ACL preview: Western Sydney Wanderers v Guangzhou Evergrande

Western Sydney Wanderers FC have great memories of facing Guangzhou Evergrande, beating the Chinese champions on the way to winning last year’s ACL.

If this clash is as fiery and dramatic as last season’s encounters then a scintillating encounter is in store at Parramatta Stadium. Will the Wanderers continue their love-affair with the ACL or will Fabio Cannavaro’s Guangzhou get some revenge.


Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Parramatta Stadium, Sydney

Kick-Off: 7.30pm (Local), 7.30pm (AEDST)


Western Sydney Wanderers FC A. Covic, D. Bouzanis, S. Cole, N. Topor-Stanley, B. Hamill, A. Golec, M. Spiranovic, D. Alessi, S. Gallaway, Y. Tanaka, I. La Rocca, L. Haliti, Y. Perkatis, R. Castelen, J. Trifiro, A. Fofanah, K. Baccus, N. Kalmar, J. Sotirio, Y. Takahagi, T. Juric, M. Bridge, K. Bulut, N. Rukavytsya, S. Kuzmanovski, T. Heward-Belle, L. Youlley, J. Aspropotamitis, S. D’Cunha

Guangzhou Evergrande Zeng Cheng, Feng Xiatong, Li Xuepeng, Young-Gwon Kim, Mei Fang, Zheng Zhi, Huang Bowen, Yu Hanchao, Elkeson, Alan, Ricardo Goulart, Zou Zheng, Zheng Long, Zhang Jiaqi, Liao Lisheng, Rong Hao, Li Shuai, Zhao Xuri, Dong Chunyu, Zhang Linpeng, Yang Xin, Liu Jian, Gao Lin, Dong Xuesheng, Tan Jiajun, Wang Shangyuan, Ju Feng

Hashtag: #WSWvGZE, #ACL2015

TV Broadcast – Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.30pm (AEDT)


The Wanderers and Guangzhou resume hostilities after a tense meeting last year and expect something similar at Wanderland on Wednesday night. Having made an impressive start on the road last week, the Wanderers will take a giant step towards progression to the knockout rounds – even at this early stage – with a win here. 

But it won’t be easy against a Guangzhou squad blessed with a talented mix of Chinese internationals and with Italian World Cup winning skipper Fabio Cannavaro at the helm. Unlike last season though Guangzhou no longer have their Italian imports Alessandro Diamanti and Alberto Gilardino to torment the Wanderers, swapping the duo for Brazilian pair Alan and Ricardo Goulart. 

These two sides have won the last two ACL titles, with Guangzhou claiming the crown in 2013 before Western Sydney’s incredible march to the championship in November last year.


It will be interesting to see what Popovic does in attack given Kerem Bulut’s form against Sydney FC but Tomi Juric should get the nod. Guangzhou will rely on skipper Zheng Zhi to drive them forward from midfield while imports Elkeson, Coulart and Alan must be stopped if the Wanderers are a chance of victory.


Kerem Bulut. The young striker is back in Australia with a point to prove, just the sort of player Popovic loves to work with. He made the perfect start to his Wanderers career in Saturday night’s derby, scoring twice in an exceptional debut. He’s certainly made a good first impression and that will only get stronger if he can have a similar impact against the Chinese champions.


The Wanderers made the perfect start to their ACL title defence, upsetting J-League giants Kashima Antlers 3-1 in Japan last week. But Tony Popovic’s side was brought back down to earth on the weekend, losing a thrilling Sydney derby in the Hyundai A-League 4-3. 

Guangzhou Evergrande won’t be as battle hardened as the Wanderers having not started their Chinese Super League campaign yet but made a winning start to the ACL, edging out FC Seoul in their first game thanks to Ricardo Goulart’s goal.


Guangzhou’s Brazilian attacker Alan was signed by Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg in 2010 as a replacement for now Sydney FC striker Marc Janko, who left to join Dutch side FC Twente.


Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1-1 Guangzhou Evergrande

Guangzhou left Parramatta last year on the end of a 1-0 defeat and having two players sent off in an ill-tempered end to the match. There’s no doubt that night left them with a sour taste and they will be hugely motivated to turn things around on this occasion. Given their huge budget and quality in the squad they should start warm favourites but the Wanderers always seem to produce something special with their backs against the wall.