As an emerging economic powerhouse that has those in authority over here in the financially troubled west worried sick, it was perhaps only a matter of time before China started to make waves on the football scene.
As has been proved over the years, players go where the money is and if the money can be had in China, then that is where the players will end up and you only have to look at Shanghai Shenhua for the proof. Somewhat improbably, the Flower of Shanghai now boast former Chelsea stars Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka among their ranks, which is an incredible state of affairs.
When you consider that Drogba’s last kick for the Blues was the winning penalty in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in May, you understand what a statement of intent it is from a league that clearly means business.
Short odds like those chalked up for United are a no-no in friendly matches, especially given the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson’s side failed to beat Ajax Cape Town on Saturday at a considerably shorter price.
OK, Drogba and Anelka are the wrong side of 30 and are winding down their careers, but for Shanghai to sign both players is a huge coup for the club and Chinese football as a whole, and is surely a sign of things to come if clubs continue to splash the cash on astronomical wages and promise players the earth.
The side for whom Anelka is captain and assistant manager (I always thought when watching Anelka’s career that he was a real selfless leader of men) are looking to boost their profile, and what better way to do that than with a prestige fixture against a renowned Premier League side?
It is Manchester United who have taken the bait, with the Red Devils themselves looking to gain some exposure from the fixture (you do wonder what clubs are going to do when every single mile of the globe is converted to football) and the two sides meet on Wednesday as United look to build towards the new season.
The Red Devils are 3/10 odds-on favourites with bwin to win the match, with the draw quoted at 9/2 and the home side the outsiders at 29/4, but all of those odds leave me somewhat cold.
Short odds like those chalked up for United are a no-no in friendly matches, especially given the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson’s side failed to beat Ajax Cape Town on Saturday at a considerably shorter price. Bur similarly, Shanghai are not pulling up any trees in the CLS, currently lying in 12th position just three points above the relegation zone.
So I’m not interested in the 29/4 they beat United, even though the Old Trafford side have not been convincing at all in two pre-season outings, scoring only two goals and looking as rusty as you might expect.
So instead I’ll look at the 33/20 that there are under 2.5 goals. It is swimming against the tide a little, but without Wayne Rooney and their other Euro 2012 stars United have looked a bit out of sorts, while Shanghai have only scored 17 in their 18 league games.
They have only conceded 19, though, and their defensive solidity might keep the score down with United still feeling their way back into the groove. With the odds short for lots of goals and a United win, it may be worth having a little go on the opposite happening.
Recommended bet: Under 2.5 goals @ 33/20
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