The Chinese know that a draw would be enough to seal a place in the third round of qualifying.
With 13 points in the bag from six games, the Dragons are second only to Syria in Group A, and six clear of second-placed Philippines, whom they beat 2-0 in their last game.
Since they're hosting the next edition of the Asia Cup, Tie Li's side have no need to qualify. This has allowed them to focus solely on next year's showpiece in Qatar, having been absent from the world stage since their 2002 appearance.
The Maldives, eliminated from the World Cup race, are hoping to keep their Asia Cup dreams alive. They're second from bottom with six points and might have to improve their goal difference to avoid dropping into the playoffs.
China vs Maldives Head-To-Head
China have a 100% win record against Maldives from their previous five clashes. This includes a 5-0 drubbing away from home when the sides met in the first leg of their encounter in September 2019.
China Form Guide (all competitions): L-L-W-W-W
Maldives Form Guide (all competitions): L-L-LW-L
China vs Maldives Team News
Head coach Tie Li has played the same lineup for two consecutive games against Guam and the Philippines, which yielded a combined victory of 9-0. There's no reason why he'd alter a successful side at this stage.
Martin Koopman, however, will likely ring the changes following his side's 4-0 drubbing at the hands of high-flying Syria.
Top-scorer and star player Ali Ashfaq, who was an unused substitute in that match, might start upfront. Meanwhile, senior member of the squad, Ali Fasir, could join him in the attack.
China vs Maldives Predicted XI
China (4-4-2): Junling Yan; Miao Tang, Linpeng Zhang, Tyias Browning, Shenchao Wang; Jingdao Jin, Xi Wu, Xinghan Wu, Xizhe Zhang; Lei Wu, Elkeson.
Maldives (4-3-3): Mohamed Faisal; Ahmed Numaan, Akram Ghanee, Samooh Ali, Ibrahim Aisham; Imran Nasheed, Mohamed Umair, Hussain Nihan; Ali Fasir, Ali Ashfaq, Hamza Mohamed.
China vs Maldives Prediction
China not only hold a dominant record in this fixture but have a better squad at their disposal too. We expect them to beat the Maldives comfortably once again.
Prediction: China 3-0 Maldives
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