Daily Drip

Chinese Club Football Might Get its First New Champions Since 2011 This Week

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Guangzhou Evergrande (or Evergrande Taobao as they’ve been known since 2015) have become yawningly dominant in Chinese football in the past decade, winning every Chinese Super League title since 2011. But — and we really don’t want to jinx it here — that now seems set to change thanks to Shanghai SIPG and a phenomenal game of football this past weekend.

It can be easy to mock the state of Chinese football. Very, very easy.

via GIPHY

But while the game here still has problems — and the authorities seem intent on executing the kind of decisions that make FIFA look like a sensible, well-run organization — the standard of the league has improved in the past decade, and last Saturday’s game between the top two sides was a fantastic advertisement for the CSL.

Shanghai SIPG travelled to the home of seven times consecutive champions Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao knowing that an away win would put them in touching distance of their first ever CSL championship. Evergrande knew that if they could take the three points the title race would go down to the wire.

It could have been a cagey affair, but it was anything but. Rather than describe all the dramatic twists and turns of the game, we strongly recommend you watch the highlights here:

Incredible stuff. As Wild East Football founder Cameron Wilson put it:

SIPG now require just two points from their remaining two games (one this Wednesday; one at the weekend) to break Evergrande’s previously vice-like grip on the CSL trophy.

That would be remarkable enough in itself, but is even more so given the Shanghai-based club was only founded in 2005 and only joined Chinese football’s top tier in 2013. Created on the island of Chongming outside the city proper, Shanghai East Asia (as they were originally known) have gone through a number of the various name changes and mergers that tend to characterize Chinese club football and been associated with some recognizable international names along the way including managers Sven-Göran Eriksson and André Villas-Boas and players such as Brazilian duo Oscar and Hulk, who have both helped guide SIPG toward the title.

Shanghai SIPG now have the chance to seal the title on home turf when they take on Beijing Renhe — a mid-table side with nothing to play for — on Wednesday night. Most Chinese football fans will be hoping they don’t fluff their lines, and finally end Evergrande’s hold on the league.

Cover image: sipg-fc.com

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Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.

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