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Chinese Super League Week 2: Previews and predictions

The new Chinese Super League season kicked off last Tuesday and the CSL’s first week back certainly had its fair of surprises. With Qingdao notching a surprise win against big spending Cangzhou Three Lions and Shanghai Shenhua beating out Beijing Guoan 2-1 in a thoroughly entertaining China Derby.

Week two will almost certainly also have a few unexpected results some fascinating encounters lined up. It’s not going be easy to predict what will happen during the next round of matches but read on to find out who we think the big winners and losers will be in week two of the CSL.

Shenzhen v Qingdao

Monday, 26th April

Guangzhou University Town Sports Center Stadium , Guangzhou

Cashed up Shenzhen got off to a great start last week with a solid 2-1 win against Henan Songshan Longmen. The pressure will now be on the Guangdong side to carry this momentum forward into week two and take all three points against Qingdao.

Qingdao also got a win in week one, but were totally outplayed for almost the entire game against Cangzhou and did little to suggest that they will be much of a force this season.   

Shenzhen will probably again line up in a 4-3-3 and will likely have too much attacking talent for Qingdao to contain. Expect to see Columbian playmaker Quintero pulling the strings from the middle of the park and creating plenty of chances for the ever reliable Kardec.

One to watch – Juan Fernando Quintero – Shenzhen’s big winter signing notched two assists against Henan and should have plenty of opportunities to impress against Qingdao.

Prediction – Shenzhen breeze past Qingdao with a 2-0 win.

Guangzhou City v Chongqing Liangjiang Athletic

Monday, 26th April

Yuexiushan Stadium, Guangzhou

Guangzhou City looked excellent in their opening match against local rivals Guangzhou and will go in as favourites against a Chongqing team that put in an underwhelming performance against Shandong in their first round match.

Defensive midfielder Gustav Svensson started on the bench for City against Guangzhou due to concerns about his fitness following a spell in quarantine. He will likely start against Chongqing and should help to beef up City’s midfield.

For similar reasons Chongqing gave only limited playing time to Fernandinho and didn’t use Miler Bolanos at all against Shandong.  Chongqing will need to try and get these two fit and ready to play against Guangzhou if they want pose a viable threat going forward.

One to watchGuilherme – A budget signing for City this winter, he was in excellent form against Guangzhou and could terrorise Chongqing’s defence on Monday.

Prediction – Guangzhou City out gun Chongqing and run out 2-1 winners.  

Shandong Taishan v Guangzhou

Tuesday, 27th April

Huadu Stadium, Guangzhou

One of the week’s biggest games sees two of the powerhouses of Chinese football meet at Huadu Stadium. Guangzhou will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing draw in their opening game, whilst Shandong will be trying to keep the ball rolling after a successful start to their campaign.

The biggest challenge for Guangzhou going into the match will be trying to find a way to get past Shandong’s steely back four without foreign stars Talisca and Paulinho. Taishan were the only team to keep a clean sheet last week and look like they could have the league’s best centre-back pairing with Zheng Zheng and Shi Ke.

Guangzhou definitely have their work cut out as they look to secure their first win of the season, and may find themselves lacking the cutting edge needed to take all three points against Shandong.

One to watch – Shi Ke – A big off-season signing for Taishan, Shi will need to be on top of his game against Guangzhou.

Prediction – A hard fought 1-1 draw, with neither side doing quite enough to seize victory.

Cangzhou Mighty Lions v Henan Songshan Longmen

Tuesday, 27th April

Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou

Cangzhou were desperately unlucky to lose their opening game against Qingdao after dominating the match from start to finish. They will be looking to get off the mark on Tuesday against a Henan side that was also unlucky to lose their opening game after putting in battling display against big spending Shenzhen.

Henan’s biggest concern will be that they didn’t look as solid defensively against Shenzhen as they may have hoped. If the Mighty Lions are more ruthless in front of goal than they were against Qingdao, Henan could be in real trouble.

