Lee Jang Soo’s Shenzhen went to Beijing Guoan’s home to play in the 5th round of the CFA Super League and try to reach the 3rd place. Xie Feng’s men scored early through a corner. Since then, they offered the initiative to Shenzhen by looking only to make a difference in transition, primarily through the conduct of their physically imposing forwards. Starting from 3-5-2, Shenzhen put into practice its positional attack building with three in the first phase and having the midfielders link the game, with Frank Acheampong standing out, linking the midfield to the attack. However, there was a lot of rain, leading to the visiting team’s constant use of direct play, which gave rise to what Beijing was looking for: transitions. Even so, Shenzhen created dangerous situations, which the opposing goalkeeper stopped. The final result, 4-1, did not reflect the game entirely.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, rewatch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Chinese
- Age: 23
- Date of Birth: 27/01/1999
- Club: Shenzhen FC
- Career: Tianjin Tianhai FC, Shenzhen FC
- Position: Right-Back
- Secondary Position: Centre Back
- Preferred Foot: Right
Substituted 45 minutes into the game, Haofeng Xu initially played as an outer centre-back on the right and then, in the same role, on the left. From the start of the game, the 23-year-old defender proved to be the most far-sighted on the field, both in attacking and defensive moments.
In positional attack, Xu somehow ignored the game’s first offensive principle: progression. He didn’t try to carry the ball and make the opponents try to press him. He just played simple passes and tried to find the full backs or the midfielders in the centre who stay behind the first line of the opponent’s pressure. From Beijing’s first defensive line, or they came to pick up the game to organize it head-on. In the passing chapter, Haofeng Xu demonstrated precision in the passes he executed, regardless of where he sent them. However, it remained to be seen if he could make a difference in progressing the ball. Even so, he was always available to receive the ball and make the game progress through the pass, as he could identify the free man and find them with a good pass.
Defensively, the youngster from Shenzhen gave a lesson in individual defensive techniques. With his body always well oriented, Haofeng Xu made a difference in the defensive duels he played, always being on top, he won 3 of the four contests he played. He also left a good detail because he constantly rotated his neck; that is, in this way, he could control the opponent, the ball, and the space on his back – even though the opponent didn’t manage to get the ball there. When in the defensive line, the Chinese always respected the line’s horizontality and even corrected his colleagues’ positioning, ensuring that Beijing would not make a difference in positional attack. He executed good holds that resulted in successful cuts and still could provide good defensive coverage. In addition, whenever he was called to abandon the zonal defence, Xu did not compromise on the opponent’s defence and managed to make him progress on the field through the space that the Shenzhen defender was defending.
In transition, Xu demonstrated his skills in counter-pressing, initially positioning himself in the centre – the essential runner to defend – and then reacting to the loss and harassing the opponent in his midfield. Whenever he saw the reaction to his team’s loss overcome, Xu had the physical disposition to recover defensively at maximum speed and track back to the zone in which the opponent was.
Rating – B2
Although he was substituted at half-time, unfairly in my opinion, Haofeng Xu can maintain a good level for 90 minutes if he respects the principles of a particular technique as he did in the first half. The mastery of these principles denotes good athlete training and, like by performance coaches, can help you catapult to another level. He needs to keep working and, above all, be better able to progress on the pitch without just passing.