Has Alibaba Cursed Guangzhou Evergrande?
Guangzhou Evergrande's defense of its Asian Champions League title crashed to a halt on Wednesday night as it was knocked out of the competition, marking the biggest blow to the club since Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. bought a 50% stake in June.
亚冠联赛卫冕冠军广州恒大队周三晚上被淘汰出局，这是自阿里巴巴集团(Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.) 6月份收购恒大50%股权以来，该俱乐部遭受的最大一次打击。
The fortunes of the team have taken a turn for the worse since the purchase, with a rare spate of defeats culminating with the Asian Champions League exit at the hands of Western Sydney Wanderers, a club that was founded only two years ago and, unlike Guangzhou Evergrande, doesn't boast former World Cup winners.
自从阿里巴巴入股广州恒大后，该球队的命运就急转直下，在亚冠联赛期间罕见地遭遇了接二连三的失败，最终被西悉尼流浪者队(Western Sydney Wanderers)淘汰出局，而后者成立时间只有两年，也不像广州恒大那样有前世界杯冠军球员加盟。
Guangzhou Evergrande's coach Marcello Lippi was in charge of Italy when the national team won the 2006 World Cup. The club's new signing, Alberto Gilardino, was in that World Cup-winning squad. He played on Wednesday, while Lippi had to watch from the stands after being suspended for confronting the referee on the pitch during last week's 1-0 loss in the opening leg of the quarterfinal in Sydney.
意大利国家队赢得2006年世界杯冠军时，执教该队的正是广州恒大现任教练里皮(Marcello Lippi)。广州恒大新签约的意大利球员吉拉迪诺(Alberto Gilardino)也在2006年世界杯冠军阵容之列。吉拉迪诺参加了周三的比赛，但里皮则因上周在悉尼的亚冠联赛四分之一决赛首轮回合恒大客场0比1失利后冲进场内指责裁判而被临时停赛一场。
A third Italian, Alessandro Diamanti, scored Guangzhou Evergrande's first goal of the night to bring the score level after Tomi Juric put the visitor's 1-0 ahead with a 58th minute penalty. That goal proved crucial. Even though Guangzhou's Brazilian striker Elkeson -- who had a penalty saved earlier -- scored in injury time to give the host a 2-1 win, Western Sydney Wanderers qualified for the semifinal thanks to its away goal. The aggregate score was 2-2. The Australian team will play FC Seoul in the next round.
广州恒大的第三个意大利人是迪亚曼蒂(Alessandro Diamanti)，他周三为广州恒大踢入第一粒进球，将比分追平，此前尤里奇(Tomi Juric)在开赛58分钟时凭藉罚球为西悉尼流浪者队先下一分。迪亚曼蒂的进球非常关键。虽然广州恒大的巴西前锋埃克尔森(Elkeson)在伤停补时阶段又踢进一球（埃克尔森早些时候曾罚失点球），令恒大主场2比1险胜，但西悉尼流浪者队最终因客场进球优势杀入半决赛。两队总比分为2比2。西悉尼流浪者队在半决赛时将迎战首尔足球俱乐部(FC Seoul)。
When Guangzhou Evergrande became the first Chinese team in more than two decades to win the Asian Champions League last year, it lost only one match during the entire competition. This year, it lost four matches and is out before the semifinal. After Jack Ma, China's richest man, said on June 5 his company would buy a 50% stake in Guangzhou Evergrande, the club was also knocked out of the Chinese FA Cup.
Guangzhou Evergrande remains top of the Chinese Super League, but there is no chance it can match last year's achievements of winning the treble. The exit from the Chinese FA Cup came as early as the fourth round and less than three weeks after Mr. Ma's announcement. The team that knocked out Guangzhou Evergrande was Henan Jianye, which is languishing in 14th place in the Super League and locked in a relegation battle.
The club is, at least, in line to retain its Super League title -- it is top of the table with 51 points from 22 games. Last year, it finished the season with 77 points from 30 games and suffered only one defeat. This year, it has lost three matches already, including a shock 2-1 defeat to 11th placed Changchun Yatai in early August.
Defeat hurts in the Asian Champions League, the most prestigious club competition in a region spanning from Australia to the Middle East. After winning it last year, Guangzhou Evergrande qualified to the Club World Cup in Morocco. There it played against European champion Bayern Munich, a team filled with players who went on to win the World Cup for Germany in July. There'll be no such illustrious competition for Lippi and his men this year.
亚冠联赛是亚洲地区（以及澳大利亚）最富盛名的俱乐部足球赛事。在去年赢得亚冠联赛冠军后，广州恒大获得资格赴摩洛哥参加世俱杯(Club World Cup)，对战欧洲冠军球队拜仁慕尼黑(Bayern Munich)。拜仁慕尼黑队中有多位球员代表德国参加世界杯并最终夺得了冠军。但今年，里皮和他的球员没有机会与这样的劲旅一较高下了。
Millions of Chinese love soccer. They are fond of European teams, but Guangzhou Evergrande offered some razzle dazzle closer to home. Around 40,000 spectators turned out for Wednesday night's game in Guangzhou, according to the Asian Football Confederation, so there is clearly a desire to see a homegrown team succeed. The club's motto is farfetched though: 'Be the Best Forever.' Even Chuck Norris would shy away from saying that.
中国有数以百万计的足球爱好者，他们大多喜欢欧洲的球队，但广州恒大让球迷们在家门口也能欣赏到超炫的球技。亚洲足球联合会(Asian Football Confederation)称，观看周三晚上在广州进行的比赛的观众人数达到4万人左右，球迷们显然希望看到这只本土球队能够取得胜利。广州恒大“永做最强”(Be the Best Forever)的口号有点儿过于高调。空手道世界冠军查克•诺里斯(Chuck Norris)都不太会说这样的话。
China also continues to woo the soccer world. In October, Brazil will play Argentina at the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing.
Mr. Ma didn't disclose many details when he made his announcement on Guangzhou Evergrande in June. The 1.2 billion yuan ($195 million) deal was ironed out in just 15 minutes, he said. He also said investing in soccer is investing in happiness.
There weren't many happy locals at Guangzhou's Tianhe Stadium on Wednesday.