Shanghai Port v Guangzhou FC
For much of the previous decade, this would have been a game to decide Chinese Super League titles but those days are certainly gone for Guangzhou. Shanghai still have hopes of a challenge despite a relatively slow start. There was a much-improved performance in the 2-0 win over Hebei.
China’s top centre-back Zhang Linpeng, recently signed from Guangzhou, scored and he really offers a threat from set pieces. Big striker Cherif Ndiaye scored on his debut after just four minutes and Shanghai will be looking to make the most of their aerial threat and it is hard to see a makeshift Guangzhou backline keeping them out.
With the rivalry between these two teams, if Shanghai get an early goal, they are not going to stop and would love nothing more inflicting a heavy defeat.
Expect plenty of balls into the area quickly and Guangzhou’s inexperienced defence will struggle to cope with the firepower that Shanghai have. The departure of Zhang has cost them their leader in the team and defensively his physical presence will be missed.
Guangzhou have lost their first three games of the season for the first time since 1998 and while they restricted Wuhan FC to a 1-0 victory, it was a poor and disjointed performance and there is little suggestion that they have what it takes to defeat their old rivals.
Expected a defensive performance but there is pressure on the team not to just give in against their biggest rivals and put in improved performance. That will come sooner or later, it is unlikely to do so against one of the title favourites.
Hebei v Shanghai Shenhua
So far, these two teams have scored just five goals between them this season but there are reasons to suggest that there could be goals in this meeting.
Firstly, Shanghai have had a good start, one of the best they have had for some time and see this encounter against a struggling team as a great chance to maintain their position. If they win then there is a chance they could even go top. Compared to the previous games where the Blues have kept things tight and let the other team have possession, they are going to be a little aggressive in attack against a team that have already conceded eight goals in three games.
With Shenhua boasting attackers such as Christian Bassagog and midfield talents such as Wu Xi and Alexander N’Doumbou, it is likely that they will score against a Hebei team that just does not have the players to keep Shanghai out. Hebei lost most of their best talents to other teams and are now just focused on survival. It sounds obvious but they are going to sit back even more than Shanghai. Shanghai are not going to be able to play their normal counter-attacking game, at least as much as they usually do, and will have to come forward more than usual leaving gaps at the back.
Hebei’s young attackers should be able to take advantage of that space as they have some pace. Hebei may struggle to get three points from this game but scoring a goal is well within their capabilities.
Dalian Pro v Zhejiang Professional
Dalian are only in the top tier as a late replacement for the bankrupt Chongqing but they have started solidly this season and are unbeaten in the three games so far this season. There were concerns as they were unexpectedly promoted just a couple of weeks before the season started that they would be completely unprepared for the top flight but that has not been the case and new coach Xie Hui has the team working hard as a unit and they started off with a 2-2 draw against a solid Henan team.
Veteran Yan Xiangchuang has been key to the team’s great start and already leads the assist chart in the league with three. The 35 year-old no longer has much pace but has been dropping deeper and finding space with opponents struggling to pick him up and creating space for the likes of Lin Liangming to come from deep.
Dalian can break forward at speed and that should cause problems for a Zhejiang defence that lacks a little pace in the middle. Spanish coach Jordi Vinyals is trying to play a more possession-based game from the back but it is taking time to adapt to the top tier.
Zhejiang have bigger issues so far this season and lost 3-1 to Henan last weekend. Their lack of goals is putting pressure on the defence as they have found the net just once so far this season. Chances are being created but not yet of quality and there is a lack of cutting edge.
At the back, they are without the injured centre-back Lucas Possignolo and first choice goalkeeper Gu Chao and that can only help Dalian.
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