The last time Guangzhou Evergrande did not win the Championship in China, Kim Jong-un was yet to be named President of North Korea, England was still very much a part of the European Union with no intention for a Brexit then. But seven years is a long time and Guangzhou have had a stranglehold on the Chinese Super League ever since their promotion as League One winners in 2010. Putting things in perspective, Guangzhou have been Champions of China for a longer stretch than Bayern have dominated the Bundesliga.
Evergrande as a team have been a tsunami wave, a wave that swept everything in its path and defined the modern era of Chinese football, but like a wise man once said, every crest leads to a trough. So, eventually this tsunami has to break and the 2018 season could finally see a Chinese Champion not named Guangzhou Evergrande.
People expected this to happen last season too with Shanghai SIPG flexing their wealth and getting in big names like Oscar and Hulk on their payroll. But as good as they were for most of the season, they eventually ran out of steam and limped into second place as Guangzhou sent off Scolari with another title.
With Scolari leaving the champions, it was imperative that they recruit well and while Fabio Cannavaro is on paper a great coach in the Chinese game, I am still sceptical of his ability to guide a team as big as Guangzhou.
The success seen at Guangzhou is something never achieved here in China and eventually, the law of averages will catch up with the team. Shanghai, despite the limited game time we’ve seen this term, look like the real deal. Offensively, they’re as good as anyone with the likes of Hulk and Oscar leading the line. Defensively too they look astute and have been solid so far. That is the kind of combination that leads to championships. The entirety of Guangzhou is based on a potent attack backed by a solid defence. If Shanghai manages to do that for the most part of the campaign, they will end up with a legitimate chance winning the League.
Believe me when I say that this season is going to have one of the most exciting races for the Championship in years in this country and it’s not just teams like Shanghai SIPG, Guangzhou Evergrande in the mix. Shandong Luneng, Guangzhou R&F, Tianjin Quanjian, Hebei China and Beijing Guoan all have the firepower to have a say in the title race. This season promises to be a cracking season and we may finally have a Champion that is not named Guangzhou Evergrande come autumn.