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Mohun Bagan AC

Jinan Olympic Sports Center Stadium, Jinan
2nd February, 2016

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Having defeated Tampine Rovers in the first round of 2016 AFC Champions League Qualifiers, I League champions travel to China to take on Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C. in the second round of qualifiers. Courtsey of their 3-1 win, Mohun Bagan became the first Indian side to win a match in the AFC Champions League qualifiers but now face a daunting task of beating Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C. at their home ground.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C.

Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C. finished third in the Chinese Super League last season and are coached by former Brazilian manager Mano Menezes who took over the reins of the club in December 2015. The Chinese Super League clubs have been dominant in transfer windows of late and have roped in a lot of Brazilian players and it is no surprise that except one all foreign players in the Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C. squad are Brazilians.

The 2016 edition of the Chinese League hasn’t yet started but that shouldn’t be an issue for Mano Menezes as he would be looking to win big in the match. 27-year-old custodian Wang Dalei is the first choice goalkeeper for the club and has 22 international caps to his name.

Zheng Zheng is the vital player in the defense for the team and has been with the club since 2008 amassing over 153 caps. The 26 year old also has two goals in 9 Chinese caps to his credit. Dai Lin, Zhao Mingjian and Wang Tong are the other prominent defenders in the team. The club has signed Brazilian central defender Gil for the upcoming season but the Brazilian international in unlikely to feature in this match.

Diego Tardelli will be the key man for Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C. in attack

Diego Tardelli will be the key man for Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C. in attack

Leading the midfield for the Orange Fighters is former Argentine international Walter Montillo. The attacking midfielder has been with the club since 2014 and has scored six times in 43 appearances for the club.

Brazilian central midfielder Jucilei is likely to start in the center of the park and will be entrusted with the defensive duties. The other prominent midfielders in the team are Hao Junmin and Wang Yongpo.

Hao Junmin carries with him the experience of playing for German club Schalke 04 and has eleven international goals to his name. 29 year old Wang Yongpo on the other hand has been with the club since 2007 and has 200 caps to his name. Brazilian striker Aloísio who had been in terrific form for the club scoring 32 goals in 55 games, has been ruled out of the game with an injury.

In his absence fellow Brazilian striker Diego Tardelli will lead the attack for the team. Tardelli has three goals to his name from the fourteen times he has played for Brazil and has since joining the Chinese club last year, has scored six goals. He will be accompanied in the attack by 28 year old Yang Xu who has scored 21 goals in 43 appearances for the Chinese National team.

Mohun Bagan AC

Mohun Bagan' s probable starting XI

Mohun Bagan’ s probable starting XI

The match against Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C. is Mohun Bagan’ s fourth match in eleven days and the Mariners have had only a day to acclimatize to the sub zero temperatures in China.

The biggest challenge for Sanjoy Sen will be to ensure that his players give their best without getting bogged down by the quality of the opponents.

The good thing for Bagan is that they come into the match on back of a 2-0 win over DSK Shivajians in the I League. Cornell Glen has failed to travel to China due to visa related issues and it remains to be seen what formation Sen plays in his absence.

Debjit Majumdar has been Bagan’ s first choice custodian this season and is expected start under the bar once again. Debjit played an important role in Bagan’ s title triumph last season and is likely to have a busy day under the bar.

Bagan’ s defense hasn’t looked compact in the I League so far and this would be playing on Sanjoy Sen’ s mind as well. Luciano Sabrosa led back-four which is likley to feature Kingshuk Debnath, Raju Gaikwad and Dhanachandra Singh will have to put their best foot forward in order to keep the duo of Diego Tardelli and Yang Xu under check.

Sen is likely to start with a 4-2-3-1 formation in a bid to deny the hosts free space in the center of the park. Sony Norde who scored a brace against DSK Shivajians will start on the left flank while Yusa Katsumi who usually starts on the right side may be given a more central role in this match.

Both Norde and Katsumi are vital players in the Bagan setup and will have to be at their best in this tough encounter. Haitian international Norde is the most creative player in the Bagan setup and will look to trouble the opposition defenders with his pace and trickery.

Pronay Halder and Souvik Chakraborty will act as defensive screen ahead of the four man defense and will be entrusted with the task of breaking down Shandong Luneng’ s attacks and keeping Walter Montillo under check. Kean Lewis looks set to occupy Katsumi’ s spot on the right flank in this match.

In the absence of Balwant Singh and Cornell Glen, the goal scoring responsibilities will fall on the shoulders of Jeje Lalpekhlua who had a stellar 2015 winning the I League, the Indian Super League and the SAFF Championships.

Prediction

Shandong Luneng Taishan FC 2-0 Mohun Bagan AC

The gulf between the two sides is quite evident and the home side start the match as overwhelming favorites considering the fact that Mohun Bagan’s defense hasn’t looked compact in the I League so far. TheHardTackle predicts a 2-0 loss for the Sanjoy Sen mentored side.

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