Shanghai East Asia (1st) – Beijing Baxy (16th)
Shanghai East Asia, having been beaten for the third time in five games, now have the lifeline of a game against the division’s bottom side and if the former can’t get the job done in front of their home fans this week, the red half of Shanghai may as well put their promotion aspirations in a box and forgo the rest of the season.
Bluntly speaking, Baxy are terrible and should be easy pickings for East Asia so long as the hosts go about things with a level head. Zhen Zhengrong has emerged as a vital source of goals and may well be crucial in this fixture. Luis Carlos Cabezas has also chipped in with some key strikes and those two will hold the key against a team that lack any strength in defence (only one team in the Chinese second tier- Yanbian Tigers- have conceded more goals this season).
Basically, this is an easy call. East Asia are (on paper) the top team in the division. Baxy are the worst. The home side should (and must) win this game comfortably.
Tianjin Songjiang (4th)- Hunan Xiangtao (2nd)
Having reduced East Asia’s lead at the top of China League One, Hunan will be aiming to trim that advantage to just a point. Standing in their way will be Tianjin Songjiang, who have been in maddening form so far this season and predicting them is practically impossible regardless of the opposition or where the game is being played.
On paper though, this game has all the makings of a draw. Hunan will not want to surrender their momentum and would probably take a point rather than the defeat that might come with taking on Tianjin at home infront of the latter’s fans. In turn, Songjiang will be hoping Rong Yu can sprinkle some magic from midfield on proceedings but having contained East Asia’s Wu Lei the previous week, the away team should be confident of nullifying their opponents’ key player.
Both teams can’t afford to lose this game and so there is a strong chance that each will play with a cagey mentality that doesn’t open either up to any real risk. Put this writer down for a 0-0 draw in Tianjin.
Hohhot Dongjin (15th) – Shenyang Shenbei (13th)
The dog fight at the bottom of the league continues to get spicy as the players gazing at the drop realise that jobs are now on the line if their employers slip into China League Two.
No doubt aware of this, Hohhot and Shenyang have had fantastic runs of form recently. The home side haven’t lost in four games whilst their guests are unbeaten in six and the clash between the two outfits is a legitimate ‘six-pointer’.
Shenbei will be relying on the wily instincts of Jose Duerte although the Brazilian forward might not be able to help his team edge this game, and the form book is also against the away side, who have lost four of their last five away games (the other was a draw).
Dongjin on the other hand are on a roll- Saturday’s game will be their fifth successive match at the Hohhot stadium and their recent run there has been good. Tough sides like Chongqing Lifan and Shenzhen Ruby have had trouble at this ground in recent games and it may well be the case that Shenbei have the same problems.With this in mind, Hohhot will start as the favorites in this clash but only just.