CSL Preview: The big teams look to restore order after last round

The 17th round of the Chinese Super League is upon us and it starts today, with a matchup between Tianjin TEDA and Jiangsu Suning (look who’s not at the bottom anymore, albeit on goal difference).

TEDA lost last time out, 2-0 to Shandong Luneng, and should Suning somehow manage two good results in a row and win this one that will see them only one point behind today’s opponent. But Jiangsu still only have one win this season, the only team stuck at one, and Tianjin will be looking to shake off their slump of four winless games and actually score some goals for a change. They are currently last in the league in that category with just 10 goals scored. This is a matchup between two pretty weak sides so it’s anyone’s guess as to what the result might be.

Tomorrow starts off with recently-demoted-to-last-place Yanbian Funde welcoming we-still-can’t-take-the-lead-even-when-Guangzhou-bottles-it Shanghai SIPG. While Yanbian lost 4-0 to Chongqing, a result that doesn’t look good, it was second-placed Shanghai who had the worst time out last week and lost 4-2 to mid-table Changchun Yatai, in a performance that saw them down 3-0 at halftime. Shanghai will be looking for revenge and although Yanbian might hope that they can capitalise on last week’s slip-up, they might very well end up as a rebound team and get absolutely slaughtered.

Two teams who had a great time last weekend were Beijing Guoan and Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng. Beijing beat league leaders Guangzhou 2-0, courtesy of two goals from Jonathan Soriano, while Zhicheng could thank Nikica Jelavic and his penalty goal for a 1-0 win away at Liaoning. Now they face each other. If Guizhou win, they can take a big step up the table and if Beijing win, that Champions League spot might not be that far away after all.

Guangzhou Evergrande, as mentioned above, just lost 2-0. That’s their second loss in a row. Are we finally seeing the start of some poor form from Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men? In order to right their ship, they were probably hoping to get a team in the lower rungs of the table. They weren’t that lucky. On the other half of the pitch are Shandong Luneng and they are unbeaten in their last four. Not an easy match for Evergrande at any point, and especially not now. We might very well see Shandong extend Evergrande’s losing streak.

Hebei China Fortune could have closed the gap last week when both SIPG and Evergrande lost but were outdone by a hard fighting Henan Jianye side. Now they welcome a quite impressive Lifan to their home. They are unbeaten in the last month and would very much like to continue that trend. Hebei will need to avoid complacency and do the job otherwise this could end up like last week against Henan.

Speaking of Henan, they face Liaoning Whowin, the team with the worst form currently, having lost all their last five matches. Henan are probably on cloud nine still after beating Hebei and will need to keep the pressure up if they want to pile on to Liaoning’s misery, which might well see them slip into the relegation zone.

On Sunday the first match will see Changchun Yatai host Guangzhou R&F. R&F have slipped recently having lost their last two and only won one in five. While, as mentioned, Changchun pummelled Shanghai SIPG to a pulp winning 4-2. With a few more wins like that Changchun could be looking to go into the top six and that win might very well come against this R&F side, who sorely need a win to stay in Champions League contention.

The final match of the round sees surprise package Tianjin Quanjian face off against Shanghai Shenhua. Shenhua have had enough of Tevez for now and Gus Poyet has had to rely on Obafemi Martins (yes he still plays, and quite well too) and Giovanni Moreno to score the goals recently, which they have done excellently. But they are still stuck down in ninth and with Tianjin on the hunt for a Champions League spot, they might very well be too good for this underperforming Shanghai team. An intriguing matchup to finish a possibly spectacular round of football in China.