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Noisy Neighbors--Paul Ryding looks at the growing rancor between Tianjin Teda and Beijing Guoan and their supporters.

The Tianjin Teda versus Beijing Guoan derby match – also known as the Jing-Jin Derby – is fast gaining a reputation as one of the most anticipated and fiercely contested fixtures of the season in the Chinese Super League.

The vitriol exemplified by both sets of players and fans alike has escalated in recent years.

Long considered merely the smaller neighbors of Guoan, Tianjin’s newfound success has seen them become genuine contenders in China, with a runner-up finish in the CSL last season leading to Asian Champions League qualification for the second time in three years. 

Tianjin Teda currently boast no fewer than five Chinese full internationals, and are managed by Dutch legend Arie Haan. They also possess one of the finest Chinese prospects around at the moment in the precociously talented Yu Dabao who spent time playing with Portuguese giants Benfica before returning to China last year.

Historically, Beijing Guoan’s main rivalry has been with Shanghai Shenhua who have traditionally performed at around the same level in the Chinese Super League. But Tianjin Teda have made great strides in recent seasons and are now considered by many of the club’s fans to be Beijing Guoan’s arch rivals. Defeat against the “baozi” (as Guoan fans call Teda and their players) has become unthinkable for Beijing supporters.

From being the ‘little brothers’, Tianjin Teda have grown to be regarded as one of the top teams in China which has led to the obvious geographic rivalry between the two clubs intensifying.

Brandon Chemers is a football writer who specializes in the Chinese Super League. He says that while the rivalry’s roots lay in the two clubs’ status as close neighbors, it has definitely developed into something more in recent seasons.

“For some of the older Beijing fans, Shanghai will always be the biggest derby match,” says Chemers. “But as Tianjin have started coming up, the rivalry has definitely intensified […] The Tianjin rivalry has surpassed it in intensity level .”

In recent seasons crowd trouble had become an unwelcome feature of the Jing-Jin Derby clash which led to both sides banning away supporters from attending the match from the start of last season.

Violent clashes with police marred a thrilling encounter in Beijing between the two sides in 2009 when Tianjin fans lit a Beijing Guoan jersey on fire and hurled objects onto the pitch during and after the match.

 The most recent encounter between the two at the Workers’ Stadium in Beijing back in June ended in a 1-1 draw after a furiously contested match which saw Yu Dabao taunting home supporters after putting Tianjin into a first half lead, and Beijing Guoan manager Jaime Pacheco sent off for making an obscene gesture at the Tianjin bench. A fracas later ensued after a seemingly legitimate Tianjin goal was chalked off, before Roberto equalized for Guoan to ensure the match ended in a stalemate. The rivalry has now produced a draw in five of the last seven encounters between the two sides.

Brandon Chemers has attended the Jing-Jin Derby for the past few years and he says he has noticed an intensifying of the antipathy between the two teams in recent seasons.

“It’s definitely growing. It seems to have carried over onto the pitch too,” says Chemers. “There have been some brutal tackles, red cards and a lot of arguing and fighting recently.”

This season’s return fixture will be at the Jinmen Tiger’s TEDA Football Stadium next month. That game will come towards the climax of this CSL campaign and with Beijing set to battle with Guangzhou for this season’s league title, and Tianjin preparing for another tilt at qualification for the Asian Champions League, the tie could provide another spicy chapter in the two clubs’ developing rivalry .

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