CSL, 2017: Who are China's versions of Real Madrid, Liverpool and United?
Chongqing Lifan – Newcastle United
Despite the fact there has been no title challenge for some time, Chongqing were the fourth-best supported club in the whole league last season, with around 36,000 fans flocking to the stadium in the sprawling city.
There was some genuine success in the ‘90s, but Chongqing have struggled a little in recent years, including twice being relegated to the second division.
Yet there is real potential in the sprawling city and there have been two mid-table finishes in the two seasons since promotion back to the top tier.
Yanbian Funde – Augsburg
The sleepy Bavarian city may not seem to have much in common with the area of Yanbian right in the northeast corner of China with winters that are no joke, but there is one similarity that stands out.
Yanbian stands across the border from North Korea and is home to a large population of ethnic Koreans, while the club Yanbian Funde also has a number of South Koreans in its squad, helping the unfashionable team to a healthy ninth place in a first top-flight season.
Bundesliga outfit Augsburg have also enjoyed success with the help of Korean players, with the departure of Hong Jeong-ho to China last season reducing the contingent to two – Koo Ja Cheol and Ji Dong-won.
Liaoning Whowin – Aston Villa
The club does not make the headlines as much as it once did, but there are few others in the league that have the same history.
Liaoning have been around for over half a century, winning the championship before Chinese football was even semi-professional. Then there was a period of dominance when six league titles came in seven years in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
Before Guangzhou’s Asian Champions League success in 2013, Liaoning were the last Chinese club to rule Asia, winning the 1990 continental title. But they are still fighting to reclaim their place at the top of Chinese football.
Changchun Yatai – VfL Wolfsburg
Like the Germans, Changchun were an unfashionable team that came out of almost nowhere to win the title in the previous decade. It gets cold up in the far northeast, but the team was red hot for a few years.
Changchun struggled to make any impact in the Asian Champions League and then fell back into the pack since the wave of Chinese Super League spending started back in 2011.
All the ingredients are still there for a return to the upper echelons though.
Tianjn Teda – Everton
The port city club is an almost permanent feature of the Chinese Super League without actually coming close to winning the title.
Hovering on the fringes of the top six for some time early in the new millennium, Tianjin have struggled to match the spending of some of the other clubs and have been overtaken in the glamour stakes by big-spending city rivals.
There has been a recent injection of cash and it remains to be seen how it all plays out, but the lower reaches of the top half are the best they can realistically hope for.
Henan Jianye – West Bromwich Albion
This is one of those clubs that traditionally operates under the radar, with the occasional relegation and swift promotion to liven things up.
Well-run, Henan are more than capable of finishing in the top or bottom six.
They tend to perform well despite not spending the big amounts that others do and deserve more credit than they receive.
Tianjin Quanjian – Leipzig RB
Leipzig have rattled a few feathers in Germany with their rapid rise to the top after being taken over by Red Bull, the Austrian company responsible for manufacturing the energy drink.
This kind of ownership is something of an affront to German football sensibilities, but the newly-promoted team is challenging for the title.
The herbal company that has taken over Tianjin is one of a number of private sector owners in China, but these unfashionable easterners are now in the top-flight and are expecting to do well under Fabio Cannavaro, with Abel Witsel and Alexandro Pato in the squad too.
Guizhou Zhicheng – Burnley
From an unfashionable part of the country, the team was in the third tier as recently in 2014 before two promotions in the last three years allowed fans to look forward to a debut season in the top tier.
Not expected to be challenging for any titles just yet, Guizhou will provide a challenging away trip for any team.
As such, home form could be their salvation.