Get ready for new Chinese Super League champions: Guangzhou Evergrande run will be stopped say Fifa 19 and Football Manager

Who is going to win the 2018 title? No one knows so we ran season simulations, asked the bookies and checked the stats

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2018, 2:25pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2018, 2:25pm

This Chinese Super League season is officially the hardest fought title race of the Guangzhou Evergrande era. Wins for leaders Shanghai SIPG and the champions means that the four-point margin remains with five games to go and Evergrande are yet to have reached the summit this season. Over the last 26 weeks, Shanghai SIPG have been top for 14, Beijing Guoan for 10 and Shandong Luneng for two.

In 2015, when Evergrande were run close by SIPG, this matchweek was the one that they reached the summit to stay there for the remainder of the campaign. The earliest that can happen now is week 27. The question is whether they manage that or if this is the season that their run of titles is ended.

With the jury out on whether they can continue their phenomenal title run or not, it seemed time to turn to the prediction professionals: Fifa 19, Football Manager 18, stats website FiveThirtyEight and the bookmakers.

The management simulation

Football Manager’s thousands of scouts around the world have created a peerless game database so well regarded that professional clubs have used it for their own recruitment. They should have a pretty good idea of who might come out on top.

The set-up for this game was that the FM18 engine was started at the beginning of 2018 and that no teams were selected as user controlled. In fact, the manager went “on holiday” until December to see the final league table. The teams all started with the squads as of the end of the 2017 season.

Hebei China Fortune won the league by two points, which would be the tightest winning margin in the CSL since 2007 when Changchun edged Beijing Guoan by a point and 2009 when the reverse happened.

This could be the case in the 2018 season, where one of the remaining five matches sees SIPG travel to Evergrande ­– and in this simulation a meeting between the clubs proved pivotal. Evergrande’s 3-1 loss away to Shanghai was the moment that tipped the balance in Hebei’s favour and the champions never recovered.

Champions: Hebei China Fortune FC – 66 points

Second place: Guangzhou Evergrande – 64 points

Champions League spots: Shandong Luneng, Tianjin Quanjian

Anthony Modeste top scored with 18 as Tianjin Quanjian finished fourth, while in real life he will not add to his four this season after refusing to play.

Jackson Martinez hit an impressive 17. He did not play for the team this season and left for Portugal on loan in the summer window.

Eran Zahavi hit 17. He’s on 17 this season.

Assists were led by Beijing Guoan’s Jonathan Viera (14), Hebei’s Ezequiel Lavezzi (13) and Evergrande’s Nemanja Guledj (12).

Real life Viera has eight so far while Lavezzi has not hit last season’s heights and is on six. Guledj left for Europe in the summer.

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The video game simulation

With the Chinese Super League newly added for Fifa 19, its teams and the division are playable in both career mode and as standalone tournaments.

This simulation was a single season tournament of the CSL with the players current up to the summer transfer window – that means Guangzhou Evergrande get Paulinho and Anderson Talisca from the start.

That did not help them, though. Shanghai SIPG romped the league by seven points, a situation that could become reality when the league leaders travel to Tianhe Stadium to face the champions on November 3.

Champions: Shanghai SIPG – 67 points

Second place: Guangzhou Evergrande – 60 points

Champions League spots: Hebei China Fortune, Shandong Luneng

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Oscar was the top scorer (18 goals) and provider (10 assists). His real season is 18 assists and 12 goals, so he’s performing up to his video game standard.

Elkeson matched him goal for goal, while he has seven in 12 games in 2018. Nikola Jelavic at Renhe hitting 15 alongside Eran Zahavi is also at odds with reality.

Alan at Evergrande had seven assists as did Beijing Guoan’s Wei Shihao – the only Chinese player to get near the top of a table in either game.

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The statisticians

Stats website FiveThirtyEight has been crunching numbers since the 2008 US presidential election when it successfully predicted that Obama’s victory and the results for every single senate race.

Baseball analyst Nate Silver is behind the site but it has gone way beyond sport, as the name suggests – 538 is the number of electors in the US electoral college.

The Chinese Super League is one of the leagues that they model each week and with five games to go, Fivethirtyeight has Shanghai SIPG as favourites at 63 per cent probability to win the title and Guangzhou Evergrande at 37 per cent. This has reduced from 65 per cent to 35 per cent probability.

Champions: Shanghai SIPG

Second place: Guangzhou Evergrande

Champions League: Shandong Luneng, Beijing Guoan

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The bookmakers

Oddschecker is the website of choice for those looking to compare odds from major bookmakers and the market for the Chinese Super League is represented.

There are currently six bookmakers offering odds on up to five teams.

They have Shanghai SIPG as favourites.The longest price they have for SIPG to be champions is $1.2, and $4.5 for Evergrande.

Conclusions

Evergrande are right to be worried – or they should stay away from Fifa 19, Football Manager 18 and the internet. Beijing Guoan are apparently over-performing while Hebei and Tianjin Quanjian are letting everyone down and Shandong Luneng deserve Champions League football. No one seems to know Wu Lei and we’re no closer to knowing who will win the CSL title.

On to the international break ...