Shanghai SIPG: Treble winners or perfect bridesmaids?
Many of us are aware of Shanghai SIPG as the home of Brazilian maestros Hulk and Oscar. Like other Chinese clubs, Shanghai has generally grabbed the headlines for high profile transfers, making little waves in the footballing world later on.
However this season, the club is on the cusp of history as it battles on three fronts to become the first Chinese side to win a treble.
What makes it interesting is the fact that the club was formed only 12 years ago and Andre Villas-Boas, the current manager, is still in his first season in China.
It all sounds like a fairy tale, doesn’t it? Here’s the worst case scenario though; Shanghai SIPG may well end up being runners-up on all three fronts, especially after the latest hurdle.
The club’s head coach Villas-Boas has been handed an eight match ban by the Chinese FA for insulting referees, virtually ending his season in the dugout.
The company-owned club is currently sitting at second place in the league table, trailing rivals and champions Guangzhou Evergrande by four points.
They faced the same opponents in the Chinese FA Cup and the AFC Champions League, coming out on top in both fixtures. In the domestic cup, SIPG face their city rivals Shanghai Shenhua in a two-legged final.
It must be noted that two weeks ago, the red half of Shanghai thrashed their adversaries 6-1 in the league derby. As Hulk and SIPG’s top scorer this term, Lei Wu, grabbed braces, Carlos Tevez scored a consolation for Shenhua.
On the continental front, Villas-Boas has made history in guiding SIPG into the last four of the AFC Champions League for the first time in their short history.
They then managed to defeat Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Evergrande in a close penalty shootout in the quarter-finals before drawing 1-1 in the semi-final first leg against Japanese side Urawa Reds at the Shanghai stadium.
And even more impressive is how they have avoided defeat on home turf across all competitions over the past 15 months.
It must be said that Villas-Boas has had a remarkable first season so far, going head-to-head against traditional heavyweights and champions of the last six seasons, Evergrande.
Despite the rich vein of form, the Portuguese has been constantly at loggerheads with the national authorities. When Oscar was banned for eight games in June for sparking a mass brawl, Villas-Boas gave him company by hitting out at the FA for ‘injustices’.
And when his side faced Evergrande in the second-leg of the champions league quarter-finals, he accused the opponents of staging a series of car accidents to delay his side’s arrival at the stadium.
Shanghai are doing their best to live up to their expectations when they first splurged insane amounts on marquee signings by passing a series of tests throughout the campaign.
However, as the season comes to an end, they now face their make or break moment as they head onto the pitch without a manager on the sidelines.
It remains to be seen if Shanghai will be the bridesmaid like every other team in the country for the last half a decade or finally displace the bride of the league.http://www.mediareferee.com/2017/10/shanghai-sipg-treble-winners-perfect-bridesmaids/Post