Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai SIPG face Gamba Osaka of Japan in Group G of the AFC Champions League in Shanghai on Tuesday.
In the Group G standings after two games, Melbourne Victory are top with four points followed by Shanghai on three points, with Gamba on two points and Suwon Samsung Bluewings of South Korea bringing up the rear.
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Shanghai are the only debutants in this season’s Champions League group stage after being runners-up in the Chinese Super League last year two points behind champions Guangzhou Evergrande. In their brief time in the Champions League, SIPG lost 2-1 against Melbourne Victory in Australia and won 2-1 against Suwon Samsung Bluewings at home.
The dangermen for the Chinese side are Brazilian forward Elkeson who opened his account in the competition for Shanghai with their opening goal in their 2-1 win over Suwon Samsung last time out and Shanghai ’s other goalscorer Wu Lei who has so far scored four Champions League goals including in the win over Muangthong in qualifying. Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan returns from injury and will be an added threat.
Speaking prior to the match, coach Sven Goran Eriksson underlined the importance of winning at home.
“In order to win we have to play our own style. We have prepared for this match very well, but we have to be at our best, otherwise we can’t win,” said Eriksson.
“We’ve researched our opponents well; they are good at passing and are very skillful with lots of talented players such as Patric and Takashi Usami.
“Due to playing two games per week, the team has not had time for physical training, but the same applies to Osaka as they have not had an easy week either so this is not an excuse for not running enough in the match.
“We are not in bad pre-match shape, so I hope we can do better than we did on Friday. There are no injuries to the team and we are fully prepared.”
In domestic action, SIPG have made a slow start in the Chinese Super League. In their opening match, they lost 1-0 at Henan Jianye before drawing 1-1 with Shanghai Shenhua last Friday and are in 13th place in the league standings .
Gamba, the 2008 AFC Champions League winners, came close again in 2015, losing to eventual winners Guangzhou Evergrande of China in the semi-finals. In their opening match if the 2016 group stages Gamba drew 0-0 with Suwon Samsung Bluewings in South Korea and then drew 1-1 with Melbourne Victory in Japan.
The man who is always a threat for the opposition is 36-year-old Yasuhito Endo who scored in their opening draw against Melbourne Victory and despite his age will always be dangerous.
In domestic action, Gamba lost their opening J1 League season match to Kashima Antlers but bounced back with wins against Ventforet Kofu and Omiya Ardija and are now fourth in the table, one point behind leaders Kawasaki Frontale.