CSL, 2017: Who are China's versions of Real Madrid, Liverpool and United?

The Chinese Super League has become one of the world’s most talked about competitions, but for those fans just coming to grips with its clubs ahead of the 2017 season, FourFourTwo has compiled a handy guide of European equivalents…

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Guangzhou Evergrande – Real Madrid

Champions of China for the last six years, and continental winners of two of the last four Asian Champions League titles, Guangzhou are a winning machine and the biggest club in Asia.

The team that started all the spending back in 2010 that has now become the norm has a World Cup-winning coach in Luiz Felipe Scolari and a squad full of stars.

Backed by a passionate crowd at Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou have that arrogance and the dislike of the rest of the fans in the Chinese Super League that comes from being so successful.

Real and Guangzhou are both used to success

Shanghai SIPG – Barcelona

The Catalans may have MSN, but Shanghai have the HOWL to call upon – Hulk, Oscar and Wu Lei – not to mention prolific Brazilian Elkeson.

Throw in a glamorous young coach in Andre Villas Boas, an international and cosmopolitan city, plus second and third-place finishes the last two seasons, and it's easy to see why Shanghai seem to have what it takes to push Guangzhou Evergrande all the way.

Jiangsu Suning – Borussia Dortmund

Averaging almost 40,000 fans last season, the team from Nanjing established itself as a genuine challenger to Guangzhou.

It does not – yet – have the consistency of the German giants, but with loyal fans, exciting players and a real ambition to build a football empire, Jiangsu have all the ingredients in place.

Should Jiangsu build their own 'Yellow Wall'?

Shanghai Shenhua – Tottenham Hotspur

And not just for the connection between Shanghai's current manager, former Spurs star Gustavo Poyet.

There is also the feeling a club that has some of the most loyal and passionate fans in China has not yet achieved all it could, along with a suspicion this may be changing soon.

Shanghai have been runners-up eight times in the past two decades and had their one title erased due to match-fixing.

Missing out on the big prizes is part of the club's DNA, as is failing just when expectations start to rise, although it’s always exciting.

Sound familiar?

Beijing Guoan – Liverpool

This traditional powerhouse of Chinese football became less than impressed as some of the upstarts suddenly began spending money, especially Guangzhou Evergrande.

Over time, however, it became apparent that it was going to be a case of if you can't beat them – which Beijing could do but not quite enough – then join them.

There is passion at the Worker's Stadium, with an average attendance of 38,000 last season, and their fans have fierce pride in their team.

All that has been lacking is enough talent to end a growing period of time without a league championship, currently standing at seven years.

Both sides could do with some more top-shelf talent

Guangzhou R&F – Atletico Madrid

Since promotion in 2011, R&F have finished in the top seven all but once and were establishing themselves as a serious player following a third-place in 2014 under Sven Goran Eriksson.

The Swede's departure set the club back, but Dragan Stojkovic steadied the ship in 2016, guiding it to sixth.

They are destined to play second fiddle to their city neighbours for years to come, however, and it will take some doing to not be known as Guangzhou’s second team.

Hebei China Fortune – Leicester City

They harshly fired Li Tie as coach last August despite the fact the former Everton midfielder had not only led the team to promotion, but then kept them in the top four for the first five months of the season.

In came Manuel Pellegrini along with some big-name signings, but it remains to be seen if anything actually improves following last season’s seventh-place showing.

Le Tie can share Ranieri's pain

Shandong Luneng – Manchester United

The team's struggles last year – narrowly avoiding relegation – were surely an aberration as Shandong have been one of China's biggest and best teams for years and were the last champions before Guangzhou started to dominate.

They are trying to return to former glories and also have an outspoken and controversial coach in Felix Magath.

Based in the industrial city of Jinan, Shandong have talent but need to be moulded into a team.

[NEXT: Chinese comparisons to some fallen English giants]