The season of a Chinese Super League that started five months late and without spectators will culminate with the carnivirus Fabio Cannavaro facing Jiangsu Suning in front of 7000 fans of Guangzhou Evergrande.
The title decider is on two feet on the neutral territory in Suzhou, the first match on Sunday and the second on Thursday.
The CSL was greatly improved when it was launched in July to protect players and make up for lost time due to the epidemic.
Players and coaches have been kept away from the public in two safe “bubbles” in Suzhou and Dalian, although some spectators have been allowed to return in recent weeks.
The 16 teams have competed in a two-legged Nakaya competition to decide the final league placement instead of the regular domestic and away format.
Despite the setback, CSL managed to retain their title with Cannavaro’s Evergrande, the eight-time champions, two matches away from retaining the title.
Italy’s World Cup winner says he will have to put aside his friendship with Romania’s Cosmin Olaraiu.
The 47-year-old said: “I made fun of him in the first round of the league, hopefully we can make it to the final. The 47-year-old said that when his side beat Beijing Guan 3-1 in the semi-final match.
“Actually, I don’t think there are any obvious shortcomings in his pitch,” said Conanwaro, who last had his first major honor as head coach with Evergrande.
The teams met twice in the first round of the CSL, Evergrande won the first match 2-1 but Sunning returned the score in return.
Former Barcelona midfielder Paulinho converted a penalty kick twice against Guan and team-mate Anderson Talisca of Brazil, but Canvarrow is worried about his health in 90 minutes.
The Chinese Football Association has reduced the number of spectators due to the virus but expects about 7,000 fans to come in each leg.
– Wuhan trap in danger –
Jiangsu Suning, based in the eastern city of Nanjing, owns a large solar group, which also owns Inter Milan.
The team has never won a CSL but has been runner-up since Evergrande in 2012 and 2016.
His star man is also a Brazilian, striker Alex Tixira, who was valued at around 50 50 million when he joined Shakhtar Donetsk in 2016, allegedly turned down Liverpool.
The 30-year-old has scored nine goals this season, one in every other match.
Despite playing an hour with only 10 men, Olaraiu’s men reached the final by beating Brazil’s Oscar captain Shanghai SIPG 3-2 in extra time.
The 51-year-old, who has won league titles in Romania, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, said: “They deserve to be there for the work they have done and the sacrifices they have made.
“The day after the game (against SIPG), I said that there are moments in life that we will never forget.
“And these days they will never forget.”
At the other end of the CSL, Wuhan Zal, the epidemic’s Grand Zero and Zero team, plays Shijiazhuang Ever Bright on two legs, after losing on Saturday.
The winner is still in serious danger of extinction and must face the runner-up in the second division for a place in next season’s CSL.