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CSL Preview: Evergrande target Sainty response, Guoan face SIPG

Jiangsu Sainty will be braced for a Guangzhou Evergrande backlash when they host the Chinese Super League champions on Friday.

Marcello Lippi’s side slipped off the top of the table when they slumped to a surprise 3-1 home defeat against Changchun Yatai last Sunday.

It was the AFC Champions League holders’ first defeat at Tianhe Stadium in the Chinese top flight since city rivals Guangzhou R&F claimed a 1-0 derby victory back in July 2012 – and Lippi will demand a response next time out.

Evergrande only lost one game last season as they coasted to a third consecutive CSL title, meaning Yatai’s victory served as a warning that they may not got things all their own way in their pursuit of more silverware.

Sainty head into Friday’s encounter buoyed by their first league victory of the campaign, as they overcame Harbin Yiteng 2-1 at home on Saturday courtesy of goals from Dejan Damjanovic and Deng Zhuoxiang.

Gao Hongbo’s side have taken four points from their two games and can leapfrop the champions by consigning them to back-to-back defeats.

Beijing Guoan are sitting pretty at the top of the table with a 100 per cent record after seeing off Shanghai Shenhua 2-0 on Monday.

Zhang Xizhe’s penalty and a second-half goal from Pablo Batalla made it three wins out of three for Gregorio Manzano’s charges, but they can expect a stern test from second-placed Shanghai SIPG on Friday.

SIPG followed up their 5-1 derby thrashing of Shanghai Shenxin with a 2-1 win at Hangzhou last weekend, with Sweden striker Tobias Hysen taking his tally to three goals in as many games for the club following his move from IFK Gothenburg.

Guizhou Renhe have also made an encouraging start to the campaign, occupying third spot ahead of their home encounter with bottom-of-the-table Shenxin on Friday.

Renhe were 2-1 winners at Liaoning Whowin last time out and will fancy their chances of a overcoming a Shenxin side yet to pick up their first point.

Second-bottom Yiteng are also without a point, but will see Sunday’s trip to Tianjin Teda – the team directly above them – as an opportunity to get up and running.

Hangzhou will be eager to regroup after their first defeat at the hands of SIPG, which was compounded by Wang Lin’s late red card, when they travel to Guangzhou R&F on Sunday.

Friday’s other game sees Shandong Luneng host Liaoning Whowin, before Dalian Aerbin entertain a buoyant Yatai side on Saturday and Henan Jianye make the trip to Shanghai to face Shenhua on the same day.

Thu 27 March, 2014
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