CSL Preview: Zahavi v Lavezzi

Chinese Super League

The first match of this round nine sees Guangzhou R&F host Hebei China Fortune in a battle between fourth and fifth today. Eran Zahavi versus Ezequiel Lavezzi, two teams with a lot of goals both for and against them. An exciting match should be on the cards. Kick-off is 12:35 UK time.

On Friday it kicks off with two matches at 9:30. Chongqing Lifan travels to Liaoning Whowin in a match that both mid-table sides wants something out of.

The other early Friday match is capital side Beijing Guoan who go to relegation-placed Yanbian Funde. Beijing lost 4-1 to Hebei last weekend and Yanbian drew 1-1 with Changchun, so neither team is in great form.

Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng take on eight placed Tianjian Quanjian in the battle of the newly promoted. Last season in League One these two teams won one game each against the other, both matches ended 2-1. Both teams won their home match which means that if statistics have anything to say on the matter, Guizhou will win this one and take a step away from the relegation zone.

The final game on Saturday sees Henan Jianye face Shanghai Shenhua. In the absence of injured Carlos Tevez, who caused outrage when he was spotted at Disneyland while he was injured last month, both Fredy Guarin and cult-hero Obafemi Martins have done their best to keep Shenhua in touch with the others at the top. They’ve done a decent job but Shanghai are still nine points of the top and six of the Champions League spots. Henan are lurking around at the foot of the table, only above the drop zone on goal difference and a morale boosting win against a Shenhua that are not unbeatable could be just what they need.

Come Sunday and the early kick off will see Changchun Yatai play top-of-the-table-business-as-usual Guangzhou Evergrande. Changchun beat Tianjin Quanjian 2-1 last time out while Evergrande are undefeated in every competition since they lost to Shandong Luneng in March, 11 games ago.

The final two games see hopelessly poor Jiangsu Suning play third placed Shandong Luneng while middle-of-the-pack Tianjin TEDA play second-placed Shanghai SIPG.

Jiangsu are the only team in the league yet to win a football match. They have four draws and four losses from their first eight outings. Ramires and his teammates need to do something soon, the only thing that really keeps them in contention for safety is that there are other teams that are almost as bad. Shandong are unbeaten in three and got a huge confidence boost by beating Guangzhou R&F 3-0 last week and will be all kinds of trouble for Jiangsu.

Tianjin TEDA are so bang average it’s ridiculous. John Obi Mikel has only played three matches for TEDA who have two wins, three draws and three losses from their first eight. Their goal difference is average and their last five matches have been a draw, loss, win, loss, draw, which makes for a symmetry that would be appreciated by a person with OCD. Shanghai SIPG are unbeaten in the last five and in the Brazilian trio Oscar, Elkeson and Hulk they have plenty of attacking proves that can make life hard for TEDA. Can Tianjin’s averageness blank out Shanghai’s artistry?