Shanghai Shenhua vs. Hebei
Unbeaten in each of their last eight outings, Shanghai Shenhua welcome Hebei to the Jinzhou Stadium in round nine of the Chinese Super League on Thursday.
Kim Jong-boo’s side will head into the game seeking to get one over the hosts, having failed to win any of the last five meetings between the teams since July 2019.
Shanghai Shenhua were condemned to their first league defeat of the season when they were beaten 4-1 by Wuhan Three Towns at the Puwan Stadium on Sunday.
Brazilian forward Marcao turned in a performance of the highest quality as he hit a hat-trick to put the hosts in a commanding lead before Jianrong Zhu struck twice to half the deficit.
Prior to that, the Flower of Shanghai were unbeaten in 11 consecutive league outings stretching back to last season, picking up seven wins and four draws since a 2-0 loss to Henan Songshan Longmen in December.
Wu Jingui’s men have now won five and drawn two of their eight games to collect 17 points and sit fourth in the Super League standings, level on points with Henan Songshan Longmen and five off league leaders Wuhan Three Towns.
On the other hand, Hebei were sent crashing back down to earth as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Shanghai Port when the sides met on Monday.
Zhang Wei netted in the 58th minute to cancel out Wenjun Lyu’s first-half opener, but 20-year-old forward Liu Zhurun struck with 13 minutes left in the game to hand the Red Eagles all three points.
Prior to that, Jong-boo’s men snapped their run of 15 consecutive games without a win when they saw off Wuhan 2-1 on June 30 courtesy of a brace from Wei.
Hebei have picked up three points from a possible 24 so far to sit 17th in the league standings, only above rock-bottom Guangzhou City who have lost each of their eight games this season.
Their early struggles have been in no small part owing to their defensive frailties as Hebei currently hold the league’s second-worst defensive record with 20 goals conceded.
While they will be looking to return to winning ways and begin their surge from the lower echelons of the table, next up is an opposing side that they have failed to defeat in five straight attempts, losing three and picking up two draws since a 2-1 victory in 2019.
Jianrong Zhu was a standout performer in the defeat against Wuhan Three Towns last time out and the 30-year-old will push for a starring role on Thursday.
He should team up with former Henan Songshan Longmen forward Christian Bassogog, who boasts one goal and two assists to his name this season.
At the opposite end of the pitch, the ever-present duo of Chenjie Zhu and Junhao Bi should form a centre-back pairing once again, with Zhen Ma standing between the sticks.
Meanwhile, Hebei could be without the goalscoring threat of Wei after the 22-year-old forward was hooked off with a 76th-minute injury against Shanghai Port on Monday.
Wei, who has scored all of the visitors’ five goals this season, could be replaced by 21-year-old forward Yang Yixuan, while we expect to see a midfield trio of Huaze Gao, Daogang Yao and Liao Wei.
Shanghai Shenhua possible starting lineup:
Ma; Li, Bi, Zhu, Bai; N’Doumbou, Wang, Sun, Cao; Bassogog, Zhu
Hebei possible starting lineup:
Bao; Cui, Pan, Zhang, Ding; X Yao, Yunan; D Yao, Gao, L Wei; Yixuan