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Matchday Six: East Zone Preview


Sunday, May 19, 2019
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Kuala Lumpur: After three enthralling months of football, the 2019 AFC Champions League Group Stage reaches it's climax this week as Matchday Six decides the final line-up for the Round of 16.


Four places have already been decided as Shandong Luneng, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Ulsan Hyundai and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors all secured a spot in the knockout stages a fortnight ago.

But four tickets to the last 16 still remain up for grabs for the teams from the East Zone, with some exciting encounters set for Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Group G

All eyes in Group G will be on the winner-take-all contest between Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds and Beijing FC of China PR. With Jeonbuk already confirmed of their place in the knockout stage as the first-placed side in the standings, Urawa and Beijing will battle it out for second spot.

Level on points, and with their previous meeting in the Chinese capital resulting in a goalless stalemate, the return clash at Saitama Stadium could not be more tightly poised.

The Group G winners, meanwhile, will face already-eliminated Buriram United of Thailand and will want to keep their momentum going ahead of the Round of 16.

Buriram did, though, pick up their only victory from the Group Stage against their Tuesday opponents and are looking to ensure it's a repeat disappointment for their Korean hosts.

 

Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN) vs Beijing FC (CHN)
Venue: Saitama Stadium 2002, Saitama
Kick-off: May 21, 19:00 UTC+9

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR) vs Buriram United (THA)
Venue: Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Jeonju
Kick-off: May 21, 19:00 UTC+9


Group H

Similarly in Group H, the main focus will be on teams from China PR and Japan. Shanghai SIPG host Group H winners Ulsan Hyundai of Korea Republic knowing that victory will ensure their place in the Round of 16, whatever happens to Japan's Kawasaki Frontale in Australia.

Shanghai SIPG's only defeat of the group came in their Matchday Two meeting with Tuesday's opponents, but they have been unbeaten since - albeit all three games were drawn.

Third-placed Kawasaki, meawhile, know that only a win will do at already-eliminated Sydney FC and will be hoping that Shanghai SIPG drop points at home to Ulsan.

The A-League side have endured a difficult 2019 AFC Champions League campaign and are yet to register a win. Their two defeats only came by one-goal margins, however, one of which was in Kawasaki so the Sky Blues have the chance for both revenge and a winning sign-off.

 

Sydney FC (AUS) vs Kawasaki Frontale (JPN)
Venue: Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: May 21, 20:00 UTC+10

Shanghai SIPG (CHN) vs Ulsan Hyundai (KOR)
Venue: Shanghai Stadium, Shanghai
Kick-off: May 21, 18:00 UTC+8


Group E

With three teams still in the running for second place, Group E is perhaps the most intriguing on Matchday Six. Kashima Antlers of Japan, Korea Republic's Gyeongnam FC and Malaysian club Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) are all still in the hunt for a last 16 spot.

JDT's stunning 1-0 victory at home to defending champions Kashima two weeks ago maintained their hopes of progressing and, should Kashima lose to Group E winners Shandong, three points away in Gyeongnam would be enough to take the AFC Champions League debutants into the Round of 16.

Despite the setback in Johor Bahru on Matchday Five, Kashima's knockout stage destiny is still in their hands. A draw would be enough to edge out both JDT and Gyeongnam. Lose to Shandong, however, and the holders may be eliminated at the Group Stage.

Like JDT, Gyeongnam will need to win on Matchday Six and hope Kashima slip up at home for their Round of 16 dream to become a reality. The first meeting between the two sides resulted in a 1-1 draw, but both will be looking for more than that when Wednesday comes.

 

Gyeongnam FC (KOR) vs Johor Darul Ta’zim (MAS)
Venue: Changwon Football Center, Changwon
Kick-off: May 22, 19:00 UTC+9

Kashima Antlers (JPN) vs Shandong Luneng (CHN)
Venue: Kashima Soccer Stadium, Kashima
Kick-off: May 22, 19:00 UTC+9


Group F

In what could be one the shocks of recent times in the AFC Champions League, debutants Daegu FC could be on the verge of eliminating two-time champions Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday. If, and it's a big if, they can avoid defeat to the southern Chinese powerhouse on their own turf.

Two points clear of Guangzhou, the Korean side defeated Fabio Cannavaro's men 3-1 in their Matchday Two meeting and will be looking to continue their impressive maiden campaign into the Round of 16.

In contrast, Australia's Melbourne Victory have endured a disappointing campaign, becoming the first side to have their elimination confirmed after Matchday Four concluded.

The A-League club also suffered a stunning 6-1 defeat to rivals Sydney FC last weekend, so will be hoping for some cheer from the visit of Group F winners Sanfrecce Hiroshima as they bid farewell to the 2019 edition of the AFC Champions League.

 

Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN) vs Daegu FC (KOR)
Venue: Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou
Kick-off: May 22, 18:00 UTC+8

Melbourne Victory (AUS) vs Sanfrecce Hiroshima (JPN)
Venue: Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne
Kick-off: May 22, 20:00 UTC+10

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