Andre Villas-Boas is expecting an attacking game as Shanghai SIPG take on Japanese side Urawa Red Diamonds with both clubs looking to book a place in the final of the Asian Champions League.
The teams played out a 1-1 draw in Shanghai three weeks ago to give Urawa a slender advantage but, with both teams having scored regularly throughout the campaign, the former Chelsea manager is expecting more of the same at Saitama Stadium on Wednesday evening.
“I’m very happy to be at the semifinal stage,” he said. “It will be a very special game for both sides.
“I believe the two teams will attack aggressively. We will show our full power in order to deny them a goal. They’re an outstanding team but we hope to qualify with a win. SIPG is a club with ambition.
“Urawa is a well-integrated team with a strong style. They make a lots of passes and are very creative in matches. They haven’t been super strong in their domestic league but being in the last four of the Asian Champions League shows their quality.”
Villas-Boas’ team boasts one of the most effective attacking lines in Asia, with Brazilian forward Hulk the tournament’s leading scorer with nine goals and additional support coming from China international Wu and former Chelsea star Oscar.
SIPG will need that trio to be on form on Wednesday evening as Shanghai must score to keep the tie alive.
“Regardless of how much shooting practice we do in training, there will be lots of factors that affect our scoring efficiency, such as the defence, the performance of the defenders and the goalkeeper, and sometimes you need a bit of luck too,” Villas-Boas said.
“But we will keep trying, because only by creating opportunities could there be goals.”
SIPG’s inconsistency in the Chinese Super League, where they trail Guangzhou Evergrande by six points with three games to play, means the continental championship has gained increased importance for Villas-Boas and his team.
The club have never reached this stage of the competition, having been knocked out last year in the quarterfinals under Sven-Goran Eriksson, but the ex-Tottenham boss, who won the Europa League during his team at Porto, hopes to celebrate his birthday by securing a place in next month’s final.
“Success in qualifying would be a great gift,” Villas-Boas, who turned 40 on Tuesday, said. “We want to show who we are in the match tomorrow. If we qualify, it will be a reward for the entire team, not just for my birthday.”
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch