CSL Matchday 29 Preview: Champions League or bust

So, the title race and relegation battle are over. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to play for!

The hunt for the AFC Champions League spots is still on and there are four teams vying for the one guaranteed spot in third place, as well as the maybe-spot in fourth, depending if Shanghai SIPG beat their city-rivals Shenhua in the cup final or not.

There are four teams still left in the run for the Champions League spots. Hebei China Fortune currently have an advantage sitting in third, one point ahead of Tianjin Quanjian in fourth and three in front of the other two contenders, Shandong Luneng and Guangzhou R&F in fifth and sixth respectively.

Seeing as this is the penultimate round, all matches will kick off at the same time. That kick-off will be at 7:00 in the morning UK time on Sunday.

Let’s dive right into that CL fight then.

Hebei China Fortune have the most difficult game of the four contenders. They host title winners Guangzhou Evergrande. With Evergrande already winners of the league there might be some danger of complacency so Hebei could very well win this, but if Luiz Felipe Scolari can manage to avoid that, Evergrande should win.

On the other hand, Tianjin Quanjian might have the easiest game as they play already relegated Liaoning. They have nothing left to play for but pride, and to try and not end last in the league, so they should win this match.

Guangzhou R&F play Tianjin TEDA who are sitting in 13th place but could leapfrog a few teams and go to 11th with a bit of luck. Shandong Luneng will travel to Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng who could get a very good top ten place in their first season in the CSL. They are currently sitting in eight and could go up to seventh if they win.

Second-placed Shanghai SIPG meet Henan Jianye for their matchup. Beijing Guoan, who beat Chongqing Lifan in their game in hand in midweek, head to Nanjing to play Jiangsu Suning, who have saved themselves despite their awful start to the season.

The other two games this week sees Shanghai Shenhua take on relegated Yanbian Funde while the battle for ninth sees 10th placed Chongqing Lifan go to ninth-placed Changchun Yatai. The winner could potentially leapfrog Guizhou as a nice bonus if they lose their game against Shandong.

Let the CL fight commence!

About the Author

Ola Bjerkevoll
Norwegian studying sports journalism in England. Lover of all football, especially Chinese, German and Oceanian. Twitter: @olabje