Shanghai East Asia’s second game of the new campaign takes place at Shanghai Stadium this Sunday against neighbours Shanghai Shenxin. Will their first home game of the season coincide with their first 3 points?
With a clean bill of health all round Xi Zhikang will have a pleasant selection headache this weekend. The manager talked this week of the significance of the improving understanding between foreigners Daniel McBreen and Tobias Hysen, and homegrown sensation Wu Lei. Xi spoke of the need to provide the reigning Chinese golden boot holder with more support, and indeed last week’s performance gave weight to this. East Asia looked most potent with Wu connecting the hard working midfield and his international colleagues further forward. Wu himself spoke after the game of the team’s improving physical and mental condition, which will be key to a successful start to the season.
Last Time Out
Despite largely controlling the game last week against Liaoning, East Asia were only able to pick up a single point against the Shenyang side, having failed to convert several golden opportunities. Ball retention amongst Xi Zhikang’s midfield was a key factor in dictating the flow of the game, although concerns will surely have been raised over spurned chances. Though East Asia will inevitably feel hard-done by – Liaoning’s goal actually coming via the arm of striker Kevin Oris – both playing and coaching staff will understand the significance of turning meaningful openings into goals.
As for Shenxin, a performance lacking in quality and marred by some shambolic finishing, resulted in a 2-0 home defeat against derby kings Shanghai Shenhua last Sunday. Their failure to find the net, having carved out a number of encouraging positions, will need swiftly addressing if Shenxin are to get anything from future matches.
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Causes for Optimism…
By and large, East Asia will be encouraged by their performance in the opening fixture. They will be looking to step up a gear against a side whose disorganised display last week against an unfamiliar Shenhua side afflicted by the loss of key players, means they go into the second weekend of the new CSL season in 15th place. Fans have good reason to be confident following the strength of last week’s robust midfield display. This, combined with some promising interlinking between foreign strike duo Tobias Hysen and Daniel McBreen, and the impact of Wu Lei sitting just behind will leave East Asia confident of a positive result on Sunday.
… and for Concern
Although East Asia were largely dominant against Liaoning, they could well have found themselves facing defeat had the home side succeeded in finishing their limited, if promising, breaks on goal. Centre backs Ransford Addo and Ibán Cuadrado will have to remain composed in order to keep the Shenxin attack quiet. Having outclassed their opponents in the 6-1 victory at Shenxin last year, East Asia followed this up with a disappointing 1-0 defeat at home; a game many would have expected them to stroll through.
Watch Out For
Star player Wu Lei opened his 2014 CSL goal scoring account last week with a well-placed finish after a smart exchange with Hysen. Wu looked lively throughout, although he will need to find more consistency in his finishing having squandered an excellent chance to win the game last week. If he can add this to an overall impressive performance, goals could be easy to find against a defence that looked increasingly vulnerable in their first game.
Form and fitness suggest East Asia’s first home game of the 2014 campaign should be little more than a straightforward affair. Thanks to the increased number of Shenxin first teamers occupying the treatment table, the home side should be looking to again control the game. Mindful of the reversal at home last year, if East Asia can impose themselves and find their attacking rhythm early on, a win appears to be the most probable outcome. 2-0 East Asia.
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