The Chinese Super League is taking a break now for the upcoming round of World Cup qualifiers. So with no CSL action until the league resumes in late June, let’s look at some of the key talking points of the season so far.
Huang Xiyang’s renaissance
The 35 year old midfielder’s career seemed to be in terminal decline when he was at Wuhan a few years back. Since returning to his home town club last season however his career has seen a real turnaround. He played decently enough in 2020 and re-established himself as first team regular with Chongqing. This year however his performances have been something else and he has emerged as one of the CSL’s best domestic players so far this season.
The Boys from Brazil
Or the lack of, has been one of the Chinese Super League’s big talking points this year. Coronavirus travel restrictions have made it impossible for many clubs to get their Brazilian players back for the start of the season and this has predictably caused huge problems for some teams.
The worst affected team has probably been Guangzhou Evergrande, who haven’t looked the same this year without Talisca and Paulinho. Talisca has now just recently moved onto Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia and this could become pattern and we may see many of league’s stranded Brazilian moving on in the coming months.
Wuhan in real trouble
Wuhan’s season has got off to a torrid start with the Hubei team taking only two points from their opening five games. Their campaign really went off the rails on Monday when they endured a shock 2-1 defeat to a Tianjin Tiger side that before the season had been hyped as potentially being the CSL’s worst ever team.
Wuhan’s manager Li Xiaopeng has unsurprisingly come under a lot of criticism for the team’s poor start. His biggest issue seems to be that he is totally unsure on his best starting eleven. He has done a lot chopping and changing, and desperately trying out a wide range of players and formations in these first five matches. None of this worked out though, and Wuhan now have a very disorganised and unsettled looking side.
If things don’t turn around quickly after the international break, Li could soon be out of a job.
Tianjin Tiger are not as bad everyone expected
Widely tipped to be the whipping boys of the CSL this year, Tianjin Tiger have come out fighting and have turned heads with some dogged performances.
The ultra defensive tactics employed by Yu Genwei have largely paid off and Tiger have been a lot more competitive than people expected them to be. So far they’ve managed to grab four points from their opening five matches which is impressive considering the squad that they have and turbulent off-season they had to deal with.
Their win against Wuhan was a huge result and will give them a big lift going into the international break. But it’s unlikely that it’s going to significantly alter the way approach games. With some tough matches coming up after the break it’s likely that they are going to stick with the very conservative style of football that served them well so far.
Oscar stealing the show
The exodus of foreign talent from the CSL due to the salary cap and the absence of a lot the league’s Brazilian players due to coronavirus restrictions has led to this year’s CSL lacking the big names that recent editions have had.
One of the big names who has stayed with league this year however is Oscar and the Shanghai Port star has shined brighter than ever this year. He’s looked a cut above every other player in the league, and his brilliance has been instrumental in Port’s strong start to the season.