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ACL Preview: Shanghai SIPG vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

 

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors play their final game of an extended 2020 season hoping to add to their four-point tally that sees them third in Group H and eliminated before the knockouts. They face Shanghai SIPG for the fourth time in two seasons, hoping for some 2016 magic to spice up a fruitless Qatar trip. Peter Hampshire previews the clash. 

Last Time Out

Yokohama F. Marinos 4-1 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Jeonbuk's second defeat to Yokohama in this year's competition saw them eliminated at the Group Stage for the first time since 2012. In truth their performance had an air of inevitability about it as they solemnly succumbed to a much-changed line-up from Ange Postecoglou, having rested key man in their previous defeat to Shanghai. Theeraton Bunmathan gave Yokohama a half time lead, doubled  by Marcos Junior before Gustavo halved the deficit from the spot. Provider turned goalscorer Teruhito Nakagawa sealed the victory and Yokohama's place in the knockouts with his side's third before Song Bum-keun's miserable night was compounded with an own goal late on.




Jeonbuk suffered their heaviest ACL defeat since 2012 (5-1 vs Kashiwa Reysol)

Shanghai SIPG 0-4 Sydney FC

Courtesy of Shanghai's later kick off time, Vitor Pereira's could relax safe in the knowledge that knockout qualification was secured due to Jeonbuk's defeat. However, they perhaps took that news too much to heart being comprehensively beaten by two goals in each half. Former Jeonbuk defender Alex Wilkinson opened the scoring with his first ever ACL goal on 28 minutes, quickly followed by Luke Brattan adding a second. Trent Buhagiar's second half brace put some gloss on the score line and brings the A-League outfit level on points with Jeonbuk heading into Match Day 6.



                                [LISTEN: AFC Champions League East Preview]

Previous Meetings

Jeonbuk and Shanghai have met five times in the AFC Champions League in the past four years with both recording a victory each among three draws between the two sides. Most of these fixtures have been tight affairs with Hulk's late penalty earning Shanghai a vital three points in Doha just two weeks ago. 

The sides could not be split in 2019's tournament with the lottery of penalties being won by Shanghai in Jeonju after two 1-1 draws in either country, before the Chinese outfit succumbed to eventual finalists Urawa Reds on away goals in the next round. Jeonbuk's fondest memory of this fixture will undoubtedly be a quarter final 5-0 hammering of Shanghai in 2016, whereby Lee Dong-gook came off the bench to grab a brace on his way to lifting the trophy that November.

Kim Shin-wook in action during Jeonbuk's 5-0 2016 victory

Team News

After defeating Sydney on match day 4, Jose Morais named an unnamed starting eleven against Yokohama with Na Sung-eun keeping his place on the right having scored his first professional goal. Replaced by Cho Gue-sung at the break, fellow youngster Cho could be in line for a start this time out. Koo Ja-ryong continues to fill in at right back


Vitor Pereira dropped former Jeonbuk favourite Ricardo Lopes to the bench after he scored the decisive goal against Yokohama. The other goal scorer from that match, Cai Huikang also fell victim to squad rotation with former English Premier League stars Oscar and Aaron Mooy preferred to start. You can expect a lot more shuffling of the pack as Shanghai rest ahead of the knockouts. 

What To Watch

Fringe players given a chance to impress

While Jeonbuk's hand was forced in previous matches to field some inexperienced players due to injuries and Covid-related absences, Friday's game is a complete free hit in terms of team selection. Players such as Park Won-jae and keeper Lee Bum-young are yet to feature this season and would surely relish some game time having travelled to Qatar. In Park's case, it could be a nice gesture for the 36-year-old defender having been at the club for a decade. Youngsters Yun Ji-hyuk and Myung Se-jin could be handed their first minutes at the tournament while winger Lee Sung-yoon has shown glimpses of quality in a handful of K League appearances this season. 

Jose Morais on the touchline against Sydney

Jose's fond farewell?

Arriving in Jeonju in 2018 with a mixed managerial record consisting of an extensive list of clubs, Jose Morais took on the unenviable task of following the achievements of Choi Kang-hee. Successive league titles were followed by a rare FA Cup win for Jeonbuk on consecutive trophy-lifting weekends, culminating a successful two-year stint at the helm. With his contract rumoured to be finishing following the ACL, Jose's future is up in the air with current assistant Kim Sang-sik a possible replacement going forward. Having been knocked out on penalties by Shanghai SIPG last season in the Round of 16, this meeting is set to be much less dramatic.


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Prediction - Jeonbuk Hyundai 1-1 Shanghai SIPG

If you're looking at this fixture pessimistically, it's a dead rubber, which both sides would probably prefer to bypass in favour of resting legs in the case of Shanghai and an early exit for a Jeonbuk side who like many others in East Asia have endured a congested fixture list. These fixtures have historically been tight with both likely to field second string elevens to give youngsters a taste of ACL football. 

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