17 July 2014 19:49
All eyes will be on Alberto Gilardino when he makes his debut for Chinese Super League (CSL) champions Guangzhou Evergrande on Sunday.
Gilardino linked up with Evergrande head coach Marcello Lippi, who he played under for the Italy national team, when he completed his move last Friday.
The 32-year-old – who scored 15 goals for Genoa in Serie A last season – is now set to make his eagerly awaited bow for the CSL leaders against Shandong Luneng.
Gilardino adds further firepower to a team that has scored 39 league goals this season, 12 more than the division’s second most prolific side Guangzhou RandF.
However, Luneng, who were runners-up last term, are no pushovers, and Cuca’s men – who sit fourth – will fancy their chances of an upset at the Tianhe Stadium.
Evergrande resumed the CSL season after a mid-season break by beating Shanghai Shenhua last Thursday, and now the rest of the CSL will restart their campaign.
Second-placed Beijing Guoan will look to cut the four-point gap at the top of the table in their visit to strugglers Henan Jianye on Sunday, while Guangzhou RandF – who occupy the final AFC Champions League spot – face a tough test at home to Jiangsu Sainty 24 hours earlier.
Shanghai SIPG and Tianjin Teda retain are hopeful of playing continental football next season, and the two face-off at the Shanghai Stadium on Saturday looking to gain ground on third place.
On Sunday, rock bottom Harbin Yiteng go in search of just a second CSL win of the season when they visit Guizhou Renhe, while Shanghai Shenhua and Liaoning Whowin will both attempt to pull clear of the drop zone in their encounter.
Rounding off the action, strugglers Dalian Aerbin aim to snap a three-match winless league run at home to Shanghai Shenxin, and Changchun Yatai welcome Hangzhou to the Development Area Stadium.