A few seating areas are still closed after that fire back in March. However there are reports that the whole stadium will reopen for the big cup match which takes place next Wednesday against old enemies Beijing Guoan. That game is sure to be a fire-and-brimstone encounter, as both teams have pretty much shit the bed in the league and the Chinese FA Cup is only thing either have left to play for. In China, cup games go to straight to penalties after 90 minutes if there is no winner, so if you’ve never seen a shoot-out live in a stadium, this game could be a good bet.
SIPG fans at the Shanghai Derby. Let's keep it orderly, lads.
So what’s been happening since our last soccer update? Fans of Shenhua - look away now. In a typically dramatic Shanghai derby a couple of weeks back, SIPG scored twice in the last few minutes to win 3-1 at Shenhua’s home ground to make a painful return to Hongkou after two months away due to the fire.
SIPG cemented their status as the top team in the city, with the red side of town causing a bit of a scuffle inside the stadium. A “Don’t cry Shenhua, Come on Asian Champions League!” flag waved at Shenhua fans was the kind of banner insulting rival supporters that you might commonly spot in European football stadiums, but the police didn’t see it that way and snatched it away.
Settle down now, SIPG. That's not very sporting.
Not content with that, next day a large bunch of SIPG fans turned up outside Shenhua’s training ground in Kangqiao, Pudong to see the match between the two reserve sides. SIPG’s mob weren't allowed in, so they stood outside chanting “Shanghai team” which was a subtle dig at Shenhua no longer being the city’s top team. Social media also was abuzz with a pair of female SIPG fans who took selfies whilst flipping the bird towards the front gate of Shenhua’s training around. It’s a divided city out there folks.
This aggression will not stand!
Shenhua fans responded this week with a meme mocking SIPG forward Wu Lei’s terrible performance in front of goal for the Chinese national team against Syria on Tuesday. It featured the Nanjing-born player on a condom with the tagline, “Once you wear this, you only have a 0.02% chance of getting through”.
Not the best Photoshop job in the world but message sent.
Recently, SIPG are totally on fire and have won their last 5 games in a row. They’re 2nd in the league behind Guangzhou Evergrande and their fanbase is starting to believe this could be their year. And in a surprising coincidence, these two teams will meet in an all-Chinese Asian Champions League quarter final. Those games don’t happen until the end of August but SIPG is single-handedly putting Shanghai on the football map so far this year. They are in action the weekend after next, details along with other games in town below.
Saturday June 17, at 7.35pm: Shanghai Shenhua v Chongqing Lifan @ Hongkou Stadium (Chinese Super League)
Wednesday June 21, at 8pm: Shanghai Shenhua v Beijing Guoan @ Hongkou Stadium (Chinese FA Cup)
Sunday June 25, at 7.35pm: Shanghai SIPG v Henan Jianye @ Shanghai Stadium (Chinese Super League)