Tianjin Teda v Qingdao Huanghai | Saturday 22nd August 2020, 11:00
Whilst all eyes in the Chinese Super League this Saturday will come in the afternoon when two of the big boys Beijing Guoan and Shanghai SIPG take on one another, there is an appetising contest commencing a few hours prior.
This comes in the form of Tianjin Teda versus Qingdao Huanghai, which will take place at a neutral venue in Suzhou. Neither have any real advantage nor disadvantage in that regard as both have played here within the last few weeks.
A big concern for Teda heading into this one was seeing their star player Frank Acheampong, once of Anderlecht, struggle with a shoulder injury in the last game. He was forced off a few times and returned trying to valiantly carry on, but he was forced off after 31 minutes. Whilst we cannot necessarily call him a prolific scorer, he is very much central to this team from an attacking perspective. Without him, they are very limited in attack to say the least.
Huanghai might not have won since returning from the lockdown in five attempts but the last four of those have been draws, including two versus Beijing Guoan and Shanghai SIPG, so they deserve plenty of credit for this mini run. The challenge now is to turn some of those into wins as this would seriously boost their prospects of reaching the play-offs in their maiden campaign at this level.
I mentioned how Teda are struggling for goals, well they aren’t so clever defensively, either. They’ve shipped 13 goals in five matches, Going into matches knowing that you need at least two goals to stand a good chance of avoiding defeat makes life incredibly tough, so facing a Qingdao outfit that scored three against Guoan, from 3-0 down, to draw last time out isn’t something they may relish.
An odds on price on Qingdao Huanghai to win doesn’t necessarily appeal to me considering they are indeed six without a win. They are the most likely winners, especially if Tianjin are missing Acheampong, but there is no real value to backing them in that regard. There is however another positive avenue we can take and I have located a goalscorer price which looks somewhat generous.
Does the name Romain Alessandrini ring a bell? Well, those who follow football in France and the USA will be undoubtedly aware. The former Marseille and LA Galaxy man is now testing himself in the Chinese game and he is doing a pretty good job thus far.
Qingdao have six goals this season, and the 31-year-old Frenchman is responsible for four of them. They came in the form of braces against Shijiazhuang and Guoan last weekend. Those four goals came from 13 shots on goal, which is significantly more than any of player in the squad.
His importance to the team is paramount, and the fact we can get a price of 2/1 on him just to score at any point in the 90 minutes is way, way too good to resist. Teda are one of the worst teams in the Chinese top flight, and they certainly are in this particular group.
Qingdao will be targeting three points from this and their best chance of doing so is getting Alessandrini on the ball in and around the final third. He loves a shot and he knows he’s the best player on this team.
Los Angeles v LA Galaxy | Saturday 22nd August 2020, 23:00 | Sky Sports
Major League Soccer is back is its usual format after the MLS is Back Tournament gave all the clubs a chance to blow away the cobwebs following the prolonged lockdown.
A few clubs have already resumed action and Saturday night affords rivals Los Angeles (LAFC) and LA Galaxy their opportunities to do so. Both enter this with something of a point to prove after they both under-performed by their standards in the tournament. LAFC lost in the quarter-final, whilst the Galaxy didn’t make it out the group stage.
A big reason for the struggles of LA Galaxy was the injury sustained by Javier Hernandez and it remains to be seen if he will be fit enough to return for this big clash. Jonathan dos Santos is another key performer on the roster and the Mexican is another with injury concerns that are doubtful of improving before Saturday.
Nevertheless, the Galaxy make the short trip to Banc of California Stadium looking for their third win in what will be the eight head-to-head battle.
LAFC played some rather scintillating football at times in the tournament phase. They were starting to look like their old selves and a 6-2 win over LA Galaxy only last month was certainly the high point on their competition. They would smash Seattle Sounders 4-1 a week later, with a draw to eventual tournament winners Portland Timbers sandwiched in-between.
Going forward, LAFC don’t really have any issues, and the fact they scored so many goals without their talisman Carlos Vela made it even more impressive. The former Arsenal youngster decided against playing because of the pandemic, but he is set to return here.
Vela may be rusty, but just having him back will be a big boost. Already they’ve got players in the calibre of Bradley Wright-Phillips and Diego Rossi causing problems in attack, but the key for this team is being convincing defensively, as that is what will win them trophies.
That being said, they failed to keep a single clean sheet in the MLS in Back competition and in three of the matches conceded two or more goals. Bob Bradley sets his team up to play this high tempo attacking game with a high press, but it does leave them vulnerable at the back at times, and they can get punished. Their motto is seemingly to outscore the opposition, and they at least have the weapons in their armoury to do so.
LA Galaxy clearly need that focal figure in attack to spearhead this team. Zlatan Ibrahimovic did this so well and although Chicharito is a different type of player to the big Swede, he is ultimately one of the biggest names in American soccer right now and just getting him on the pitch makes Galaxy that so much more dangerous. The facts doubts remain over his fitness concerns he about them causing a shock, but LAFC’s defensive frailties does open the door somewhat. Goals are pretty much nailed on in this contest.
So much so, I’m happy to take on a rather large bet builder conforming on LAFC Double Chance, Both Teams To Score and Over 3 Goals, which is priced at 21/20 (Bet365).
LAFC are clearly the most likely winners and are odds on, but they do sometimes have these games where they make life so much harder than necessary, and getting Hernandez fit in the away team would probably change the prices somewhat. BTTS has occurred in every H2H meeting, with six of the seven witnessing at least four goals. Don’t go to bed too early on Saturday night and get this one on the box, as it will not disappoint.