AFC Champions League 2017: Matchday four - East Zone preview

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Round four of Asia's primary club tournament is set to start for the East Zone clubs from Tuesday....

Matchday four is about to commence in the East Zone of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League 2017 group stages and a plethora of interesting clashes await us. As such let's take a sneak peek at how the groups stand what we can expect from the matches: 


Naomichi Ueda Kashima Antlers v Brisbane Roar AFC Champions League 14032017

Brisbane Roar (AUS) v Kashima Antlers (JPN): Having gained a crucial 3-0 win over Brisbane Roar at home in the last round that put them on top of the group, Kashima Antlers will be travelling to Australia for the reverse fixture, eager to consolidate their position. The 2016 FIFA Club World Cup runners-up have overcome a minor hiccup against Muangthong United and now looks to have found their rhythm back. 

Brisbane Roar, on the other hand, have been very poor so far and are not expected to pose much of a challenge to the Japanese outfit. They are yet to score a goal in the tournament and could be eliminated if they suffer a third loss in four games on Wednesday. 

Venue: Brisbane Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: April 12, 19:00 UTC+10

Muangthong United (THA) v Ulsan Hyundai (KOR): Muangthong United have been the surprise packages of this year's tournament so far and find themselves in second spot in the group. When they host Korean side Ulsan Hyundai on Wednesday, their focus will be to continue their good results. The Thai side are unbeaten in the tournament and have been showcasing a clean style of football and have conceded the least amount of fouls by any team so far. 

Ulsan Hyundai, meanwhile, will hope to have better the 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture in the previous round and leapfrog their opponents in the table. The Korean side will not find the task easy though. 

Venue: Thunderdome Stadium, Nonthaburi
Kick-off: April 12, 19:30 UTC+7


Shanghai SIPG vs Urawa Red Diamonds

Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN) v Shanghai SIPG (CHN): A heavyweight clash in Group F awaits us as Urawa Red Diamonds host Shanghai SIPG, looking to dish out some revenge after suffering a 2-3 defeat in China in the reverse fixture. Moreover, Shanghai lead the group with nine points from three games and Urawa will be looking to draw level with the Chinese team on Tuesday. 

Shanghai, though, will be sweating over the fitness of star man Hulk while Urawa will definitely miss their star man Shinzo Koroki. Urawa have been in goof form domestically and have never lost a home AFC Champions League game to a Chinese side. Will that record remain unbroken? We'll know soon enough. 

Venue: Saitama Stadium, Saitama
Kick-off: April 11, 19:30 UTC+9

ACL 2017: West Zone Preview

Western Sydney Wanders (AUS) v FC Seoul (KOR): FC Seoul will be fighting for survival when they travel to Australia to take on Western Sydney Wanderers on Tuesday. The Korean team, who were the semifinalists last year, suffered a 2-3 reverse in the previous round against the A-League side and badly need to register their first points this time around. 

Interestingly, FC Seoul have only managed one win in their last six games in the AFC Champions League but they will look to exploit the Wanderers' defence which has been extremely leaky, to say the least. The A-League side, though, can go up to six points with a win at home and if results go their way, find themselves level with Urawa Red Diamonds in second spot. 

Venue: Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: April 11, 20:00 UTC+10


Alan Douglas de Carvalho of Guangzhou Evergrande takes a penalty during the team's AFC Champions League group stage football match against Eastern FC in Guangzhou

Kawasaki Frontale (JPN) v Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN): Guangzhou Evergrande were dealt a late blow by Kawasaki Frontale when they met in the reverse fixture in Guangzhou which ended 1-1. Luis Felipe Scolari's men will badly want to get back to winning ways, given that back-to-back draws after the opening round win has hampered them. Guangzhou are still joint-top of the group with five points but all teams are withing reach and hence makes this fixture extremely vital. 

Kawasaki Frontale can leapfrog Guangzhou with a win on Wednesday but they also need to break their 'draw' streak. In fact, they have drawn every single game in the group so far. The Japanese side have a tough proposition but it is not impossible. 

Venue: Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium, Kawasaki
Kick-off: April 12, 19:00 UTC+9

Suwon Samsung Bluewings (KOR) v Eastern SC (HKG): Suwon Bluewings have a great chance to solidify their top-two position in the group when they host minnows Eastern SC, coached by history-making female coach Chan Yuen-ting. The side from Hong Kong are making their first-ever AFC Champions League appearance and could see their fairytale journey end if they are defeated on Wednesday, provided Guangzhou also win their match. 

In the reverse fixture in the previous round, Suwon ran out 1-0 winners. It was also the South Korean side's first win this campaign. But they have not been beaten in the tournament for seven games running now. A win is probably beyond Eastern SC but they will surely give a fight to the Korean side. 

Venue: Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon
Kick-off: April 12, 19:00 UTC+9


Gamba Osaka vs Jiangsu Suning

Jiangsu FC (CHN) v Gamba Osaka (JPN): Chinese outfit Jiangsu Suning FC are on the verge of qualifying for the knockout stages when they host Japanese outfit Gamba Osaka on Tuesday. Having won all their games so far, Ramires and co. have put their domestic miseries to bed with their continental form. Jiangsu will be looking to repeat their 1-0 win in the reverse fixture. 

Moreover, they have lost only one of their last 10 AFC Champions League games while Gamba Osaka, in stark contrast, have won only one of their previous 11 continental ties. Another loss might just see Gamba's hopes of progression vanish into thin air. 

Venue: Nanjing Olympic Sports Center, Nanjing
Kick-off: April 11, 19:35 UTC+8

Amor not thinking of Adelaide extension

Jeju United (KOR) v Adelaide United (AUS): Group H's bottom-placed team Adelaide United face the prospect of elimination when they travel to take on Korean outfit Jeju United on Tuesday. The A-League outfit have just the single point to show for their efforts and it came in the reverse fixture in Adelaide which ended 3-3. The South Australians are enduring a troubling season on all fronts and sit second bottom in the A-League. 

As such, Jeju United are the favourites to notch a win and stake a claim for the second spot in the group. Moreover, Jeje have never lost an AFC Champions League tie against an Australian opposition.