CSL Mid-Season Review part 2: The Top Half

The Chinese Super League has reached its halfway point and we stop and take a look at how the teams have done, some have impressed, others have failed miserably, while yet others have done nothing at all.

The teams have been graded on a scale from 1-10 on how their season has gone so far and compared to the expectations prior to the season. We started from the bottom and worked our way upwards. In the second part one you’ll get teams eight through one.

8th Place – Shanghai Shenhua – 6.5/10

With the squad that Shanghai has, the team should be in the mix for the Champions League spots if not fighting for the Championship. The disappointment can be attributed to the imbalance in Shenhua’s squad. Tevez, the world’s highest paid footballer is in and out of the team and has rarely shown the ability that made him one of Europe’s most feared strikers.

Lack of consistency has also hurt Shanghai’s chances. The run of 6 matches without a win in May and June ensured that it will be an uphill task to get to the Champions League draw.

The club have taken a step backwards after finishing fourth last time around. While bettering that result is going to be difficult, consistency is going to be key for Shanghai is they aim to secure a league finish worthy of the club’s illustrious history.

7th Place – Beijing Guoan – 7/10

Another club that should right up there fighting for honors. Got off to another poor start as Beijing sat a lowly 11th after the first few games. Results picked up and then dropped off more than once as games progressed. Having seen enough, the club said their goodbyes to Jose Gonzalez. Roger Schmidt was given the job of securing a good finish to the season.

The signing of Johnathan Soriano has been a shrewd one. Inconsistency has hurt the side and a steady run of wins might change the perspective of how this season is graded.

6th Place – Guangzhou R&F – 7.5/10

Started really brightly and led the league briefly. But R&F soon became a draw churning machine. The form of individual players like Renatinho and Eran Zahavi has trailed off despite the latter being the leader in the Golden Boot race.

Guangzhou drew their previous 7 games before managing to win their last one at Tianjin TEDA. The wretched run came after a bright start in which they won 5 out of 6 games drawing the other against Evergrande in the Canton Derby.

Individual player performances have to pick up and the team needs to start putting the collective interest of the team ahead of theirs. Poised for a disappointing finish, a couple of wins on the trot might change how we look at R&F’s season.

5th place, Shandong Luneng 8/10

Made a very good start to their campaign and were in the Champions League bracket for most of the first half of the campaign. But the emergence of Heibei China and Tianjin Quanjian has changed that, and the club start the second half of the campaign in 5th place.

Diego Tardelli is in the form of his life and is one of the front runners in the Golden Boot race. He has scored 11 goals and saved and earned a lot of points for his side.

For Shandong to comeback and secure a Champions League spot would make it a memorable season. They will rely heavily on Tardelli’s ability to get on the score sheet but have an ideal supporting cast that could give any team a run for their money.

4th place, Tianjin Quanjian – 9/10

From China League One Champions to Champions League chasing. What an incredible turnaround under Fabio Cannavaro.

Much of the credit for Tianjin’s season goes to the fact that they have a well-rounded squad led by Belgian Axel Witsel. Though marred by controversy in the initial few matchweek, the player and the club have made a steady and under the radar climb to fourth place in the Super League.

The stage is set for a brilliant finish and after their performances in the first half of the campaign, a drop off in results and performances would be a huge disappointment.

3rd Place, Hebei China – 8/10

Have had a very strong season until now. Though it is highly unlikely that Heibei will mount a legitimate title threat in the second half of the campaign, they are in the perfect position.

They will almost surely better their 7th place finish from last season. Having one of the meanest leagues of the season has helped. Lavezzi has found some form and is finding the back of the net more often than he used to.

2nd Place, Shanghai SIPG – 9.5/10

There was no doubt that Shanghai would be a free scoring side having the likes of Oscar and Hulk in their starting lineup but not many would have predicted an average of over 2.5 goals per game. Another surprising factor has been Shanghai’s defense which has conceded a measly 12 goals till Round 15, the least yet.

Shanghai may be the most legitimate threat to Guangzhou’s reign in China.

The only thing that can bring Shanghai down is the player’s ability to keep their heads. Oscar’s antics handed him an 8 game match while Hulk was accused of striking an opposition coach.

1st Place, Guangzhou Evergrande – 10/10

This team is a machine. A juggernaut. After a slow start a run of 10 consecutive wins on the trot propelled Evergrande to the top of the pile. Though they lost their last match, it may be a speed bump in their quest for a 7th consecutive crown.

As a team, Guangzhou need to do their best to keep Paulinho at least until the end of the season. He will be vital to their Championship credentials.

Scolari’s side remain perfectly placed to win the once again.