our rivals study us thoroughly, each match becomes increasingly harder. Nevertheless, yesterday’s goals from Darko Matic and Erton Fejzullahu gave us a deserved victory.
The most important aspect of the team’s great performance was the message that we transmitted to the players before the match: in order for the team to attack well, our defenders must be the best, and if we want the team to defend well, we must also attack well. The whole team must work hard and fight for each loose ball throughout the entire game. I think that yesterday our fans left the stadium feeling proud of their team.
We haven’t lost an official match in over 180 days and the next one will be in the AFC Champions League, where we will have a tough game in Japan against Urawa Red Diamonds. A victory would mathematically classify us for the next stage of the competition. We have shown plenty of commitment and energy in previous Champions League matches and our roadmap only contemplates one option: WINNING.
Gregorio Manzano Ballesteros
Head Coach of Beijing Guoan Football Club