Football Tribe SEA Editor
Thai League champions Chiangrai United are set for a landmark occasion this evening, as they host their first AFC Champions League group stage match at the Singha Stadium, welcoming Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan.
Chiangrai come into this game having narrowly lost their opening game away against Melbourne Victory, with their defensive performance not enough to keep the Australian side at bay. The Beetles could also be potentially fatigued as this would be their third game in just seven days, having also played their domestic season opener against Samut Prakan City last Friday night.
This will be Beijing’s first competitive game of the season, after their opening group stage match against FC Seoul was postponed due to concerns about the outbreak of the coronavirus in China. Additionally, the Chinese Super League has been postponed indefinitely due to public health concerns, which has further disrupted Bruno Genesio’s men.
Beijing did the double over 2018’s Thai League champions Buriram United in last season’s competition, winning 2-0 at home and 3-1 away. However, their failure to win any of their other four remaining games saw them finish the group stage on seven points, not enough to stop Jeonbuk Hyundai and Urawa Red Diamonds from progressing to the next round.
Both sides will be eager to collect all three points in this game, but it remains to be seen whether Chiangrai United will stick to their defensive posture or aim to take a more expansive approach. Having never hosted a team of this stature before, this match will represent unchartered waters for the Thai League champions and could reveal a lot about their approach this season.