Shanghai Shenhua v Wuhan Three Towns
This is an early top of the table clash between two teams that have not been often accustomed to challenging for titles but the playing field in China is more level these days due to financial issues of many big teams.
Wuhan are newly promoted and are top of the table with two wins from two, ten scored and none conceded but this is their first major test since winning promotion and it is by far their hardest so far. It could be harder as, due to COVID, this game will take place in Dalian, not Shanghai, meaning that there is no home advantage with Shanghai’s loyal fans.
Wuhan’s 6-0 thrashing of Guangzhou FC, a team with eight titles in the previous decade, looked impressive but Guangzhou are a shadow of their former selves and too much should not be read into that scoreline.
Shanghai have also won both games so far and are looking lile title challengers and enjoyed last week’s derby win over Shanghai Port. Christian Bassogog has been a standout so far and the Cameroonian international will surely ask plenty of questions of the Wuhan defence and has linked up well with Chinese international Cao Yunding, who made his 300th appearance for the club. Experienced coach Wu Jinqui is bringing a more possession-based game to Shanghai and they had over 60% last week.
This is the first ever meeting between these two teams and Wuhan will do well to make it three clean sheets out of three. Shanghai are the favourites to win and with the chance to go top with a win, are likely to be push forward which should give the ‘visitors’ a chance to hit on the counter.
Cangzhou v Chengdu
Cangzhou are used to relegation struggles when they are in the top flight which means that they will be delighted with taking four points from the opening two games. A win here will really give them a good start.
The opening game was an impressive win over Beijing and it was followed by a 1-1 draw with newly promoted Meizhou. Now comes another winnable game against Chengdu, another promoted team.
It should be something of a clash of two styles between a team that looks to defend first and foremost and one that likes to get on then frontfoot.
So far Cangzhou have sat back, got men behind the ball, allowed the other team to have most of the possession and then got the ball forward quickly and have also been quite direct.
In the last game, the team played the second half without their main striker Oscar Maritu, who is a strong physical presence and holds the ball up well. The DR Congo forward is expected to be fit and should start.
Chengdu have yet to adjust to life in the top tier but have had two fairly tough games so far, losing both against Shenzhen and Beijing. They made life hard for themselves in the latter game, having three men sent off. That means a problem for this game as main centre-back Gou Junchen, former Wigan defensive midfielder Tim Chow and Abduhamit Abdugheni will be absent.
Despite the sendings-off, Chengdu still outshot Beijing and were aggressive. They may cause Cangzhou some problems but defensive absences mean that they are likely to struggle to keep a clean sheet.
Beijing Guoan v Tianjin JMT
Neither team has yet to really impress this season so far with Beijing winning their first game, 3-2 over Chengdu Rongcheng, though Chengdu ended that game with eight men, and Tianjin losing to Shenzhen after drawing the opening game.
Beijing have more firepower than their rivals though there are still rumours of some players waiting to be paid –this is common at the moment and there are signs that the situation is improving. Zhang Yuning is perhaps China’s best striker and scored last week and is starting to show signs of his form from last season when he finished as fourth top scorer in the league. There is good support from the two wing backs Kang Sung-woo and Wang gang and they got forward well last week. Former Brentford midfielder Li Ke is still unfit but has returned to training.
Expect Tianjin to be very compact, get men behind the ball, deny Beijing space and try to hit on the counter. They will also look to set pieces to try and nick a goal or two. Beijing’s defence has looked vulnerable.
Beijing have the better head to head record but in the new Chinese Super League that does not mean so much given all the changes in playing staff and Tianjin almost went bankrupt last season. Beijing are a traditional powerhouse however and still have some of the remnants of a strong squad that finished fifth last season and while they have yet to impress this season, they should be a little too strong for Tianjin.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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