Kevin Muscat and his players found out the hard way just how tough life is in the ACL last time out, now they must make amends by putting up a fight against the K-League side
Past five matches:
The Victory may have steadied their A-League form in recent weeks – derby defeat aside – but now must get off the mark in the ACL if they hope to progress. Wins at home will be pivotal if Kevin Muscat's side are to progress to the knockout stage, but it won't be an easy task against the Korean giants. The Victory will at least be boosted by the return of Socceroos pair Tom Rogic and Mark Milligan, while Nick Ansell is likely to come straight back into the side after missing the weekend's win over the Mariners through suspension. The young centre back will need to stiffen up a back four that has been rather leaky and was torn to shreds in the second half against Guangzhou a fortnight ago. They will face a Jeonbuk side which is high on confidence after starting their season with back-to-back 3-0 victories. After crushing Yokohama on matchday one, Choi Kang-hee's troops opened their K-League season with a dominant performance against Busan. Jeonbuk, who won the ACL back in 2006, have a star-studded squad that includes Australian defender Alex Wilkinson, star veteran Korea striker Lee Dong-gook and a trio of Brazilians in Leonardo, Kaio and Aurelio who add class and goals to a well-structured and disciplined side.
The big issue:
Victory – As we've already touched on, the Victory have had struggles at the back this season. While they have rarely had a settled back four due to injury and suspension, they have been prone to making silly mistakes which has allowed opposition side's to punish them. Having shipped 12 goals in their last four matches, the Victory must tighten up at the back if they are any chance of getting the ACL campaign up and running.
Jeonbuk – With a wealth of quality right throughout their squad and confidence after a flying start to the season, it seems only complacency can stop the Korean's. They would have seen how easily Guangzhou opened up the Victory in the second half of that clash two weeks ago and will back themselves to do something similar. But if they head Down Under with the wrong attitude and with one eye already on their weekend K-League clash with Incheon United , they might just cop a rude shock.
The game breaker:
Tom Rogic – The classy midfielder has yet to reach his full potential since his loan move from Celtic but the Victory will need him to deliver if they are to prevail. Rogic not only possesses the passing quality to unlock what is a stingy Jeonbuk defence but is also dangerous when he finds the space to turn at run at the back four. If the Victory midfield can get the ball to his feet in the right areas, the 21-year-old will create goal-scoring opportunities which will need to be taken against a Korean side known for the clinical attack down the other end.
Prediction: Victory 2-3 Jeonbuk
Given the Victory's willingness to attack their opponents - and problems at the back - there is sure to be goals in this one. The big question is will the home side's attack be able to score enough to make up for whatever they let in down the other end. While the heart may say yes, the Korean's superior pace, passing and technical quality is likely to win out in a thriller.