One to watch – Adama Diomande – The Mighty Lion’s big winter signing got off the mark last week and should have plenty of chances to add to his tally in week two.

Prediction – Cangzhou get their first points of the season with a 2-1 win.

Shanghai Port v Beijing Guoan

Wednesday, 28th April

Jiangyin Sports Centre Stadium, Suzhou

Shanghai Port predictably blew away Tianjin Tiger in their opening match but will face a much sterner test in week two against Beijing Guoan. Guoan endured a shock 2-1 defeat to Shanghai Shenhua in their opening match and new manager Slaven Bilic will already be beginning to feel the heat.

Bilic’s side will not helped by the fact that Port’s forwards had a field day against Tianjin and should be brimming with confidence ahead of Wednesday night’s clash.

Port will hopeful that Aaron Mooy will be able to dominate in midfield early on and give his team’s attacking players the necessary freedom to get at Guoan from the outset.

One to watch  – Zhang Yuning – The big striker looked out of sorts in Guoan’s opening match and will be desperate to make an impact in week two.

Prediction – A 2-1 win for Shanghai Port piles the pressure on Bilic.

Dalian Pro v Hebei

Wednesday, 28th April

Kunshan Sports Centre Stadium, Suzhou

Dalian Pro lost 2-1 to Changchun Yatai in their opening game and will be looking for a result against Hebei to put their season back on track.

How Hebei get on in week two will depend largely on the fitness of the team’s foreign players. Concerns about fitness levels following spells in quarantine meant that centre-back Marcus Danielson was the only foreign player included in last week’s match day squad. Dalian looked lost without any of their foreign strikers and really struggled going forward as a result.

Hebei had a similar issue last week with a number of key foreign players struggling for match fitness and either starting on the bench or missing from the squad entirely.

It’s difficult to tell exactly how this game will go and so much will depend on which players are available for which team. Based on what we saw in last weeks games however, Hebei seem the more likely to come out on top and should have enough quality in all areas of the pitch to take all three points.

One to watch – Cui Lin the young full-back hasn’t been a regular prior this season but looked excellent last week and could prove to be a real threat on the counter-attack against Dalian Pro.

Prediction – Hebei claim their first win of the season with a hard fought 1-0 win.

Wuhan v Shanghai Shenhua

Thursday, 29th April

Jiangyin Sports Centre Stadium, Suzhou

This is going to be another match where the availability of foreign players in going to be a key factor in determining how the game plays out.

Wuhan had significant concerns about the match fitness of the majority of their foreign players and started their opening match with three of them on the bench. When they did come on at around the hour mark, Wuhan looked a completely different team and dominated the final half hour.

If Li Xiaopeng feels comfortable putting all of his available foreign players in the starting eleven then we could be in for a real contest. And we may see both Wuhan and Shenhua going all out to try and secure a win. If however Li decides to start a number of key foreign players on the bench then it’s more likely that we’ll see a more conservative Wuhan battling for a point against a Shenhua team that looked very impressive in their opening in match against Beijing Guoan.

One to watch – Jean Evrard Kouassi – Wuhan’s best player for a number years now, he scored shortly after coming on as a sub against Hebei and should play a much bigger role in week two.

Prediction – An entertaining 2-2 draw.

Changchun Yatai v Tianjin Tiger

Thursday, 29th April

Suzhou Sports Centre Stadium, Suzhou

Tianjin Tiger are woefully under equipped for Chinese Super League and it seems like they are going to spend the regular season experimenting with their squad in preparation for the relegation play-offs.

Last week they predictably succumbed to a heavy defeat at the hands of Shanghai Port. And this week we can expect more of the same as they face a Changchun Yatai team loaded with quality attacking players. 

One to watch – Junior Negrao – One of the contenders for this year’s golden boot, he’ll looking to fill his boots against Tiger.

Prediction – 5-0 another heavy defeat for Tianjin Tiger as Changchun pick up their second win of the season.

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