Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai SIPG FC face K League Classic side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in a much-anticipated first leg quarter-final of the 2016 AFC Champions League at the Shanghai Stadium on Tuesday.
One of the many things that makes this an interesting match up is that as newcomers to this year’s tournament, Shanghai are the most inexperienced team in the competition, while their Korean opponents are one of the most seasoned sides.
Shanghai so far:
In Group G, Shanghai finished on top of the standings three points clear of both Melbourne Victory and Suwon FC of Korea Republic. In their first leg match of the round of 16 they lost 2-1 against FC Tokyo but were saved in the second leg by a Wu Lei injury-time winner to secure a 1-0 victory in Shanghai and reach the quarter-finals on the away goal rule.
In domestic action, Shanghai are in third position on the Chinese Super League table, 10 points behind leaders Guangzhou Evergrande.
Players to watch out for:
Right wing Wu Lei has been in great form for his side, scoring seven goals so far including the injury-time winner in the second leg in the round of 16 against FC Tokyo. Brazilian striker Elkeson has also looked useful having contributed four goals.
SIPG could be without record signing Brazilian striker Hulk who has been out with a knee injury since July 10, while Argentinean midfielder Dario Conca will also miss out through injury.
In coach Sven-Goran Eriksson Shanghai have one of the most experienced managers in world football having coached in nine different countries including a spell as the coach of England’s national team from 2001 to 2006. In June 2013 he arrived in China to coach Guangzhou R&F and then moved to join Shanghai in 2014.
Jeonbuk so far:
This is the seventh time Jeonbuk have reached the AFC Champions League quarter-finals having shown good form, finishing top of Group E on goal difference. In the round of 16, they reached the quarter-finals by beating Melbourne Victory 3-2 on aggregate.
They have also had fair success on the road against Chinese sides in this competition over the years – in 11 visits they have won six times, drawing once and losing on four occasions. However, in the group stage this season they lost 3-2 at Jiangsu FC.
In domestic action Jeonbuk are unbeaten and are top of the K League Classic table, 10 points ahead of FC Seoul and were last in action when they beat Incheon United 3-1 on Wednesday.
Players to watch out for:
After a quiet start to this season’s AFC Champions League, Brazilian midfielder Leonardo has scored in the last three games and netted a brace in the 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory in the last 16.
Veteran striker Lee Dong-gook has also looked useful with three goals to his name. Another player who could influence the game is star midfielder Lee Jae-sung.
Brazilian forward Edu is back in the mix having returned to Jeonbuk after a year at Chinese side Hebei CFFC.
Jeonbuk are coached by 56-year-old former Korea Republic international defender Choi Kang-hee, who first took charge in 2005 winning the Korean FA Cup in his first season, the AFC Champions League in 2006 and the K League Classic championships on four occasions.
In an interview with the official AFC website, Choi did not appear fazed that his side will be on the road first up.
“It doesn’t matter that this is an away match, Jeonbuk is a champion team and we are always looking to win; never content to draw,” said Choi.
“We have many special players with strong characteristics, while the atmosphere and morale amongst the team is also much better than last year.
“Chinese teams have invested greatly and the level has gone up, there’s no denying that – and this is a positive thing for their league. We have spent a great deal of time analysing their team and no matter who plays we will be prepared for them,” added Choi.
“We have to win the match tomorrow, it is important for Korean football and we will show why we are champions.”