AFC - Asian Football Confederation

02/15/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/14/2018 19:49

AFC Champions League Analysis: Slick Shanghai SIPG make steady start February 15 2018

While the hosts had more of the ball in the Group F encounter, a more direct approach ensured Vitor Pereira's side left with all three points thanks to Elkeson's 23rd-minute strike.

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Defensive diligence pays dividends

Kawasaki had 65 percent of the possession in this encounter but, unless the ball was in their half, Shanghai were mostly content to leave the hosts to it.

The visitors sprang into life as soon as it crossed the halfway line though, applying pressure sharply and in numbers and giving Kawasaki's ball-players very few chances to create danger.

Over the 90 minutes Shanghai SIPG made 61 recoveries and 16 interceptions (as shown in the above graphic), as well as throwing their bodies in the way of three attempts on goal by making defensive blocks in the penalty area.

Kawasaki caught in their own Neto

The difference in the two sides' approaches was epitomised in their respective passing patterns.

Defensive midfielder Eduardo Neto was involved in each of Kawasaki's top five combinations, with the Brazilian exchanging the ball with centre-backs Shogo Taniguchi and Tatsuki Nara 100 times, as well as sending 24 passes in the direction of his midfield partner Ryota Oshima.

The visitors' most oft-repeated permutations came closer to the business end of the pitch though, with transitions between pairings of Odil Ahmedov, Hulk, Wu Lei and Oscar accounting for the their top three combinations (44 passes).

Oscar on the offensive

Part of the reason Shanghai SIPG were able to sit tight so comfortably after taking the lead was that they - and Kawasaki - knew they carried a threat on the counter attack.

Oscar was pivotal in this sense, with the Brazilian looking dangerous whenever he got on the ball and always trying to make something happen.

Eleven of the 26-year-old's 51 passes were played long, and he achieved a 74.5 percent competition rate. That willingness to quickly turn defence into attack kept Kawasaki on edge and prevented the hosts from ever really threatening to gain a foothold in the game.

Kawasaki were 10 games into their 2017 campaign before they tasted defeat but, having suffered a loss in their opening fixture, they will now look to bounce back on next week's visit to Korea Republic's Ulsan Hyundai. Shanghai, meanwhile, will host Australia's Melbourne Victory.