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ACL Preview: Shanghai SIPG vs Ulsan Hyundai

Ulsan Hyundai are in Shanghai this Tuesday night for the last round of the Asian Champions League group stages. The Horangi have already qualified top of the group thanks to an excellent unbeaten run, but they could still have a say in who qualifies alongside them as their hosts SIPG need a win to go through in second. Ulsan columnist Daniel Croydon has all you need to know before kickoff.

Last Time Out

Suwon Samsung Bluewings 1-3 Ulsan Hyundai
Kim Do-hoon's side held on to top-spot in K League 1 thanks to a superb second-half display at Suwon's Big Bird Stadium last Saturday. Young winger Lee Dong-kyung put the visitors ahead on 29 minutes with a well-taken goal (his first in Korea's top flight), but a VAR-assisted penalty gave Yeom Ki-hun the opportunity to equalise from the spot just before halftime. Ulsan clearly felt hard done by as Kim In-sung's "push" in the box seemed nothing more than a gentle caress on the Suwon attacker's back.

The Horangi came out fighting in the second half and retook the lead after just ten minutes when Suwon's Waguininho turned the ball into his own net while trying to prevent a low cross reaching Ulsan striker Junior. Giant defender Kim Su-an sealed the deal for the visitors a minute from time with a powerful header leaving Suwon without a win in four home games. Ulsan meanwhile, are now unbeaten in six meetings with Suwon since the Bluewings knocked them out of last year's ACL.

Highlights: here   


Previous Meetings

The first meeting between these two back in March was a tight affair, decided by a single goal from Ulsan's Junior. In a game of few chances, it was the Horangi's top scorer who broke the deadlock just after the hour mark with a neat header from a Kim Bo-kyung corner. Shanghai applied some late pressure, drawing several saves from Oh Seung-hoon, but the Horangi held strong to take a deserved victory.

The two teams met at this stage last year too, with the game in Shanghai ending in a 2-2 draw. Ulsan twice took the lead that night but were quickly pegged back on both occasions by the Brazilain wizard Oscar.

Team News

This match is a dead rubber for the Korean side, so Kim Do-hoon is expected to field a heavily changed team from the one that beat Suwon at the weekend. Star players Mix Diskerud, Junior and Kim Bo-kyung have all stayed behind in Korea. That means reserve striker Joo Min-kyu is most likely to lead the line, supported by youngsters Lee Dong-kyung and Park Ha-bin.  Lee Keun-ho, Park Yong-woo, and Shin Jin-ho are amongst some of the more familiar faces that have traveled to China. Elsewhere, experienced winger Hwang Il-soo made his first appearance of the season last weekend as a late sub, and he could see some action on Tuesday too, although he will probably do so off the bench.

Hwang Il-soo could feature after overcoming an Achilles issue.

The Adversary

The Chinese giants may have made their customary strong start to the domestic season, but three draws in a row in the ACL means that SIPG must win this match to book their place in the knockout round. Manager Vitor Pereira's men currently have a slim one-point advantage over Kawasaki Frontale, meaning that their fate is in their own hands going into Tuesday night.

The Brazilian trio of Hulk, Oscar, and Elkeson will be the dangermen as always, and Pereira is bound to unleash their full force in order to get the result his club demands. If Shanghai do progress, they know that a tough match-up with another K League team in Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors awaits.

Prediction

Whatever team Kim Do-hoon decides to put out, it is unlikely they will be a match for Shanghai SIPG in front of their own fans. The Chinese Champions will be throwing everything they have at what is bound to be a makeshift Ulsan defence, and in their Brazilian triumvirate, they have players who can score goals from relatively nothing. I think it will be a comfortable home win that Ulsan will quickly brush off before turning their focus to the Round of 16.

Prediction: Shanghai SIPG 2-0 Ulsan Hyundai



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