CSL on Fifa 19: not quite fantasy football but you can see why the China league is joining the EA party

Game week 14 provided an opportunity as good as any to remind everyone of why the league and the players in it might actually matter

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 5:11pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 5:11pm

In the first round of games after the Chinese Super League continued on Friday, it was confirmed that the CSL will be included in the latest iteration of the incredibly successful video games series.

Game week 14 provided an opportunity as good as any to remind everyone of why the league and the players in it might actually matter.

Case 1 – The China derby

A bit of needle is a good thing and this game has more needle than a factory that puts together sewing kits. The historic rivalry of the country is between the capital and the biggest city, in football terms that manifests as Beijing Guoan v Shanghai Shenhua and boy did it manifest at Shanghai’s Hongkou Stadium on Saturday night.

Floodlights, a heatwave and a vast number of away fans not knowing if they were going to get in added to the atmosphere but the game delivered in a way that belied the first versus sixth of the table and the seven-point gap.

The Beijingers snatched the lead before the interval thanks to their Brazilian midfielder Renato Augusto before Shanghai’s very own Eddy “Aidi” Francis tapped in a rebound – the Shanghai-born son of a Shanghainese mother and East African father, the 27-year-old defender has been accepted by the fans despite his previous ties to the team that became SIPG.

He’s exactly the kind of cult figure that belies his Fifa 18 rating of 63 with Boavista.

It was another player with an African connection that looked to have won it for the leaders. Cedric Bakambu is the most expensive African footballer in history, and is an even stronger case to be the CSL signing of the season. He scored another to make it look like the leaders had edged it. But there was still time for more drama.

Case 2 - A bananas own goal

Substitute Wei Shihao had entered the fray for Beijing and he made his mark. Instead of clearing the ball in the Guoan area with his left boot he used his right to find the corner of the net and leave the keeper with no chance. Anyone who has ever played Fifa with a lower league team would recognise the goal for what it was: pure artistry painted by the gods of football themselves.

That or the former Shandong Luneng youth prospect, who was most recently on loan at SIPG, does not want Guoan to win the title. At least not yet.

Case 3 – The title race (that no one wants to win)

The leaders drew, as did the team behind them. Shandong Luneng shared the spoils with Jiangsu Suning to ensure that the top six remains the same as it was before the weekend started.

Just five points separate the top four and two of those teams have a game in hand, against one another. When SIPG do host Evergrande, a match expected to be played later in August, the result could yet have a bearing on the destination of the trophy.

At the other end, both Guizhou Zhicheng and Dalian Yifang have maintained their efforts, or lack thereof, to remain in the bottom two.

Zhicheng stay rooted to the foot of the table after a 2-1 loss to Henan Jianye, with Yifang also in the drop zone after losing 3-2 against Tianjin Teda.

Those two teams won’t be around in the CSL come Fifa 20 but right now you could basically pick anyone and have as much chance as any other team at least until the point Evergrande eventually win the league, because that’s what always happens.

Case 4 – Anderson Talisca looks very special indeed

Bakambu has 11 in 11 and SIPG’s Wu Lei has 13 in 13, his opener in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Beijing Renhe making him the all-time topscoring Chinese player in the CSL.

Wu Lei’s 88 goals is auspicious but a much luckier number for the club is that he is only 26 years old. Perhaps there will be time for a move to Europe one day – even if has to wait.

“It’s only the Chinese Super League,” is what the naysayers will mutter under their breath but Anderson Talisca has scored five in two games and has to be a dark horse for the golden boot race.

Chinese FA Cup delivers drama and heartbreak as ‘China’s Manchester United’ crash out to Super League leaders Beijing Guoan

His second was another golazo and now two of his five are worthy of a goal of the month gong.

“Before we brought Talisca in, we already knew that he can score,” said his new boss Fabio Cannavaro. “However, we can’t judge him on just two games. Let’s see.”

Let’s, but there should be more goals – the side had more than 30 shots in their 5-0 win over struggling Chongqing Lifan – more reason why he was linked with Europe’s biggest clubs.

Chinese Super League: Paulo Bento fired as Chongqing Dangdai Lifan boss but timing baffles

Case 5 – It doesn’t let up

We’re back again for more in midweek, a game that will mark the mid-point of the season.

Shandong host Shenhua, SIPG and Evergrande take on the Tianjin sides and Chris Coleman’s Hebei meet the leaders.

New Nike advert channels Cristiano Ronaldo in future where China dominates world football