Stop me if you’ve heard this before: red-faced Red Eagle defenders cost SIPG a match.
Ding Jie breaks SIPG hearts
So, so alone.
He waited. Fashions came and went, callow officers became lean and hungry, led revolutions, became old men, had mistresses younger than their grandchildren. The earth warmed, the earth cooled. He waited.
Finally, Ding Jie, the number eight on his back peeling off, his walker tossed aside for the moment, accepted a pass from Liu Yu, tapped it past Yan Junling and Chongqing Lifan had a 94th minute goal to salvage a 1-1 draw Sunday night in at Chongqing Olympic Stadium against Shanghai SIPG.
It was hardly the first defensive lapse for SIPG, but it was the worst: Ding set up camp dead center, five yards away from the goal line and just sat there, utterly unmarked, while Liu worked the ball in from the right side.
Liu himself was barely molested, but when he finally made it inside the box and looked up, he probably couldn’t believe his good fortune. He executed a neat, if obvious, pass, Ding scored probably his easiest goal since high school and play never resumed.
Defensive lapses a pattern for SIPG
Earlier Chongqing missed a wide open header after a corner, SIPG’s Wang Shenchao gave a ball away cheaply at the edge of the area, then hit the deck untouched, and Chongqing’s Nan Song, as unmarked as Ding Jie would later be, took a cross and shot it right into Yan Junling’s arms, missing an easy goal. In general, the SIPG back line couldn’t hold it’s shape, made panicked, ineffective clearances and, as it has all season, looked like an outfit badly in need of reinforcements.
Help is not on the way
Which are not coming, according to SIPG GM Sui Guoyang. He told the media after last week’s match against FC Seoul that no new foreigners will be added to SIPG’s roster during the summer European break.
SIPG does have an option already under contract – 38-year-old former Portuguese international and AS Monaco defender Ricardo Carvalho – but Carvalho hasn’t played for SIPG this season and hasn’t played anywhere in about a year.
And inserting Carvalho into the line-up would mean two of Hulk, Oscar, Elkeson and Odil Akhmedov would have to sit.
Tough to win the CSL with a leaky defense
SIPG have now given up seven goals in seven CSL matches — against some of the softest attacking teams in the league.
it’s worth noting that in the last ten years, only one team has won the CSL giving up more than a goal a game. (Shandong Luneng in 2010. The CSL’s 2017 season has been a goal-a-palooza: only one team in the entire CSL — Shandong again — is doing better defensively than one goal a game.)
Lone SIPG goal a beauty
It took about 35 minutes for SIPG’s potent attack to start firing on all cylinders, but when it did, a Hulk free kick led to a gorgeous Wu Lei pass and a He Guan goal, his first of the year.
SIPG were able to generate some other decent chances, but struggled with Chongqing’s defensive strategy, which was to swarm to Hulk anytime he got his foot on the ball.
Villas-Boas sub strategy leaves SIPG with few options
Villas-Boas strategy of manipulating the U23 rule almost burned SIPG. As per SIPG’s recent practice, U23 Zhang Huachen came out in the 14th minute, but then six minutes later, Shi Ke came up with what looked like a pulled hamstring and had to come out, leaving Villas-Boas with one substitution available for the last 70 minutes. As he’s been doing quite a bit, he used it to pull Wu Lei in the last few minutes, albeit for attacker Wei Shihao, and not a midfielder or defender. Except as a time-wasting tactic, it’s an odd strategy with a lead in the waning minutes of a match.
A long ten days ahead
SIPG now moves on to their debut in this season’s FA Cup on Wednesday at Shijiazhuang Ever Bright — the only sure line-up move for Andre Villas-Boas is going to be the insertion of Elkeson, who wasn’t on the roster in Chongqing — then a weekend meeting at home against Guizhou Zhicheng and another Wednesday match in the ACL at Western Sydney.
The Guizhou fixture is looking a lot tougher after the Guiyang side went into Yuexiushan Stadium this weekend and whacked front-running Guangzhou R&F 3-1. The Western Sydney fixture remains unlikely to include any of SIPG’s top players.
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