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Shandong on Championship brink

The Chinese Super League resumed last weekend after yet another break, this time for the Chinese national day holiday week, and another round of international fixtures. China put in a decent performance against Syria on October 8 to win 2-1. Your correspondent took in most of the game on China’s state sports channel, CCTV 5. However, the match wasn’t much of a spectacle – torrential rain in Kunming before kick-off rendered the pitch unplayable. But the decision was made to play on regardless, with the teams made to look like fools by the ball abruptly stopping in puddles at regular intervals.

The national team followed up their friendly victory against Syria a few days later by going down 0-4 to World Cup quarter finalists Uruguay. Somehow the team contrived to lose all four goals in the last 20 minutes which could only have been a frustrating experience for all Chinese fans.

Back to the Chinese Super League though, and last weekend Shandong were held 1-1 away to Henan, a result which suits them as they now have the chance to clinch the Chinese Super League championship at home to second-bottom Qingdao on Saturday. Going by Shandong’s form, anything other than the men from Jianan nailing their 4th league title will be a shock outcome.

Shenhua lost 3-1 away last weekend in freezing Changchun in the northeast of China. Mathematically they can still overtake Shandong should the Jinan team lose all four of their remaining games. That’s not going to happen though. Infact, Shenhua are in danger of surrendering 2nd place – Tianjin are just four points behind in third, Beijing four points back in fourth.

The other highlight in last week’s games was the Jing-Jin derby, between Beijing and Tianjin – a tasty fixture for both teams whos cities are just 100km or so apart – just along the road in Chinese terms. It’s one of China’s most ferocious local derbies and travelling fans were banned at last weekend’s match – A Modern Lei Feng gives the lowdown on this match, and check out the video clip at the top of this post, complete with bizarre background music and an amusing penalty miss from Beijing.

Of the rest of the games which matter this weekend, Tianjin could take a step closer to a Asian Champions League (ACL) place if they beat relegation-threatened Shenzhen at home, Shaanxi fight for their place in the ACL at Shenhua, Beijing are away to basement club Chongqing, and fellow ACL hopefuls Dalian and Hangzhou are at home to Jiangsu and Changchun respectively.

predicts that come Sunday evening, Chongqing and Qingdao will be staring relegation in the face, Beijing and Tianjin moving closer to ACL qualification, and Shandong will be crowned champs.

A leading international commentator on Chinese football frequently quoted by the world's top media. Offers piercing and resolutely honest insights into the bustling crossroads where football, society, economics and politics meet in contemporary China. Based in Shanghai since 2005, observer of the Chinese game since 2000.

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