Tuesday, October 02, 2012


 Four match previews in the daily email today .....



I have been waiting for Daggers to win a game and they got that breakthrough win at home to Wycombe Wanderers on saturday, they had been buoyed by a 2-2 draw at highflying Rochdale before that , albeit the match turning on a dismissal to a Dale defender and impressed at the weekend cruising home 3-0. The result was worthy of extra note as the visitors were said to be pumped up playing for interim boss Gareth Ainsworth and the mood in the visiting camp was very good, less so at around 17.00 . Dagenham have been creating a lot of chances before their maiden win and 108 attempts sees them top six in League 2 and averaging four per game more than Vale, who are 18 places and 12 points higher in the "real" league table.  It is possible to read too much into these "attempts"stats, but they are a decent starting point if you feel a team has been playing better than bare results might suggest. Vale are a biggish club with potential at this level, but have had some horrendous off the pitch problems in recent seasons and they currently remain in administration, they have done really well so far and recorded an eyecatching 1-0 win at Bradford City over the weekend, who were previously 100% ( 4 from 4 ) on home soil, but that was very much a rearguard action and on another day City could have scored 3-4 goals. Visting boss John Still has been in charge at Victoria Road for eight years and is very well respected with a LOT of contacts in the game, funds are always tight at the club and he uses the loan market to fantastic effect and regularly unearths a few gems from non league football, where has spent almost all his career. Still was finally able to name a full strength team on Saturday ,Billy Bingham was brought back into central midfield which allowed Abu Ogogo to return to his usual right back position and Dwight Gayle was also restored up front and opened the scoring. This was the first time they have not had to play someone out of position and they looked a top ten, as opposed to bottom six team and we should keep them on our side for the time being. 1.5 units Dagenham & Redbridge +0.75 ball 1.88 asian line..... odds just down from 1.94 but I still like this bet, 3.25-3.40 for the draw no bet option is also attractive.



This is a very interesting match up between two time winner and vastly experienced Al Ittihad who are looking to secure a fifth AFC Champions League semi-final appearance in eight years and potential big player, but new kid on the block in international terms, Guangzhou Evergrande. The hosts trail 4-2 from the first leg where they led twice and showed plenty, but simply ran out of steam . They were short of some key players for that match and will be boosted today by the return from suspension of key defensive players in centreback Zhang Linpeng and holding midfielder Zhao Xuri, the young duo have 76 starts for the national team between them and are amongst the first names on the team sheet. Also, for the first leg, coach Marcello Lippi ( yes, that one !) felt many of his squad were left jaded after playing for their national team in matches in Sweden and Brazil immediately before the match in Jeddah, flying home to China and then on to Saudi, which is a brutal schedule.He also lost Brazilian striker Muriqui to injury during the game and not a lot went their way that day. Lippi was concerned about the lack of protection his players got in Saudi, something I have seen previously and he said " I think Ittihad had an aggressive attitude and the referee let a lot of plays go, but hopefully at home this won’t happen so much.” The big crowd will put a lot of pressure on the match officials and we might see more decisions go the way of the Chinese side today.We spoke of Guangzhou ahead of their match with FC Tokyo some months back ....


We have discussed FC Tokyo twice recently, ahead of their final group game against Ulsan two weeks ago and again on Saturday when they hosted Urawa Reds, they played quite well in Korea, but were fortunate to get a share of the spoils in the second and looked a little weary. They are newly promoted back to the J-League 1 and also competing in the Champions League for the first time, the much higher level of competition and huge distances travelled (they will already have clocked up 27,000 km in the CL alone by tomorrow night) , is going to take it's toll at some stage and I believe we are now seeing the early stages of that. Japanese clubs have done increasingly poorly in this competition in recent years, usually coming up short once we reach the knockout stage, only one has made the last eight in the last two campaigns and they came through an all Japanese last 16 round game and then conceded nine goals in the quarter final, the other four clubs that made the last 16, all lost without scoring a goal. I think we will see Tokyo eliminated today if the hosts put their best foot forward, we talked yesterday about how big home advantage is at this stage and FGT meet a very motivated and ambitious opponent today.

Chinese companies have started to "throw" money at the sport and Guangzhou have received massive investment from the Evergrande Real Estate. They have spent money like water, signing arguably three of the very top domestic players in Gao Lin, Sun Xiang and Zheng Zhi, two of whom have played for big european clubs and with some 200 international appearrances between the trio. They then spent big on the Brazilian trio, Paulao, Muriqui and Cleo, another $10m on Dario Conca the Argentine playmaker from Fluminense , where he was voted Brazilian footballer of the year. They have recently completed the paperwork to sign Lucas Barrios next month, which takes the spending on that international quintet to circa $35m and a similar amount on yearly salaries, Conca is said to be on $200k per week !

The club had fallen on hard times and down to League 1, before the new owners stepped in ,but the first wave of new signings helped them win that easily and last year, their first back in the top flight, they won  Super league by a massive 15 points, they are already top once again after just 12 games, but now desire an international title. To that end, Marcello Lippi has been brought in as coach on a contract worth over 10m euros per year , nice work if you can get it at pensionable age ! The four South American players are waaaay too good to be playing at this level and whilst Conca has been a little too outspoken at times (which got him in trouble with the previous boss, although Lippi wiped that slate and suspension clean) , they have all looked pretty committed to the cause, not just here for a paycheque and unplayable at times, like in the incredible impressive 5-1 win at Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors ( they would have comfortably beaten any team in Asia that day). Inconsistency has been a problem at times, especially when they have expected to win against lesser opponents, but Lippi has been brought in to sort that out and they should have enough to see FCT off today, easily if things go well. Original line was higher, but I couldn't put this up on Sunday night for a variety of reasons, so not a max bet, but I really like this, so .

They will be without Muriqui upfront , but Lucas Barrios, Cleo and Dario Conca are all prolific goalscorers and more than capable of taking the chances that will surely come their way. The visitors might be tempted to try and sit on their two goal advantage, to be honest, that would be perfect as they are offensively minded usually and not really set up to play on the back foot. Al Ittihad coach Raul Caneda seems well aware of the huge potential the hosts have and said “We will play against a new giant in football,China is a new giant that is starting to appear and Guangzhou has been the leader of football in China in the last two years, I think the Chinese league in the next year will be the best league in Asia and in four or five years it will be one of the important leagues in the world, so they have a lot of possibilities." Guangzhou captain Zheng Zhi,seemed in confident mood on Sunday saying “We have every chance of going through and reversing the result of the first leg, so I and all the players are confident we will win this match.” I definitely feel they can edge this match and if they show half the slick passing and shoot on sight policy we saw in the 5-1 win in South Korea against Jeonbuk LINK they might still turn this tie around, bonus is that the visitors will be happy to lose by a single goal.1.25 units Guangzhou Evergrande -0.75 ball 1.92 asian line.

Good Luck.
Contact: gowi8@btinternet.com

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