The Chinese Super League is back for the final round of matches before the international break. Guangzhou’s game against Henan and Beijing Guoan’s clash with Hebei have both been postponed, with the CFA looking to rest key players ahead of China’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers. There are still plenty of fascinating match-ups this week though, so read on for our comprehensive preview of week five.
Shenzhen v Shandong Taishan
Friday, 14th May
Guangzhou University Town Sports Center Stadium, Guangzhou
Shenzhen notched their second win of the campaign last Saturday with a pulsating 4-2 win over Guangzhou City. They face some very different opposition this Friday however as they come up against a Taishan team that has only conceded once so far this season.
Shandong have a very settled back four that Shenzhen will have trouble finding a way past. As well as an extremely combative midfield that should allow Taishan to dominate large spells of the game. The likes of Kardec and Quintero should still pose plenty of problems for Shandong but in all likelihood Shandong will be simply too good for Shenzhen.
One to watch – Zheng Zheng – The 31 year old has been rock solid at the back for Shandong so far this season.
Prediction – Shandong stay top of the league with a 2-0 win.
Guangzhou City v Cangzhou Mighty Lions
Friday, 14th May
Yuexiushan Stadium, Guangzhou
Guangzhou City will be looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season as they come up against the Cangzhou Mighty Lions this Friday. Cangzhou currently sit fourteenth in the table but have played some decent football this year and have been very unlucky not to have picked up more points.
This is probably going to be a very closely contested game. City do have a lot more quality going forward but the Mighty Lions should be more solid defensively. Home advantage could be the deciding factor here with Guangzhou City being one of only two teams able to play at their normal home ground in this first half of the season.
One to watch – Guilherme – Has been by far and away City’s best player since joining the club earlier this year.
Prediction – City get back to winning ways with a 2-1 win.
Qingdao v Chongqing Liangjiang Athletic
Saturday, 15th May
Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou
Chongqing’s season really got going last weekend with a dramatic 3-2 comeback victory against Henan. They’ll be looking to build on that success this Saturday against a struggling Qingdao side.
One of the big talking points for Chongqing last week was Miler Bolanos. Projected to a be key player for Athletic this season, the Ecuadorian forward was finally able to get through a full 90 minutes last week and was instrumental in his team’s second-half comeback. Chongqing will be hoping that with him now back in the side and in decent form they will have the necessary firepower to comfortably see off teams like Qingdao.
One to watch – Huang Xiyang – Huang’s career looked dead in the water when he was at Wuhan a few years ago. But he’s had a real renaissance since returning to his hometown club and has been one of the CSL’s best domestic players so far this season.
Prediction – Chongqing make it two in a row with a 2-0 win.
Shanghai Port v Dalian Pro
Sunday, 16th May
Suzhou Sports Center Stadium, Suzhou
Dalian Pro squeezed out their first win of the season last weekend against Tianjin Tiger. But didn’t look particularly good value for win, leaving it until the eightieth minute to break the deadlock against one of the CSL’s weakest ever teams. This sort lacklustre performance doesn’t bode well for Pro and it’s difficult to see them challenging for a result against Shanghai Port this Sunday.
Port have drawn their last two matches but have put in decent performances in both games. Striker Marko Arnautović may miss Sunday’s clash after going off injured against Changchun on Tuesday. But even without him, Port should have more than enough quality going forward to be able to secure a comfortable victory.
One to watch – Oscar – The Brazilian could tear apart this substandard Dalian team.
Prediction – An emphatic 3-0 win for Shanghai Port.
Tianjin Tiger v Wuhan
Monday, 17th May
Jiangyin Sports Center Stadium, Suzhou
Tianjin Tiger predictably sit bottom of the table after four games but haven’t been quite been the whipping boys that some expected them to be. With Tiger managing to hold out for a 0-0 draw against Changchun Yatai in week two and almost repeating the feat again against Dalian Pro last week.
Wuhan’s season has got off to a difficult start and they currently sit just one place above Tiger in the table. They’ll be desperate not to miss out on this golden opportunity to get their first win of the season.
Li Xiaopeng has consistently chopped and changed his team throughout this year’s opening matches. So it’s going to be difficult to predict how Wuhan will line-up against Tiger, overall though Wuhan should be good enough to take all three points.
One to watch – Kouassi – Could play either up front or on the wing, either way his pace and dribbling ability will cause huge problems for Tiger.
Prediction – 2-0 to Wuhan as they claim their first win of the season.
Changchun Yatai v Shanghai Shenhua
Monday, 17th May
Kunshan Sports Center Stadium, Suzhou
For a team that went to such lengths to upgrade their attacking options this off-season, Changchun have certainly managed a lot of 0-0 draws so far this year. And while Yatai’s forwards could definitely have been more ruthless in front goal, they also deserve a lot of the credit for the team’s solid defensive record. With them being used as part of a high press, which Yatai have employed effectively this year to stifle the ability of opposition teams to play the ball out from the back.
Monday’s game against Shanghai Port was a classic example of this and really helped Changchun to grind out a draw against one of the CSL’s top teams. They will be no doubt be hoping it will be as equally effective this Monday as they come up against Shanghai’s other team.
One to watch – Li Shuai – An injury to Zeng Cheng, looks like it will press his unreliable understudy into action for Monday’s game.
Prediction – A 1-1 draw with neither side doing quite enough to claim all three points.