- After such optimism, Dalian’s start to the season could not have gone worse. They were outclassed by Shandong on an opening day, humiliated by Henan in their 2nd game and then soundly beaten by Jiangsu in their last match. With two goals conceded on average per game and 1.38xGA per game they should be worried coming up against this in form Shenhua attack
- When playing top half teams Dalian have also given up an average of 1.9 goals per game
- In their last meeting at the end of last season, Dalian also lost 2-1 losing the xG 2.3-0.51
- Dalian will also be blunted in attack with three attacking players out. Boateng, Shan Huanhuan, and Lin Liangming are all expected to miss out
- From Rafa’s 20 games in China so far we’ve seen very high scoring games (3.65 per game)
- From those 20 games, they have kept two clean sheets. One against Beijing Renhe last season (worst xG and goals count in the league) and Shenzhen (4th worst xG and 2nd worst for goals)
- With all this in mind, we can feel quite assured Shenhua will have plenty of chances.
- As for Dalian getting on the scoresheet themselves, I see it happening despite their lacklustre start. Dalian are a team that is cross heavy and rely on Aerial prowess (Both Rondon’s goals this season were headers/75% of Dalian's goals came from crosses) considering Shenhua’s weakness in that department (2nd worst for headers conceded last season) I would expect them to have some success in the air
- Shenhua lost their opening match against arguably the strongest team in the league (Evergrande) but put in decent displays beating Shenzhen 3-2 and Shandong 1-0
- Their last match was a bit of a smash and grab against one of the best defences in the league but they did still deserved the win (xG 1.6-0.64)
- When playing bottom 6 sides Shenhua have had a lot of success in the attacking third registering 2.1 goals per game in their last 10
- At the back however they’re still weak. (1.4 conceded even against the bottom 6)
- Shenhua’s team news is slightly better than Dalian. They have Bi Jinhao and Stéphane Mbia back in training
- Shenhua have been very reliant on the giant Korean Kim Shin-Wook since joining last winter. He’s currently averaging 0.78 goals per 90 in his CSL matches
- Cao Yunding has also been very influential with 0.54xG + xA last season and 0.75xG + xA this season.
- Shenhua will also be hoping for El Shaarawy and new signing Obafemi Martins to add to their output. Neither have contributed much this season
- Like Benitez, Kang-hee Choi current stint in China has seen his Shenhua side play in very high scoring games. From a sample of 22 domestic games Shenhua matches have averaged 3.5 per game.
Final word: There are a lot of arguments to be made for both teams finding the net at least once here so I feel obligated to pull the trigger at these odds. The CSL hasn’t been a gold mine for goals this season but this looks like match-up that shouldn’t disappoint.
Both teams to score: Yes at 1.61 with Bet365/Pinnacle (1.63 available in some places like 1xBet) - 2 units