Shanghai SIPG are favourites to progress in Wednesday’s all-Chinese AFC Champions League clash with Jiangsu Sainty at Shanghai Stadium.
The Red Eagles are second in the Chinese Super League standings, two points adrift of leaders Guangzhou Evergrande, while Jiangsu languish rock-bottom with just one win from 10 matches.
Both teams will be hoping for some Brazilian magic to get them through, as Shanghai have Oscar, Elkeson, and Hulk in their ranks; while Jiangsu feature Ramires (Oscar’s former teammate at Chelsea) as well as former Shakhtar Donetsk attacker Alex Teixeira.
The Red Eagles have gone unbeaten in their last seven matches, and have won their last three on the trot. But while the CSL table speaks for itself, Jiangsu defeated Shanghai home and away in 2016, and that is enough to make Shanghai manager André Villas-Boas nervous.
“We will have to be at our best when we play Jiangsu,” Villas-Boas said ahead of the first leg.
“We know all about their quality and they know all about us. We have been playing well and we will have to continue that form.”
Meanwhile, Jiangsu boss Choi Yong-soo is hoping to see his team leave their worrying domestic form behind, and pick up where they left off in the continental competition.
“We haven’t been getting the results in the league but our form in the Asian Champions League has been good this season,” said Choi.
“It will be a tough game against Shanghai but if we can get a good result there in the first leg we will have a good chance of going to the next stage.”
Kick off is at 20:00 (HKT) on Wednesday.