Asian Champions League Round 3 – Previews
As we approach round 3 and the halfway stage in this year’s ACL it’s safe to say that it’s not been all plain sailing for the Korean teams, I’m looking at you FC Seoul, and there is still a lot of work to be done if we are to have an interest beyond the summer months. It’s not been all doom and gloom though and there have been a couple of stand-out results with Jeju and Ulsan catching the eye in Round 2
|MUANGTHONG UNITED (THA)||2||1||1||0||2||1||1||4|
|KASHIMA ANTLERS (JPN) *||2||1||0||1||3||2||1||3|
|ULSAN HYUNDAI FC (KOR) *||2||1||0||1||6||2||4||3|
|BRISBANE ROAR (AUS)||2||0||1||1||0||6||-6||1|
Ulsan v Muangthong United (Tuesday 19:30)
Ulsan come into the match on the back of a resounding hammering of Brisbane Roar in the last round, a 6-0 hammering to be precise. That was one of those matches where everything just seems to click and that coupled with some suicidal defending meant it was an easy night for the Koreans. They unfortunately got a taste of their own medicine at the weekend as Jeju sent them packing with a 3-0 victory on the island. Muangthong followed up their draw in Australia with a hard-fought 2-1 home victory a 95th minute strike from Xisco sending the home players and fans into a frenzy. They look a tough team to beat and Ulsan can’t have it as easy again as when Roar came to town.
Prediction : Home Win : Ulsan 1 – Muangthong 0
|GUANGZHOU EVERGRANDE FC (CHN)||2||1||1||0||9||2||7||4|
|SUWON BLUEWINGS (KOR)||2||0||2||0||3||3||0||2|
|KAWASAKI FRONTALE (JPN)||2||0||2||0||2||2||0||2|
|EASTERN FC (HK)||2||0||1||1||1||8||-7||1|
Eastern FC v Suwon Bluewings (Tuesday 20:00)
Suwon Bluewings seem to have started the K-League and indeed the ACL exactly like they did in 2016, looking unable to hold on to victory and see a match out. They were leading against both Seoul and Evergrande this season before throwing both matches away and having to settle for a share of the points. On Sunday they were outplayed at home by Jeonbuk and lost 2-0 and are already making fools of pre-season tips for the title. They seem to rely heavily on Jonathon and he has been misfiring so far, although he did score their second against Evergrande in Round 2. You would on paper think that this match should be one that they should sail through with relative ease but then it’s the Bluewings and easy doesn’t seem to come naturally for them. Eastern bounced back from their 7-0 humbling in China in Round 1 to record their first goal and points in the ACL, a Bleda penalty, it will be interesting to see if they can put another heroic show tonight.
Prediction : Away Win : Eastern 0 – Bluewings 2
|URAWA RED DIAMONDS (JPN)||2||2||0||0||9||2||7||6|
|SUHANGHAI SIPG (CHN)||2||2||0||0||6||1||5||6|
|FC SEOUL (KOR)||2||0||0||2||2||6||-4||0|
|WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS||2||0||0||2||1||9||-8||0|
FC Seoul v Western Sydney Wanderers (Wednesday 19:30)
In a match that could almost be billed as a damp squib even this early in the tournament we see Seoul welcome WSW to home in what can only be a ‘must-win’ match for both teams after their woeful starts. Seoul were swept aside easily in the first half in Japan against a rampant Urawa team who scored four goals in the first 21 minutes in their Round 2 encounter. Seoul looked devoid of ideas in that match although it was the performance or rather a lack of one from Yoo Hyun in goals which made all the headlines. He looked like both a rabbit caught in headlights and a cat being thrown a ball (thanks Paul Neat for that last comment) as he flapped at and jumped over every ball that came his way. It truly was a night to forget for Seoul’s number 1. Seoul do come into the match unbeaten after two games in the K-League and that might just give them the belief this week. If Seoul’s defeat in Japan was bad WSW’s home thrashing by SIPG was horrendous. Out-thought, out-fought and out-played for the whole game they struggled to resemble a team that was lifting this trophy only a few years back. It’s been a poor start for both teams but WSW do have the added boost that Seoul have never beaten them home or away, that might just play on the host’s minds.
Prediction : Home Win : Seoul 2 – WSW 1
|JEJU UNITED (KOR)||2||1||0||1||4||2||2||3|
|ADELAIDE UNITED (AUS)||2||0||0||2||1||5||-4||0|
Adelaide United v Jeju United (Wednesday 19:30)
The final match of the round sees high-flying Jeju make the trip to Adelaide in another K-League v A-League clash. Jeju have surprised many this year with their performances both home and abroad, they were incredibly unlucky to lose the opening match against Jiangsu but more than made up for it by putting four past Gamba in Osaka. In the K-League they have won their opening two matches including a 3-0 victory over Ulsan. They are team playing with confidence right now and look like they can score every match, with goals coming from practically every area of the pitch. Adelaide are quite the mirror image of Jeju, falling first 3-0 at home to Gamba before losing 2-1 away in China. They got a lifeline with that unexpected Jeju victory in Japan but will need to be at their best to get one over Jeju in this match. You would imagine the visitors would settle for a draw with the idea of winning their remaining home ties.
Prediction : Away Win : Adelaide 1 – Jeju 2