Shandong Taishan v Henan
Shandong slipped to a surprise 2-0 defeat to Zhejiang last time around but it is hard to know exactly what happened. The champions dominated and outshot the victors four to one. They created many more chances, more dangerous chances and even missed a penalty. That was the turning point and had that spot kick been scored then it is likely that Shandong would have gone on and won the game.
There has been criticism that Shandong focus too much when attacking on Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian international has been playing more minutes in every game and came on at the start of the second half and there were too many long balls played into the area as he is the best player in the air in the whole league.
The coach admitted that there needs to be more variety in attack but in truth, it was a freak result and Shandong are desperate to get back to winning ways and should enjoy more space against Henan. They have been playing well, keeping possession and creating chances but just need to be more clinical.
Henan continued their fine start to the season with a 2-0 win over Dalian Pro which was impressive as they were reduced to ten men in the 24th minute as defensive midfielder Ma Xingyu was sent off. He will be suspended for the clash. More importantly however is that in summer temperatures, Henan played three quarters of the game against an energetic opponent with only ten men. With all the games coming thick and fast, Henan must be more tired than most and there should be a bit more space than usual.
Guangzhou City v Dalian Pro
Dalian struggled in their 2-0 loss against Henan especially as they had a man advantage from the 25th minute onwards. But it was Henan who adapted more intelligently. It was clear that Dalian’s game plan was to defend in numbers against the free-scoring Henan, frustrate them and look to hit on the break.
With Henan having a man sent off, that game plan was not going to work but Dalian did not know what to do. Henan became less adventurous but Dalian had to make the running but struggled with their creativity and it was the opponent who were much more clinical. A lack of flexibility was an issue.
Dalian may try and replicate the performance of Changchun who defeated Guangzhou 3-1. Changchun scored twice in the early period and were able to sit back and allow Guangzhou to make the running, While they did make a game of it, Changchun looked comfortable for the most part and ended up winning 3-1.
Guangzhou are now next to bottom of the league and have now lost all of the games and only scored four goals and conceded 17. Whether they try and push forward or sit back, they just don’t have the personnel to keep clean sheets or to score enough.
Dalian have not been at their best but should be too strong for Guangzhou. They are better organised and should be able to deny Guangzhou a goal, and while they are not the most free-scoring of teams, their threat from set pieces alone should be enough.
Shanghai Port v Shanghai Shenhua
In recent years, Shanghai Port have had the better of the derby though the games have become closer in the past year or two. There is also the fact that Shenhua won the meeting between the rivals earlier in the season 2-0 but it was closer than the scoreline suggests. Cao Yunding made the difference then and made both goals and has been having a good season on the wing. Cao got his second goal of the season in the most recent win, a 2-1 victory over Guangzhou FC. It wasn’t Shenhua’s best performance of the season but the team are showing that they can get a result even when they are not at their best.
And the win keeps them second in the league on goal difference and full of confidence. Shanghai Port have been more inconsistent, winning three and losing three of their six games. It is understandable as they are without two of the best, if not the best, midfielders in the league. Brazil’s Oscar is back in training but still has to wait to finish his total quarantine period. Aaron Mooy is still overseas after helping Australia qualify for the World Cup.
In their absence, Port have focused on being hard to beat and there have been just 11 goals scored in their six games played so far. Their recent 2-1 win over Wuhan was well-deserved and the third goal in the last four games for Cherif Ndiaye, the Senegalese striker who did not play in the first Shanghai derby this season.
Both teams may be improving but Shenhua have conceded just three goals this season and derby games are often tight affairs with nobody wanting to lose.
Shenzhen v Tianjin
These are two teams which are separated by just a single point though Shenzhen started the season well but have collected just a point from the last two games, including a 4-1 loss against Beijing Guoan. The 2-2 draw against Chengdu was a better result and while it did show that the team has organisational issues at the back, they always carry a goal threat.
And that is why they should be able to win this game. Shenzhen have Frank Achaempong, one of the best strikers in the league with four already this season. The Ghanaian has excellent movement and can score all kinds of goals. With Romain Alessandrini returning to the sub bench last week and coming on for the final third, there were signs of an understanding between the pair and if Achaempong can get a little more service and if his team-mates can start getting behind defences, as they did against Chengdu then they should have too much for Tianjin.
Tianjin have won their last two games without conceding a goal and when defeating Meizhou 1-0, got an early goal and then defended well, denying the opposition any space behind them and with high temperatures, they allowed the opponents to make most of the running and they eventually grew tired. Confidence is growing and this should be a tight game but the presence and the goal threat of Achaempong should make the difference. Shenzhen shaded the earlier meeting between the two teams and should do so again.
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