Guangzhou Evergrande must put continental concerns to one side when they take on Shanghai Shenhua on Saturday.
The reigning Chinese Super League holders face a make-or-break clash with Yokohama F Marinos in the AFC Champions League next week, with all four teams in Group G currently tied on seven points.
But Evergrande – 2-0 losers at Melbourne Victory on Tuesday – will have to put thoughts of progression to the back of their minds this weekend as they bid to preserve their position at the summit domestically.
Marcello Lippi’s men have been in fine form so far this term, losing just one of their opening six league fixtures, and welcome a Shenhua side who picked up just their second win of the season against Dalian Aerbin last time out.
Beijing Guoan – facing a similarly crucial Champions League encounter with FC Seoul next Wednesday – have so far successfully managed to keep pace with Evergrande, with whom they are tied on 15 points at the top.
However, they host fourth-placed Shandong Luneng – another side with a shot at qualifying for the latter stages of the Champions League next week – in a potentially tricky fixture.
Striker Vagner Love has scored four goals in four matches in continental competition this season, and Luneng will be hoping he can find his domestic shooting boots and fire them above Guoan in the league.
At the other end of the table, Harbin Yiteng remain in danger of being cut adrift with the season just six games old.
The division’s basement club have not registered a single victory since winning promotion last year, and their next opportunity to get off the mark comes in the shape of a trip to Hangzhou.
Yiteng are five points adrift of the three teams directly above them – Tianjin Teda, Dalian Aerbin and Changchun Yatai – who are set to meet Liaoning Whowin, Shanghai SIPG and Guangzhou R&F respectively.
In the weekend’s remaining fixtures, Henan Jianye are at home to Guizhou Renhe on Friday, and Shanghai Shenxin host Jiangsu Sainty on Sunday.
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