Following back-to-back home fixtures, Shenhua are making the long trip north to Yanji. But which team will turn up when they get there?
In times past, home victories over Beijing Guoan were much celebrated but routine. Even as Guoan were consistently finishing at the sharper end of the CSL table they grew used to getting nothing from their trips to Hongkou. That hoodoo ended some time ago, but Wednesday night saw a return to good old times as Shenhua saw off their oldest opponents in the FA Cup. A dismal opening period gave way to an improved second half showing and a peach of a goal from this season’s star turn, Fredy Guarin. Gus Poyet can no doubt breathe a little easier – certain sections of the fanbase still pushing for his departure, but with further reassurance from the board this week they’ve no intention of letting him go. Let’s see how that one turns out.
Last time out: Sichuan surprise
Prior to the midweek venture, Shenhua sprung the other side of their personality in a poor showing at home to Chongqing Lifan. Two of the poorest goals you’ll see ensured dropped points against very mediocre opposition – again suggesting that Shenhua’s policy of fielding damp cardboard in central defence is not without its drawbacks. The good news is that Carlos Tevez started to look interested, Cao Yunding was on song with a goal and an assist, and Guarin was back to give that midfield some shape and bite.
This time up: Yanbian Funde
Rock bottom and with four losses in their last five games, Yanbian look in real trouble. They surprised many by finishing their first season back in the top flight inside the top ten, but gravity appears to finally be catching up. Shenhua have headed north with the players on a direct chartered flight, whilst amusingly the staff are going on a standard flight and having to change at Dalian. Oh Shenhua, never change. Unfortunately Liu Ruofan, impressive in recent games, is playing in the all-China games and therefore unavailable to fill the U23 role, where Xu Junmin might make a reappearance. Elsewhere, Li Peng is back from suspension and Tao Jin back from injury if Poyet wishes to rotate his plywood defence. Tevez, Moreno and Guarin are all available and expected to feature, which would mean Kim Ki-Hee making way once more.
The table below might make it look like we vaguely know what we’re talking about, but anyone following this team will already know that predicting which Shenhua are going to turn up is a fool’s game. Surprisingly, the team have done better on the road than they have in their (limited) home games this season, and a bottom of the table side really should be beatable. An anything-but-routine 2-1 Shenhua with no small number of scares along the way looks to be the order of the day.
Shenhua in 2017 according to North Terrace News:
P 12 W 3 D 3 L 6 Pts 12
Shenhua in 2017 according to the CSL table:
P 12 W 3 D 4 L 5 Pts 13
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015