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SIPG’s CSL schedule released, chock full of weirdness and opportunity

Shanghai SIPG

This is your WEF home for all things SIPG. Today, Jeff Beresford-Howe looks at the road-map that’s just been laid out for the 2019 SIPG season.

The 2019 CSL schedule is finally out, and it is, as we have come to expect from such documents, puzzling.

Most notably, there are two, month-long late-season national team breaks that will result in SIPG playing a grand total of seven CSL matches in the season’s last 111 days. The breaks push the end of the CSL season into December, and before you can ask, SIPG’s trip to icy Dalian is in June.

The schedule has a gilded opportunity: SIPG’s first-half of the season in the CSL is remarkably gentle. SIPG will meet all three of their top CSL rivals – Beijing Guo’an, Shandong Luneng and Guangzhou Evergrande – at Shanghai Stadium. They will play no matches on the road against teams that won more than 10 times last year. There is a chance to put the league in a hammerlock.

There might be one issue, though: between the CSL, the Cup and the Asian Champion’s League, SIPG faces several brutal first-half fixture pile-ups, none worse than April 19 to May 21, nine matches in thirty-two days, including a mid-week trip to Sydney bookended by weekend trips to Tianjin and then SIPG’s 2019 FA Cup debut, which will make for four straight road matches.

Schedule highlights

The season will open on March 1 at Hongkou Stadium with the derby. SIPG has won the last four of their CSL match-ups against Shenhua by an aggregate of 13-2.

The CSL home-opener is against Jiangsu Suning on Saturday night, March 9. All of SIPG’s home games this year are at night again, with two exceptions: the season-ending match on Dec. 1 against Shenzhen, which like all CSL match-ups that day will kick-off at 15:00, and a 17:30, late afternoon tilt in May against Guangzhou R&F. (It’s the second straight year for that time slot against Fuli at the Stadium.)

Because of the ACL, the SIPG match-ups at the Stadium against Shandong on May 12 and Guo’an on May 26 will see both sides operating on short rest. Decks are cleared for the June 14 clash against Evergrande, though. SIPG has beaten Evergrande three straight times at the Stadium and five of the last six overall.

The champions welcome Wuhan to the CSL and the Stadium on April 14.

Despite the CSL having two teams each in Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai and three in and around Guangzhou, creating some opportunities to ease travel burdens, the CSL schedule provides no economy of motion for SIPG.

The Stadium will see six CSL matches on Sunday, five on Saturday, two on Friday and one each on Wednesday and Thursday.

There’s a cushion at the end of the year for SIPG: surrounding tough trips to Beijing and Guangzhou to play Guo’an and Evergrande, SIPG has matches against what could be four of the worst teams in the league: Henan, Dalian, Renhe and Shenzhen.

Warm ups

SIPG, training in the UAE, drew 2-2 over the weekend in a friendly against the number two Danish side Midtyjlland. Elkeson and Li Chuangyi scored for the Red Eagles. The line-up didn’t include Hulk or any of SIPG’s participants in the Asian Cup, but Wang Shenchao (still considered a fashion criminal by the CFA), Oscar and Elkeson made it onto the pitch. Chen Binbin started, and Lye Wenjun took Wu Lei’s place. Sun Le was between the posts.

SIPG will take the field in the UAE again on Friday for a friendly against Dinamo Brest, one of the better sides in the Belarus league.

Wu Lei watch

Wearing number 24 – number 7 is taken by Borja Iglesias, who leads Espanyol in scoring this year – Wu Lei got on the pitch as a sub on Sunday, appearing for about 15 minutes amidst speculation about the health of his shoulder. That speculation extended to Villareal’s Vicente Iborra, who took a whack at Wu – welcome to Europe, buddy – eight minutes into Wu’s appearance. Iborra got a yellow for his troubles.

Reports are that anywhere from four to ten million people watched all or part of Wu’s European debut on PPTV, exceeding Espanyol’s previous Chinese audiences by anywhere from four to ten million people.

Espanyol drew 2-2 against Villarreal, which in most seasons would be a delight for the Catalan side, but this season, Villareal is squarely in the relegation zone and now Espanyol is only two points away from that space themselves.

Refrigerator-ready SIPG 2019 fixtures (home matches in bold)

Please note fixtures and exact KO times may change. All information correct at time of publishing – double check club website before setting out to the game.

Sat., Feb. 23, 19:35, (CSC) Beijing Guo’an at Suzhou Olympic Center
Fri., Mar. 1, 19:35, (CSL) Shanghai Shenhua
Wed., Mar. 6, (ACL) Kawasaki Frontale
Sat., Mar. 9, 19:35, (CSL) Jiangsu Suning
Wed., Mar. 13, (ACL) Ulsan Hyundai, Perak or Kitchee
Sat., Mar. 30, 19:35, (CSL) Hebei CFFC
Fri., Apr. 5, 19:35, (CSL) Chongqing Lifan
Wed., Apr. 10, (ACL) Sydney FC
Sun., Apr. 14, 19:35, (CSL) Wuhan Zall
Fri., Apr. 19, 19:35, (CSL) Tianjin Tianhai
Wed., Apr. 23, (ACL) Sydney FC
Sun., Apr. 28, 15:30, (CSL) Tianjin Teda
Apr. 30-May 2, (FAC) fourth round
Sat., May 4, 17:30, (CSL) Guangzhou R&F
Tue., May 7, (ACL) Kawasaki Frontale
Sun., May 12, 19:35, (CSL) Shandong Luneng
Fri., May 17, 18:00, (CSL) Henan Jianye
Tue., May 21, (ACL) Ulsan Hyundai, Perak or Kitchee
Sun., May 26, 19:35, (CSL) Beijing Guo’an
Sun., June 2, 15:30, (CSL) Dalian Yifang
Fri., June 14, 20:00, (CSL) Guangzhou Evergrande
Sat., June 22, 19:35, (CSL) Beijing Renhe
Sun., June 30, 19:35, (CSL) Shenzhen
Sat., July 6, 19:35, (CSL) Shanghai Shenhua
Sat., July 13, 19:35, (CSL) Jiangsu Suning
Wed., July 17, 19:35, (CSL) Hebei CFFC
Sun., July 21, 19:35, (CSL) Chongqing Lifan
Sun., July 28, 19:35, (CSL) Wuhan Zall
Sat., Aug. 3, 20:00, (CSL) Tianjin Tianhai
Thurs., Aug. 8, 19:35, (CSL) Tianjin Teda

Mon., Aug. 12, 19:35, (CSL) Guangzhou R&F
Fri., Sept. 13, 19:35, (CSL) Shandong Luneng
Sun., Sept. 22, 19:35, (CSL) Henan Jianye
Sat., Oct. 19, 19:35, (CSL) Beijing Guo’an
Sun., Oct. 27, 19:35, (CSL) Dalian Yifang
Sat., Nov. 23, 19:35, (CSL) Guangzhou Evergrande
Wed., Nov 27, 19:35, (CSL) Beijing Renhe
Sun., Dec. 1, 15:00, (CSL) Shenzhen

American expat rooting for Shanghai SIPG, because they're the Oakland A's to Shenhua's San Francisco Giants.

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