ACL Matchday Four: east zone preview

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 23, 2019
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Elkeson (2nd L) of Shanghai SIPG competes during the 2019 AFC Champions League group H match between Shanghai SIPG and Sydney FC at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Sydney, Australia, April 10, 2019. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)

The 16 teams in the East Zone of the 2019 AFC Champions League are back in action in the coming days as the group stage enters the business end of proceedings. 

First up are the sides in Groups F and H, who will play their Matchday Four fixtures on Tuesday, before the remaining teams in Groups E and G round off the week's action on Wednesday.

Group F

Three teams sit on six points in Group F ahead of the fourth round of games, with Guangzhou Evergrande, Daegu FC and Sanfrecce Hiroshima fighting it out for the top two positions, while Melbourne Victory are still seeking their first points.

Table-toppers Guangzhou will look to make it back-to-back wins over Melbourne when they take to the field in Australia on Tuesday, having recorded a resounding 4-0 victory over the A-League side in China two weeks ago.

Daegu, meanwhile, will look to rebound from their 2-0 defeat to Sanfrecce on Matchday Three when they welcome the Japanese team to Korea Republic for the return fixture.

In a congested group, victory for any of the top three could prove crucial in their quest for knockout stage qualification, while Melbourne realistically need all three points to remain in the competition.

Group H

After playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw on Matchday Three, Shanghai SIPG and Sydney FC will renew acquaintances once more when the sides face off in China on Tuesday.

Shanghai leveled in the last minute to secure a valuable point two weeks ago and have a formidable home record. Victory will leave them in the top two with two games to play, while bottom side Sydney will be looking to record their first win of the campaign. 

Elsewhere, table-toppers Ulsan Hyundai travel to Japan to take on Kawasaki Frontale after posting a 1-0 victory over the J.League team two weeks ago.

If Ulsan win they could seal their place in the last 16 with two matches to spare, while victory for Kawasaki would move them within a point of the 2012 winners and set up a thrilling final two rounds of fixtures.

Group E

Defending champions Kashima Antlers will all but seal their place in the knockout rounds if they can secure back-to-back victories over Korea Republic's Gyeongnam FC on Wednesday.

Kashima came from two down to score in stoppage time and claim a 3-2 win at Gyeongnam two weeks ago to put them on the verge of progression, while the K-League side are now in desperate need of their first victory of the campaign.

Johor Darul Ta'zim, meanwhile, remain in the hunt for their first AFC Champions League win and welcome China's Shandong Luneng to southern Malaysia on Matchday Four.

Shandong won 2-1 in the reverse fixture and should the Chinese Super League team make it successive victories they would almost certainly eliminate JDT.

Group G

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors would put one foot in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League if they can make it two wins from two against Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds.

A 1-0 victory over the 2017 champions in Saitama two weeks ago left Jeonbuk two points clear at the Group G summit at the midway stage. Urawa, however, would leapfrog the K League side should they avenge that loss.

Finally, Beijing FC will move into the top two in the group if they can follow up their 3-1 win over Thailand's Buriram United on Matchday Three with victory in the Chinese capital.

Buriram are bottom of the table but just three points off top and would also move into the top two if they can record a surprise win in Beijing.

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