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North Terrace Preview – Shanghai Shenhua v Shanghai East Asia

Round seven brings up a couple of derby fixtures — not least the first proper Shanghai derby in many a year. How does the immovable object  fare against the sometimes-stoppable force? Read on before Sunday’s game…

 Last Time Out

Who’s the Dady? The big Cape Verdean, that’s who. In an utterly abject game of football, Sergio Batista threw the dice and went all in on in a chain smoking cultured right foot and and an uncultured battering ram to save a game at league-leading Qingdao(!) — Jiang Kun’s delivery and big Dady’s head resulted in a barely deserved 1-1 draw.

Meanwhile Shanghai East Asia continued with their expected mid table consolidation with a 1-0 home win against seemingly-doomed Tianjin Teda — Wu Lei continuing his personal scoring crusade, and East Asia’s own domestic-scorers-only policy.

Causes for Optimism…

Write off this Shenhua side at your peril — Hongkou has seen more technically-accomplished players and more highly rated sides, but has rarely housed a better team spirit. Six games down, no games lost — comparing to like-for-like fixtures last year, Shenhua are 8 points earned ahead of the Anelka-Drogba team.

With Wang Dalei between the sticks and Dai Lin and the timeless Schiavi at the back, Shenhua are hard to breach. Firas al-Khatib provides the spark up front — North Terrace Preview may never, ever, tire of watching replays of his beautifully-delayed opener against Shandong.

... And for Concern

East Asia are a proper football team, and in Wu Lei have one of China’s genuine emerging talents. Under former NT coach Gao Hongbo and living legend Xu Genbao, they represent everything which Zhu Jun’s failed vanity project ignores in terms of stability, sustainability and coherence — say it again, East Asia are a proper football team.

Watch Out For

Wu Lei is an obvious call. Less so is maybe Cao Yunding — the sprightly Shanghainese playmaker has been doing his best to make your correspondents eat their words. Immaculate as an impact sub last year, Cao has looked like a little boy lost with a starting spot this year — it’s time for arguably Shenhua’s most gifted local to start producing the goods.

Amidst Cao’s travails and the South American exodus, agent Xu’s work has been overlooked — Xu Liang was a heralded signing from bitter rivals Beijing Guoan who has contributed the square root of **** all to Shenhua’s midfield thus far.

The Verdict

Shenhua are fragile yet tough to overcome. East Asia are talented yet brittle, and almost managed the mother of all chokes to throw away a promotion place last year. Expect drama and goals here — North Terrace Preview simply can’t bet against the resolve of this year’s Hongkou side, and is going for an action-packed 3-2 to  Shenhua here.

Reality Check

Shenhua according to North Terrace Preview:

P 6   W 2   D 3   L 1   GF 4   GA 3   GD +1   Pts 3

Shenhua according to the CSL table:

P 6   W 2   D 4   L 0   GF 6   GA 4   GD +2   Pts 4

Steve hosts the Chinese Football Podcast, having joined the WEF team as correspondent for Shanghai Shenhua, the side he has followed since moving to Shanghai in 2010. Exiled from the Victorian town-centre idyll of Feethams along with his childhood football team, Steve spent many an (un)happy year on Hongkou's North Terrace along with the Shenhua Element Crew and Blue Devils before relocating to Sydney from where he continues to follow the Chinese game from afar.

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