Guangzhou Evergrande poised for 6th consecutive CSL title – but what else will be decided this weekend?
With the Chinese Super League playing its third last round of the 2016 season this weekend, WEF takes a look at what still has to be decided this season.
CSL Title Race
Guangzhou Evergrande will win their sixth consecutive CSL title against Yanbian Funde at home on Sunday if they win, or if Jiangsu Suning lose against Chongqing Lifan the previous day. Should Evergrande fail to win, they will still win the league if they can match Suning’s result. Jiangsu bettering Evergrande’s result will set up a mouth-watering clash between these two sides next Wednesday night in Nanjing, with head-to-head results the first tie-breaking criterion in the CSL.
Prediction: Only some freakish results can prevent Evergrande taking the title – Jiangsu will be runners-up for the second time in their history.
Thanks to the CFA cup final featuring Guangzhou Evergrande and Jiangsu Sainty, both of whom guaranteed to finish in the top 3, this means a place normally afforded to the cup winners now goes to 4th place in the CSL.
The CSL champions and the CFA cup winners qualify direct to the Asian Champions League group stages. Third place qualify for the play-off round, and 4th place qualify for the preliminary play-off.
Shanghai Shenhua will clinch ACL qualification if they beat Hangzhou Greentown on Sunday, or if Guangzhou R&F fail to beat Shijiazhuang away from home on Saturday thanks to Shenhua’s superior head-to-head record. Their remaining matches are against Guoan at home and Changchun away – both tricky fixtures with wins far from guaranteed.
City rivals Shanghai SIPG will clinch ACL qualification if they beat Shandong at home on Saturday and R&F lose. Sven’s side play Tianjin at home and Hebei away in the final two games
Mathematically, Hebei, Beijing Guoan, Chongqing and Henan could make the ACL but most likely all four will be eliminated from the race this weekend.
Prediction: Shanghai SIPG to leapfrog Shenhua and finish 3rd, Shenhua to qualify via 4th.
Shijiazhuang look down and out and indeed will be relegated if they fail to beat Guangzhou R&F on Saturday and Hangzhou beat Shenhua the following day. Regardless, the team from Hebei province looked doomed one way or another. Changchun Yatai however are still in with a shout but surely must beat dongbei rivals Liaoning away from home on Sunday to have much hope. Their remaining games are against Henan away from Shenhua at home, so they face a tough task to avoid being only the second former CSL winners to be relegated after Shenzhen several seasons back.
Yanbian and Liaoning are mathematically not in the clear but only need a couple of points from their last three games to make absolutely sure.
Prediction: Shijiazhuang are just too far behind at this point and it’s hard to see Changchun climbing over Hangzhou who take on Shenhua on Sunday and have never lost at home. However teams are going to be taking points off each other so things could yet change.
Author: Cameron Wilson
UK trained journalist and long-time Chinese football observer Cameron Wilson has been writing about Chinese football for over a decade…