The last round of the Asian Champions League must go down in the record books as one of the highest scoring rounds as there seemed to be goals flying in from everywhere. In Jeonju we had a 6-3, Shanghai a 2-2 and then that incredible ‘game of two halves’ in Guangzhou as Jeju threw away a 2-0 half-time lead to lose 5-3….yes 5-3!
The next round is almost upon us and it’s a huge one for the Korean teams involved. First up we have……
Tuesday March 13th 2018
Ulsan Hyundai vs Shanghai SIPG
Ulsan have had a bit of a nightmare start domestically to 2018 as they started the season with a 2-0 loss to Champions Jeonbuk then lost again at the weekend, this time at home to Sangju. They have been doing better in the ACL though and after a great result in Melbourne in their opening group game they defeated Kawasaki before drawing last week in Shanghai. That leaves them on 5pts and sitting in second place in the table safe in the knowledge that a victory at home this week would leave them in pole position to clinch the runners-up spot. Last time out they took the lead twice against their hosts, although both leads lasted only a mere 60 seconds which is worryingly becoming a pattern for the Horang-i. They have never lost at home to Chinese opposition and in fact have lost only five times in twenty-one home ACL matches. With Shanghai all but through to the knockout stages you have to wonder if that record is really in danger this week.
Prediction : Score Draw : Ulsan 1 Shanghai 1
Shanghai Shenhua vs Suwon Bluewings
Suwon Bluewings have also had a less than stable start to their 2018 campaign, they lost at home to Jeonnam in the league and also to Kashima Antlers in the ACL before throwing away a 1-0 lead to Shanghia Shenhua at home last week also. They did however get their K-League challenge back on track with a 2-0 victory down in Daegu although according to some reports online they were less than stellar in that match too. Dejan was benched for the match in Daegu with Seo perhaps keeping him fresh for the trip to China, with both Waguininho and Lim Sang Hyub finding the back of the net it might just give the coach a headache as to who to start up front. Shenhua lost the Shanghai derby at home last weekend and are also looking like a team that is desperately in need of a confidence boost. With Kashima Antlers winning away in Australia this match is now huge for both teams and neither can really afford to lose, Bluewings have actually only lost twice away from home on ACL duty since 2011….although both of those were in China.
Prediction : Score Draw : Shanghai 1 Bluewings 1