Shanghai SIPG coach Vítor Pereira will be hoping that his Red Eagles can bounce back after their disappointing loss against rivals Guangzhou Evergrande in the Chinese Super League.
The reigning Chinese champions welcome South Korean titleholders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC to the Shanghai Stadium in the first leg of a round of 16 tie in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday.
After hammering eventual Group H winners Ulsan Hyundai 5-0 in their final group stage fixture, SIPG deservedly finished second and set up this mouth-watering clash with the South Korean outfit.
Over the weekend, SIPG suffered a disappointing loss as Brazilian midfielder Paulinho’s brace for Guangzhou Evergrande saw their 15 game unbeaten run come to an end.
The Asian Champions League allows for a three-plus-one rule, that is, Chinese teams can field any three foreign players and one other AFC confederation-affiliated player. This means that SIPG will be able to field a full-strength side with Uzbek midfielder Odil Akhmedov and Brazilian attacker Elkeson, both eligible.
One player for SIPG fans to watch out for is Jeonbuk striker Kim Shin-wook. At 6-feet, 5-inches, you can’t really miss him as the forward has helped himself to eight goals in just 15 league appearances this season with three more coming in the Champions League.
Our prediction: Shanghai SIPG 2-1 Jeonbuk
One day prior to the Shanghai clash, comes a huge all-Chinese game down South as two-time Champions League winners Guangzhou Evergrande welcome Group E victors Shandong Luneng.
The Tianhe Stadium is sure to be rocking as Fabio Cannavaro looks to follow in the footsteps of Marcello Lippi and Luiz Felipe Scolari in guiding Evergrande to continental success. In what could be a huge blow for the South China Tigers though, talisman Anderson Talisca wasn’t included in Evergrande’s weekend squad, so could be a doubt for this game.
Image via Xinhua
Hoping to cause a huge upset are Shandong Luneng. A poor start to the season has seen Li Xiaopeng’s men fall 4 points behind league leaders Beijing Guo’an in the Chinese Super League after just 13 games. Shandong have shone in Champions League games, however, taking top spot in Group E ahead of Japanese side Kashima Antlers and Korean team Gyeongyam FC.
Our prediction: Guangzhou Evergrande 2-0 Shandong Luneng
Shanghai SIPG vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC – Wed, Jun 19, 8pm. Shanghai Stadium
[Cover image via Xinhua]