India vs China: Know your opponent - China's FIFA Ranking, manager, formation and players to watch out for
We can expect some fireworks when the Indian National football team takes on China at the Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium in Suzhou City on October 13. Loyal Indian fans will be anxiously waiting for the clock to strike 5 pm on Saturday as they know they have a good chance of witnessing history.
Stephen Constantine has handpicked a 22-member squad for the all-important International friendly. The Blue Tigers have never been able to overpower The Dragons in their entire history. 12 out of their 17 matches between the two neighbouring nations have been won by China while 5 ended in a stalemate.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is expected to guard the Indian goal, while there are a plethora of excellent options at the back -- with Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodika, Subhasish Bose, and Narayan Das all in the squad. Udanta Singh, Nikhil Poojary, Ashique Kuruniyan, Halicharan Narzary, and Rowllin Borges are some of the prominent names in the Indian midfield.
The attack is expected to be led by captain Sunil Chhetri with the Mizo sniper Jeje Lalpekhlua by his side. The Indian team will be seen in action after lifting the trophy of the 4-nation Intercontinental Cup -- in which they had squared off with Kenya, New Zealand, and Chinese Taipei.
The Indian squad is known to all and many can also somewhat predict the starting line-ups Constantine will go with. However, the unanswered questions in the back of the mind are -- How is the Chinese team ranked? Who are their prominent players? How has their performance been in the recent past? Who is their coach?
In this article, we will aim to answer all these questions.
China PR are currently ranked 76th in FIFA Rankings, sandwiched between Zambia at 75 and Lebanon at 77.
Who is China's coach?
The 76th ranked Chinese team is currently coached by Marcello Lippi, who took charge in October 2016. The former Italian footballer is one of the biggest names in the football coaching World.
He began his coaching career was back in 1982 and has since managed prominent clubs such as Napoli, Juventus, and Internazionale amongst many others. The highlight of his career came when he was the coach of the national team of Italy which went on to lift the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
The 70-year-old has led many clubs to multiple titles. Five Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, four Italian Supercups, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Supercup -- these are just a glimpse of his achievements.
He is known to bring unity between the players of the team he manages and make them function like one large family. The world adores Lippi for his tactical prowess and coaching skills that impart a winning mentality to the team. Out of the 20 matches Lippi has managed The Dragons, they have won 6, drawn 6, and lost 8.
The most fundamental 4-4-2 formation is what Lippi likes to go with usually. However, there have been alterations made in the past according to the opposition and 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 are some of the other formations the coach has experimented with.
Performances in the recent past?
Here are China's results in their previous 11 encounters:
- Defeated Thailand 2-0 in an International friendly on 2 June 2018.
- Defeated Myanmar 1-0 in an International friendly on 26 May 2018.
- Lost to Czech Republic (1-4) during China Cup on 26 March 2018.
- Lost to Wales (0-6) during the China Cup on 22 March 2018.
- Drew 1-1 with North Korea during the EAFF E-1 Football Championship on 16 December 2017.
- Lost to Japan (1-2) during the EAFF E-1 Football Championship on 12 December 2017.
- Drew 2-2 with South Korea during the 2017 EAFF E-1 Football Championship on 9 December 2017.
- Lost to Columbia (0-4) in an International friendly on 14 November 2017.
- Lost to Serbia (0-2) in an International friendly on 10 November 2017.
- Defeated Qatar 2-1 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification on 5 September 2017.
- Defeated Uzbekistan 1-0 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification on 31 August 2017.
Out of the previous 11 International matches played, China have won 4, drawn 2, and lost 5. However, the fact that they played against football powerhouses such as Serbia and Columbia is in itself a big deal.
The Chinese Super League -- which is the domestic league of China -- sees some of the biggest names in world football. The Chinese players are sure to learn a lot from players such as Oscar and Hulk as they bring invaluable experience to the table. The heavy investments made in the domestic league seem to have paid off improving the level of the national team -- which is a formidable unit now.