The group stages of the AFC Champions League 2017 is about to come to close this week. Muangthong United and Kashima Antlers (both Group E), Urawa Red Diamonds and Shanghai SIPG (both Group G) and Jiangsu FC (Group H) have already qualified and only three spots remain. As such, let's take a look at the battles that await us in East Zone this week:-
Kashima Antlers (JPN) v Muangthong United (THA): The top spot in Group E is up for grabs as two teams already assured of their spot in the knockout stages face-off on Wednesday. Kashima Antlers, placed second in the group, host Thai side Muangthong United. Only two points separate the two sides and as such a victory will see Kashima win the group.
However, Muangthong United only needs to avoid a defeat to finish top. When the two sides met each other in the reverse fixture in Thailand, Muangthong United prevailed 2-1 and the Japanese side will only be too keen to pay them back and wrest the top spot as well.
Venue: Kashima Soccer Stadium, Ibaraki
Kick-off: May 10, 19:00 UTC+9
Brisbane Roar (AUS) v Ulsan Hyundai (KOR): When Brisbane Roar host South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai on Wednesday, there is only pride to play for, seeing that both teams have already been eliminated. Roar and Ulsan are locked with four points each. As such, either team will want to finish on a high and avoid the bottom spot in the standings.
The A-League outfit have had a forgettable campaign and have conceded a massive 13 goals in five games and have scored just the two. Ulsan have fared better and have a goal difference of just one. Moreover, the reverse fixture saw Ulsan hammer Roar 6-0 and the home team would be eyeing revenge.
Venue: Brisbane Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: May 10, 20:00 UTC+10
FC Seoul (KOR) v Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN): The two qualifying spots in Group F have already been decided and only the top spot remains to be claimed on matchday six. That will be the aim of Urawa Red Diamonds as they travel to South Korea to take on already-eliminated FC Seoul. Having a better head-to-head record than Shanghai SIPG, the Japanese outfit only needs to match Shanghai's result to win the group.
In the reverse fixture, Urawa Red Diamonds had inflicted a heavy 5-2 defeat on FC Seoul who only have three points from five games so far. There is every probability that they will be condemned to another defeat by Urawa who will badly want that top spot for themselves.
Venue: Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul
Kick-off: May 10, 19:00 UTC+9
Western Sydney Wanderers (AUS) v Shanghai SIPG (CHN): Another tough day awaits A-League outfit Western Sydney Wanderers as they host Chinese outfit Shanghai SIPG who are in the hunt for the top spot in Group F. The Wanderers have already been eliminated and have just three points from five games so far. Shanghai, on the other hand, need to better the result of Urawa Red Diamonds if they are to win the group.
Western Sydney Wanderers, who have conceded a massive 20 goals in five games so far, are rank outsiders against a well-marshalled team which pummelled them 5-1 in the reverse fixture. It has not been a campaign to remember for the Wanderers.
Venue: Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: May 10, 20:00 UTC+10
Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN) v Suwon Bluewings (KOR): Group G leaders Guangzhou Evergrande host South Korea's Suwon Bluewings on Tuesday, knowing that they need to avoid defeat to secure a spot in the knockout stages. With Suwon a point behind and them and Kawasaki Frontale two points behind, the group is wide open. A win will see Guangzhou win the group but a defeat could ee their fate left to the result between Kawasaki Frontale and Eastern SC.
In the reverse fixture between the sides, Suwon held Guangzhou 2-2 at home but a draw is unlikely to do them much favour this time around. But if they win, Suwon will win the group. Guangzhou have been in good form domestically while Suwon suffered a loss during the weekend to Ulsan Hyundai.
Venue: Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou
Kick-off: May 9, 18:30 UTC+8
Kawasaki Frontale (JPN) v Eastern SC (HKG): When Kawasaki Frontale host Hong Kong's Eastern SC, the Japanese outfit know that a win will see them qualify for the knockout stages regardless of the result in the other Group G game. They should find the task pretty straightforward given that Eastern SC have just the single point from five games so far and are already eliminated.
However, their only point came on a 1-1 draw at home against Kawasaki Frontale and the Japanese side would do well to bring their A-game on Tuesday. As far as domestic form is considered, Kawasaki are on a high after a 4-0 win while Eastern were beaten 4-1 at the weekend.
Venue: Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium, Kawasaki
Kick-off: May 9, 19:30 UTC+9
Adelaide United (AUS) v Jiangsu FC (CHN): Adelaide United, placed third in the group with five points, have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages should they beat group toppers Jiangsu Suning on Tuesday and Jeju United fail to gain all three points in the other Group H match. However, the task will be hard against Jiangsu who have already secured top spot in the group.
Adelaide United will be boosted by the return of Dylan McGowan, Taylor Regan and Riley McGree from suspension while Jiangsu will be hampered by the suspensions of Ramires and Tao Yuan. Interestingly, Jiangsu are yet to win a league game this season but their continental campaign has been wonderful. Expect a tough game on Tuesday.
Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide
Kick-off: May 9, 19:30 UTC+9:30
Jeju United (KOR) v Gamba Osaka (JPN): Both Jeju United and Gamba Osaka are in with chances of progressing to the knockout stages when the teams clash on Tuesday in South Korea. A win is of paramount importance for both teams. Gamba Osaka need to win by at least three goals and hope that Adelaide don;t win their game in order to qualify while Jeju United needs to win or risk being eliminated.
Gamba Osaka will have the 4-1 defeat they suffered in the reverse fixture fresh on their minds and will need to better their head-to-head record with a heavy win on Tuesday. Expect sparks to fly as a draw doesn't help either team.
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium, Jeju
Kick-off: May 9, 19:00 UTC+9