Battle to avoid the relegation zone as the fight at both ends of the table tightens

Chinese Super League

Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng open the 13th round by welcoming league leaders Guangzhou Evergrande to the Guiyang Olympic Sports Centre tomorrow. Guizhou’s task is made even harder by the fact that they had two players sent off in the last game before the international break. In the match against Changchun Jatai Han Pengfei got sent off for taking a move out of the movie “Karate Kid”, and although not hitting anyone with it, the fly-kick was close enough that the referee deemed it dangerous play and sent him off. The other player sent off was goalkeeper Boyang Su who got sent off AFTER the match ended when he received a second yellow card. Evergrande should make easy work of the eight-placed side.

Hebei China Fortune, sitting in a nice third-place, hosts Tianjin Quanjian, both teams have won their last three matches. The newly promoted Tianjin side sit in an uplifting sixth place and this match could be a real make or break match for Tianjin if they want to mount a fight for the last Champions League spot, a spot that Hebei currently holds.

At the bottom of the table, Yanbian Funde must be wondering what they need to do to get a win. The same thoughts are also most likely crossing the minds of Henan Jianye staff and players, who sit third from the bottom. Both teams have only one win so far this season. The solution could be a head-to-head to end this run, and luckily that’s just what we have this weekend. I have the feeling this could end in a draw. Don’t know why.

Shanghai Shenhua are slipping dangerously close to the relegation zone right now and if the teams below them could string together any kind of form, at all, they might be going down. There are only six points down to bottom of the league Yanbian. Shenhua have not won in the league since April and Carlos Tevez has looked disinterested and bored for the last matches. Then it might be a nice little chance for a victory here as they play Chongqing Lifan who sit one spot and one point ahead in the table. Lifan have only won one of the last five matches, unlucky for Shenhua that win was the last match played. A close affair should be expected, but if Tevez actually decides to turn up for once, Shenhua might just pull out of this with a win.

The big match of this round 13 is Guangzhou R&F’s tie with Shanghai SIPG. Fifth versus second. R&F started so brightly and looked like they could challenge for the title this year but a huge dip in for, including four draws in a row from the last five games, has seen them drop away and now sit nine points behind SIPG and 11 points behind league leaders and cross-town rivals Evergrande. SIPG need to win this match, as always, to keep up with the Guangzhou machine and with R&F’s poor form of late that should be doable.

In a battle that could be a more close-fought battle than a glance at the table might suggest, Shandong Luneng travel to Shenyang Olympic Sports Center Stadium to play Liaoning Whowin. Speedster Anthony Ujah is an ever-present danger to any defence in the CSL and the Nigerian, who has four goals in nine appearances, will be looking to terrorise the Luneng defence all game long. Shandong are not in the best of form either and a Liaoning win is not entirely out of the question, but for Shandong’s part, they need a win to keep up with the other Champions League hunters.

Beijing Guoan, like Guizhou, managed to get two people sent off in the last round and will have to make do without backup defender Li Hanbo and star playmaker Zhang Xizhe, both got sent off after receiving two yellow cards. They welcome Tianjin TEDA to the Workers’ Stadium. Guoan might be refreshed by the arrival of a new coach after the sacking of José González. The new man is ex-Bayer Leverkusen manager Roger Schmidt, and although he doesn’t take over the capital club until the start of next month, just knowing that they have to perform to impress their new boss could work wonders for the Beijing players.

The final game of the round is Jiangsu Suning and Changchun Yatai who battle to avoid the relegation zone. Jiangsu are currently in the pit of despair but could leapfrog Changchun, who sit only one point ahead, with a win. Changchun could themselves fall in if either Henan or Yanbian win their match and they lose. This is a match both sides need to win.