Preview: Chengdu Qianbao vs. Tianjin Jinmen Tiger

Preview: Chengdu Qianbao vs. Tianjin Jinmen Tiger

A key contest at the top end of the Chinese Super League table will take place at the Chengdu Phoenix Mountain Sports Park on Thursday, as Chengdu Qianbao entertain Tianjin Jinmen Tiger.

Thanks to three consecutive victories, the hosts find themselves second in the top flight with a three-point gap to leaders Shanghai Port, while their visitors are just four points behind in fourth spot after 11 league games.

After finishing fifth in their first-ever Chinese Super League season last time around, Chengdu Qianbao have enjoyed an impressive start to the new term too, currently sitting second as one of the two sides still unbeaten after the opening 11 rounds of top-flight fixtures.

Seo Jung-won’s side immediately established themselves in the leading pack in the first few weeks as they managed three wins alongside two stalemates from their opening five outings, before having to settle for three consecutive draws as they were firstly held to 2-2 draws against Shandong Taishan and Changchun Yatai by injury-time equalisers, before scoring a late goal of their own through Felipe to see their trip to Wuhan Three Towns finish level at three goals apiece.

They have since been able to build on that late comeback and return to their best in style and head into Thursday on the back of three wins in a row, starting with a 2-1 beating of fellow high-flyers Shanghai Shenhua thanks to Elkeson’s 87th-minute winner from the penalty spot, before making it back-to-back three-point hauls and climbing into second spot by beating Nantong Zhiyun 1-0 as Felipe hit the only goal of the contest 18 minutes from time.

Seo Jung-won’s men would then face a particularly difficult trip to league leaders Shanghai Port on Saturday, and with the game still goalless, they were dealt a blow as Zhuoyi Feng was sent off in the 72nd minute, only for his side to defy the odds and come out on top in dramatic fashion regardless, with Manuel Palacios popping up with a winner in the 92nd minute.

That result saw Chengdu Qianbao cut the gap to Shanghai Port to just three points, and they will aim to improve their claim for top spot with what would be a fourth straight league win on Thursday.

In their way, however, stand the only other side who are yet to taste defeat in China’s top flight this term, as the visitors arrive hoping to build on their own impressive start and push for a place in the top three.

While Tianjin Jinmen Tiger have not enjoyed the highs that their hosts have so far this term, they have been equally solid, amassing 19 points from their opening 11 matches while only conceding nine goals along the way.

With four wins and seven draws now on the board, the Tigers picked up two three-point hauls from their opening three games before sharing the points in each of the following three and beating Henan 1-0 in mid-May.

Following another pair of stalemates, the visitors’ most recent triumph came away at Dalian Pro at the end of May, as a Zhiwei Song own goal deep into injury time made the only difference between the teams, before hosting defending champions Wuhan Three Towns and coming away with another point as the contest finished level at a goal apiece, with Wang Qiuming equalising in the 14th minute for the Tigers after Ademilson gave their visitors an early lead.

Now sitting fourth thanks to their positive start to the season, with a three-point gap to the top three and a four-point gap to Thursday’s hosts, Yu Genwei’s side will look to start adding more notches to their wins column and move further into the fight at the top of the division, starting with what would be a pivotal victory on their travels.

Chengdu Qianbao Chinese Super League form:

Tianjin Jinmen Tiger Chinese Super League form:

We say: Chengdu Qianbao 2-1 Tianjin Jinmen Tiger
With two resilient sides preserving unbeaten records squaring off, it is difficult to pick a winner on Thursday, but the hosts have hit their stride with three wins on the bounce, and on home turf, we fancy them to outclass the visitors and hand Tianjin Jinmen Tiger a first league defeat of the campaign.

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