CSL Preview: The halfway stage of the season brings interesting match ups

The Chinese Super League reaches its halfway point with this weekend’s action and it all kick-off later today. First out are Shanghai Shenhua who welcome Liaoning Whowin to the Hongkou Stadium.

While Shanghai Shenhua took an important step away from the relegation battle with a win over Yanbian Funde last time out, Liaoning are still down around the black pit of despair that is the relegation zone after a 2-1 loss to Tianjin Quanjian last time out. However, there are only three points between the two teams so this is anyone’s game.

Tomorrow Beijing Guoan travel to Changchun Yatai for the early kick-off. This will most likely be new coach Roger Schmidt’s first game in charge as he is set to take over on July 1st, and has had the chance to see the capital side in action a few times. Both teams drew last time out, and neither team is in any kind of good form. The two teams have only won one of their last five and while Changchun are in danger of being properly dragged into the relegation zone, Beijing are in real danger of having their season end already at the halfway point, but they will hope that Schmidt’s entrance will reinvigorate the side.

In the main part of this round, Guangzhou R&F play Chongqing Lifan, Henan Jianye face Tianjin TEDA, Jiangsu Suning host Shanghai SIPG while Hebei China Fortune play Shandong Luneng.

The interesting games in this part of the weekend are second-from-bottom Jiangsu playing second-from-top Shanghai SIPG and the fight for third place between Hebei and Shandong.

In the battle for second-place, Jiangsu have to win to keep up with the teams above while SIPG have to win to keep up with Guangzhou Evergrande. With SIPG being undefeated since April and Jiangsu only having one win all season, there is no real debate over who is going to win this one.

Hebei and Shandong are four points apart with the former occupying third place. Hebei lost to Evergrande last time out while Shandong drew with Guizhou. A close match on paper but Hebei are in good form, despite the “slip-up” against Evergrande, and could nudge ahead and bring the gap up to seven points.

The weekend’s action ends on Sunday with two games. Bottom of the league Yanbian Funde are going to Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng’s home turf and sorely need a win to not end up a minimum of four points adrift from the team above them. Guizhou are languishing in the middle rungs of the table and sit tenth; a win could see them climb to eighth while a loss could see them fall to 13th should all results go against them.

The final game of the round is an interesting one. Newly promoted Tianjin Quanjian are doing very well after investing heavily before the season and are sitting in sixth so far. A good run of form could come to an end when runaway train and league leaders Guangzhou Evergrande come to town. The hosts have still only lost one league match and the new boys should struggle heavily here.