Who is heading for promised land of Chinese Super League as Guangzhou Evergrande put one hand on sixth title?
With just two places in the top-flight available, Tianjin Quanjian, Guizhou Zicheng and Qingdao Huanghai are level on points at the top of China’s League One heading into the final fixtures this weekend
Guangzhou Evergrande may not have won the Chinese Super League for a record sixth time despite thrashing Shijiazhuang Everbright by six goals without reply on Friday night, but it seems a foregone conclusion that the title will end up in the southern city over the next fortnight.
There is a chance that Jiangsu Suning will run them to the wire after the Nanjing side kept their own title hopes alive after beating Shanghai SIPG 2-1 on Saturday night to remain seven points adrift.
They have three games to go, the biggest of which is when Jiangsu host the champions in the middle of those final fixtures next Wednesday.
It could all be over by next weekend, which would render the meeting of the Super League’s top two a dead rubber among Evergrande’s victory procession, but that’s not the case in China League One.
Watch: Shijiazhuang Everbright 0 Guangzhou Evergrande 6
The top two met at the weekend when first-placed Tianjin Quanjian visited second-placed Guizhou Zicheng.
The hosts won 2-1 to join the league leaders on 56 points with just one game to play after Hong Kong centreback Festus Baise capped the comeback with the winner in the 90th minute.
The pair are level on points with third-placed Qingdao Huanghai, who romped to a 4-1 win over Beijing Renhe.
The goal glut has come too late for their goal difference as they sit on plus-seven, well behind the plus-20 of Guizhou and plus-31 of the Tianjin side.
Only the top two gain promotion to the promised land, so it is going to be a nervous 90 minutes for all three sides when the final game of the season kicks off on Saturday.
Guizhou Zicheng face a long journey from Guiyang to Urumqi to face 10th-placed Xinjiang Tianshan Leopards.
The home side have lost six on the bounce, but it is still an away game that would be best described as difficult.
A four-hour flight is the quickest way to get to their difficult away game against, making it more akin to one of the more distant Europa League fixtures rather than a league fixture.
Watch: Jiangsu Suning 2 Shanghai SIPG 1
Third-placed Qingdao Huanghaiare also away, but make the relatively short hop north to Dalian where they take on Dalian Yifang.
It’s only an hour on a plane, so it has to be a better proposition despite the home team sitting in fifth spot and their unpredictable form.
Guangzhou Evergrande put one hand on the Chinese title as Super League battle enters championship rounds
Tianjin Quanjian are definitely in the driving seat as not only are they sitting on top of the table, they also finish the season at home with a game against Meizhou Hakka, who are in ninth spot making them the most mid-table of the 11 teams in that part of the standings.
None of the sides other than the top three has anything to play for as the relegation spots have been decided with Qingdao Jonoon joining the long since demoted Hunan Xiangtao in the drop.
They will be replaced next season by Lijiang Jiayunhao and Baoding Yingli Yitong, who won the play-offs this weekend.
So what can the Super League expect next season? Tianjin are managed by former Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro and have some big name players like Luis Fabiano, once a mainstay in the Brazil team, and Jadson.
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Rumour has it that he will be joined next season by former international and Sevilla teammate Dani Alves, but their owners will be sure to splash the cash as they have done so far.
Since fully taking over the club at the start of they season, they made China international Sun Ke their first statement signing before adding his national teammates Zhao Xuri and goalkeeper Zhang Lu.
The other promotion candidates are less glamourous, but they are unlikely to stay that way as both take their new names for this season from their corporate owners.
Qingdao Huanghai are named after a pharmaceutical company, while Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng take their name from a real estate developer.
It promises to be a weekend of high drama for who goes up to the Super League before a close season of high spending to see if they can stay there.