Zhejiang Professional v Dalian Pro
Only one point separates these two teams in the middle of the Chinese Super League table and neither have managed to find enough consistency to be higher up the standings.
Zhejiang lost their last game 1-0 to Henan but it was a good showing. They had the opportunities to win the game and were just unable to do so. With better strikers, Zhejiang would be higher up the table but they can’t keep missing chances and they should be able to get on top against Dalian. In the second half, they were caught out as Henan got behind the defence but that did not happen very much at all.
Dalian drew 2-2 with Changchun after a fine first-half performance but were denied victory due to a late goal and it did look like they grew tired as the game went on. That has been a recurring theme this season so far due to the intensity of their energetic high press.
The question is will they be able to do it again just three days later in high temperatures? While they have managed to keep going well, there is sure to be some fatigue in the second half as they play their usual game. Dalian midfielders Shang Yin and Yan Xiangchuang have been impressive but are 33 and 35 respectively they simply can’t keep going at the same pace.
Zhejiang may not have the firepower to take huge advantage of that but you would expect that they’ll be able to get the all-important goal or two. Dalian are starting to look tired and while it should be a tight game, Zhejiang should be able to get the points.
Changchun Yatai v Shandong Luneng
Changchun went into their last game against Dalian expecting to win but needed a late free-kick to earn a 2-2 draw. Dalian were the better team in the first half and Changchun were too passive in the face of the high press but they started to gain control of the game after the break.
It was testament to Changchun’s spirit that they twice came back from a goal behind to earn a point. It is the third time this season that Changchun have done that. It was also encouraging that last season’s top scorer Junior Negrao got on the scoresheet for just the second time this season with a fine goal. It should be a boost for his confidence.
Shandong will be more difficult and are coming off a comfortable victory over Guangzhou, one that everyone expected. The main talking point was how many players they would rest but it was only really Chen Pu who sat out the game. Most of the regular starters played. There has been some criticism of the decision by the coach but the thinking is that there are just two games left before the break and the team is going to go all the way playing their strongest line-up.
Son Jun-ho and Marouane fellaini have been striking up a decent understanding in midfield and the energy and aggression of the South Korean and the physical presence of the Belgian should pose too many problems for Changchun and they also provide a good shield for the defence. Shandong have kept five clean sheets in the past six games. They should be able to do so again and that will likely mean another victory.
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