AFC Champions League 2018: Group Stage Matchday One Preview: West Zone

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Asia's premier club competition is all set to start on Monday with West Zone teams in action...

The AFC Champions League 2018 is all set to start on Monday, with the West Zone matches getting underway. Here is a look at what awaits us this week: 


GROUP A


Al Ahli - Al Orouba - King Cup

Al Jazira (UAE) v Al Gharafa (QAT):

The first match in Group A sees UAE's Al Jazira take on Qatari outfit Al Gharafa in Abu Dhabi on Monday. Al Jazira have not made it past the group stages in the previous two editions while Al Gharafa, with former Real Madrid midfielder Wesley Sneijder in their squad, are making their first appearance since 2013. Hence, a good start will be paramount for both teams. 

Venue: Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Kick-off: February 12, 19:30 UTC+4

Tractorsazi Tabriz (IRN) v Al Ahli (KSA):

The second match in the group will see Iran’s Tractorsazi Tabriz take on Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli at Seeb. Tabriz are returning to the competition after one year while Al Ahli reached the quarterfinal last year. The Iranian side will be the underdogs on Monday. 

Venue: Al Seeb Stadium, Seeb
Kick-off: February 12, 19:30 UTC+4


GROUP B


Al Jazira v Al Wahda Arabian Gulf League

Lokomotiv (UZB) v Al Wahda (UAE): 

In the first game in Group B, Uzbek champions Lokomotiv welcome UAE's Al Wahda. Lokomotiv, who have been performing strongly at domestic level, will want to start off on a good note against Al Wahda, the runners-up in 2007.

Venue: Lokomotiv Stadium, Tashkent
Kick-off: February 12, 16:00 UTC+5

Al Duhail (QAT) v Zob Ahan (IRN):

Qatar's Al Duhail will play Iran's Zob Ahan in the other game in Group B. Interestingly, Al Duhail - formed after the merger of Lekhwiya SC and El Jaish - are playing their first ever AFC Champions League game and will be eager to start with a win over the Iranians who exited in group stage last season. 

Venue: Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: February 12, 16:15 UTC+3


GROUP C


Persepolis vs Al Ahli

Persepolis (IRN) v Nasaf (UZB):

Iranian team Persepolis will host Uzbekistan's Nasaf at the Azadi stadium on Tuesday. Persepolis, who had a dream run in the 2017 Champions League by reaching the semifinals, will be looking to maintain their formidable home form as Nasaf come calling. 

Venue: Azadi Stadium, Tehran
Kick-off: February 13, 17:15 UTC+3:30

Al Wasl (UAE) v Al Sadd (QAT):

Al Sadd, who are the last side to win the tournament from West Zone in 2011, return to continental action for the first time since 2015 when they take on UAE's Al Wasl club on Tuesday. They have the likes of former Barcelona midfielder Xavi in their ranks but Al Wasl will be hopeful of a strong start to the season. 

Venue: Zabeel Stadium, Dubai
Kick-off: February 13, 19:00 UTC+4


GROUP D


Al Ain vs. Malkiya - AFC Champions League

Al Rayyan (QAT) v Esteghlal (IRN):

In the first game of a very strong group, Qatar's Al Rayyan host Iran's Esteghlal. Al Rayyan have not progressed past the group stages yet and this time they will be desperate to start off on a good foot on Tuesday. Esteghlal should prove to be tough opponents. 

Venue: Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: February 13, 18:10 UTC+3

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Al Hilal (KSA) v Al Ain (UAE):

2017 runners-up Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia host 2016 runners-up Al Ain of UAE on Tuesday as well in what will be a mouth-watering contest. In what will be a tight group, it is imperative for these two behemoths to start on the right note. 

Venue: King Saud University Stadium, Riyadh
Kick-off: February 13, 20:25 UTC+3

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