Shanghai could have too much firepower
Asian Champions League quarter-final
It's quarter-final time in the AFC Champions League, with clubs from just five nations vying for a place in November’s final.
The last-eight first legs begin with an all-Chinese affair as Shanghai SIPG host CSL rivals Guangzhou Evergrande.
If the domestic standings are anything to go by, it should a hotly-contested quarter-final with the sides occupying first and second positions in the Chinese Super League, and pulling clear of the rest.
League leaders Guangzhou are the side in form having won five of their last six outings in all competitions and bookmakers certainly expect them to be the side who make it through to the semi-finals.
Luis Felipe Scolari’s two-time champions are 3-1 to win the competition and 8-11 to get past Shanghai. However, how they perform without linchpin Paulinho who has departed for Barcelona is anyone’s guess.
The Brazilian has been central to Guangzhou’s recent success and were it not for his two goals in the previous round against Kashima Antlers of Japan, the Southern China Tigers would not be in this position at all.
Scolari has other match-winners at his disposal in the shape of compatriots Alan and Ricardo Goulart, but they could find themselves outgunned by the emerging force of Chinese football.
Shanghai SIPG only began playing in the top tier in 2013 but they have made big strides ever since, flexing their financial muscles to great effect.
They made the quarter-finals in their debut Champions League campaign last season, and the signs are that they are continuing to progress.
Former Tottenham and Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has a dynamic attacking unit at his disposal including Brazilian trio Hulk, Oscar and Elkeson, who scored 59 goals in 72 appearances for Guangzhou.
The Red Eagles were 2-1 victors when the sides met in the Chinese Cup six days ago and can replicate that home triumph today.
1pt 23-20 Betway