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CSL final day explained: Who can be champs and who can go down

Only 90 minutes of football remain before the 2014 Chinese Super League season comes to a close. While this season looked to be without drama for awhile, we have a white hot weekend of football to look forward to, with six teams all having something to play for. Rounding out the weekend, Saturday will see three China League One sides battle for the final ticket to the 2015 CSL.

CSL Round 30 – Sunday, November 2

Shandong Luneng – Guangzhou Evergrande
Beijing Guoan – Henan Jianye
Guizhou Renhe – Harbin Yiteng
Hangzhou Greentown – Changchun Yatai
Jiangsu Sainty – Guangzhou R&F
Liaoning Whowin – Shanghai Shenhua
Shanghai Shenxin – Dalian Aerbin
Tianjin Teda – Shanghai East Asia

Setting the scene:

Beijing’s dramatic win over Evergrande last weekend means that the title race will be pushed to the season’s last day for only the sixth time in league history. There was also plenty of excitement in the relegation fight as Liaoning and Shenxin were both victorious, moving them to safety. Liaoning’s good fortune came at Aerbin’s expense, the 2-1 loss for Dalian pushed them into the relegation spot for the first time this season. Henan jumped over the dongbei side thanks to a 3-0 win over Hangzhou.

Final round permutations:

The most important thing to bear in mind is that the CSL tie-breaker system is a little complicated. It works like this:

1. Head-to-head points. 2. Head-to-head goal difference. 3. Head-to-head goals scored. 4. Reserve league record.* 5. Goal difference. 6. Goals scored. 7. Disciplinary record

This means that on Sunday:

Guangzhou Evergrande will win the league if:
They win or draw against Shandong or if they lose and Guoan fails to win against Henan.

Beijing Guoan will win the league if:
They beat Henan and Evergrande loses to Shandong.

Anything can happen in the relegation fight

12 – Changchun Yatai W8 D7 L14 GD-7 PTS31
13 – Hangzhou Greentown W8 D7 L14 GD-17 PTS31
14 – Henan Jianye W6 D11 L12 GD-7 PTS29
15 – Dalian Aerbin W6 D10 L13 GD-13 PTS28

Dalian travels to Shenxin needing a win to avoid, as they currently sit a point behind Henan and with the head-to-head matches equal, their goal difference is considerably worse (though Dalian does control the tie breaker if it is reserve league record). Jianye faces off against Beijing, who have an outside shot at the title and are sure to be up for the match, meaning Henan likely needs some help from Shenxin.

Changchun and Hangzhou face off against each other and it’s not hard to predict a draw, moving both sides into safety. However, if there is a winner in that match and somehow Dalian and Henan both win, Dalian holds the tie breaker over both (Changchun due to head-to-head and Hangzhou due to goal difference).

Bonus China League One promotion fight

Beijing Baxy – Shenzhen Ruby
Shijiazhuang Yongchang – Qingdao Hainiu
Wuhan Zall – Chongqng Lifan

2 – Shijiazhuang W16 D6 L7 PTS54
3 – Wuhan W17 D3 L9 PTS54
4 – Beijing W13 D13 L3 PTS52

As if Sunday’s action isn’t enough, Saturday will see the China League One season come to a close. Chongqing already punched their promotion ticket by running away with China League One this season, only losing two matches, however who will be joining them is still up in the air. There are lots of different permutations here, Shijiazhuang controls the head-to-head advantage over Wuhan. Baxy is two points behind but if neither side above them wins, Baxy has the head-to-head advantage over both Shijiazhuang and Wuhan.

*Cannot completely confirm that this is the fourth tiebreaker, but multiple sources have it listed as such.

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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