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Chinese Super League

Round 28 – Analyzing the races

There are only three matches left in the 2013 Chinese Super League season and at this point we already know Guangzhou Evergrande are the league champions for the third straight time while Shandong Luneng has secured second place (and an Asian Champions League berth in 2014). The third Asian Champions League position (whether it be an automatic berth or for a playoff spot) is very much undecided, but our focus will be on the relegation battle, as well as the intriguing three way battle for promotion in the China League.

 

12 Jiangsu Sainty – 30 points
13 Hangzhou Greentown – 30 points
14 Qingdao Jonoon – 28 points
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15 Changchun Yatai – 26 points
16 Wuhan Zall – 16 points

On only 16 points in their return to the CSL, Wuhan has long since been relegated, so the fight’s between four sides to avoid the drop. Only five points from the drop, Shanghai Shenxin appear in danger, especially considering their recent internal turmoil, but with matches against weaker sides (Tianjin and Wuhan), they should be safe. As for the other sides, here are the remaining matches:

Jiangsu – vs. Shandong, @ Qingdao, vs. East Asia
Last 5 matches – DLLWD
Hangzhou – @ Beijing, vs. Guizhou, @ Dalian
Last 5 matches – WLDLD
Qingdao – @ Evergrande, vs. Jiangsu, @ Beijing
Last 5 matches – LLLLW
Changchun – vs. Tianjin, @ Shenhua, vs. Liaoning
Last 5 matches – WLWWL

Despite currently being in a relegation position, Changchun fans have plenty to be optimistic about when looking at their remaining matches as all three give them a solid opportunity to come away with points. Also, unlike the other two sides in serious danger, two of their three remaining matches are at home. Plus, their recent form is considerably better than any of the other sides sitting in the danger zone. Since their win against Qingdao in Round 23, Hangzhou has struggled considerably as of late and have a tough schedule in their remaining trio of matches. Despite the strength of their opposition, if there’s a ray of light it’s that over the last three years, Greentown has been able to take three points from Guoan at Gongti (of course in the negatives column, the last time Beijing won against Hangzhou at home, 2009, a defeat that would have condemned Greentown to relegation). Qingdao’s form has been downright horrible, but their win against Tianjin in midweek was a bit of a shock, was it a legitimate win marking a revitalized spirit or was it something more underhanded? Finally, as a Guoan fan, it is immediately apparent that the Men in Green will play a major role in the relegation picture as they fight for an ACL spot.

1 Henan Construction – 58 points
2 Harbin Yiteng – 54 points
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3 Guangdong Sunray Cave – 53 points

We don’t often talk about the China League around here, but there isn’t much to talk about in the CSL, so its worth a look. The top sides keep winning and Henan looks likely to go up, but who will be joining them is the question. I fretted over whether to include Chongqing Lifan, they still have a tiny bit of hope (at least for another week), but on 47 points they don’t have a realistic shot. Here’s the remaining matches and recent form (as there isn’t much knowledge about the other sides, in paranthesis are the remaining opponents current ranking):

Henan – @ Chengdu (13), vs. Tianjin (9), @ Shenzhen (5)
Last 5 matches – WDWLW
Harbin – vs. Shenyang (6), @ Yanbian (11), vs. BIT (8)
Last 5 matches – WLWWL
Guangdong – vs. Yanbian (11), @ BIT (8), vs. Chongqing FC (16)
Last 5 matches – LWDDW

It was Henan’s win in the previous round over Chongqing Lifan that more or less ended that sides hopes of returning to the top flight. Guangdong has somewhat sputtered as of late, though a huge win over Shenyang (5-0) in the last round helped them get back in the race, especially as Harbin was defeated. When looking at strength of remaining opponents, Guangdong’s are slightly weaker, but its all pretty average between the sides. It looks like it will go down to the end.

Speaking of going down to the end, at the bottom of the China League table, six teams are battling to stay up:
11 Yanbian – 27 points
12 Hunan – 27 points
13 Chengdu – 25 points
14 Guizhou – 24 points
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15 Hubei – 24 points
16 Chongqing FC – 23 points

Not much I’d venture to say about things at the bottom of the table, but it is sure to be exciting. The biggest concern is that with all those teams in danger of going down, we’ll see some of the “tacit agreements” that would be a reminder of the bad old days.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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