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AFC Champions League

ACL Matchday 6 Preview: It’s all up for grabs now

The final matchday of the Asian Champions League is upon us and three of the four Chinese sides still have a chance to go through. The next two days will see fans in China on edge as they watch their own club and look to results from across Asia.

Guizhou Renhe have already been eliminated and will travel to Sydney to take on the Western Sydney Wanderers, a match that still has significance for the home side. Unfortunately, our focus is on Guizhou and so we won’t spend any more time on this one.

Guangzhou Evergrande v. Yokohama F Marinos
Tuesday, April 22 – 19:00

This is the tightest of all groups, with each team on seven points, but Evergrande sitting top of the group due to goal differential (head-to-head being thrown out the window due to everyone having beaten everyone else). In their last clash, the result was a 1-1 draw with Evergrande countering an early first half goal with an equalizer later in the first half from Alessandro Diamanti. The champions will be at home for this one, where they’ve won their previous two ACL matches, but will be missing both Diamanti and Zheng Zhi. In the other match, Jeonbuck host Melbourne Victory, with it looking likely that both of the home sides will go through.

FC Seoul v. Beijing Guoan
Wednesday, April 23 – 18:30

With Sanfrecce’s surprise comeback at Gongti last week, Guoan are now in trouble of not advancing. Seoul are in the driver’s seat and a point is enough to see them through, but anything less and last year’s finalists could be out of the competition. When the two sides met in Beijing, it was a late Seoul equalizer that saw the sides split the points. The Beijingers will be missing Ha Dae-sung, due to his transfer agreement, meaning an already weakened side will be down to bare bones. It’s hard to see Beijing winning this one and a point is unlikely to be enough. In the other match, Sanfrecce host Central Coast, with the home side needing a win if they want to advance.

Shandong Luneng v. Cerezo Osaka
Wednesday, April 23 – 19:00

Similar to Evergrande, Shandong will be hosting a Japanese side at home on the last matchday. While Pohang Steelers are already clearly through to the knockout round, the other three sides are all level on points. Shandong came through on the second matchday with an impressive 3-1 result in Osaka, with Vagner Love providing two of the goals (he has fully half of Shandong’s goals in the group stage). Cerezo has drawn both of their road matches, but both sides will be looking desperately for all three points to move onto the next round. Buriram travel to Pohang in the other match, with the Korean side already through it will be interesting to see if they rest their starters, which could have implications on the Shandong match; Buriram have the advantage in head-to-head over Shandong, while Osaka hold the advantage over Buriram. If I was a betting man, I’d say Buriram go through with a win as Shandong and Cerezo fight to a draw.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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