Preview - Round of 16: Kashima Antlers (JPN) v Sanfrecce Hiroshima (JPN)
Ibaraki: For the first time since 2011, there will be an all-Japan tie in the AFC Champions League Round of 16 when title holders Kashima Antlers host countrymen Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the first leg on Tuesday.
The form team in the 2019 AFC Champions League visits the holders at Kashima Soccer Stadium in what is sure to be a fascinating clash of countrymen.
Sanfrecce arrive in Ibaraki Prefecture on the back of five consecutive AFC Champions League victories, their best run of results in the Continental competition.
This will be only their second appearance in the knockout stages, having lost to eventual winners Western Sydney Wanderers in the 2014 edition.
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For defending champions Kashima, this is their seventh appearance in the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League – a record amongst Japanese teams.
It hasn't been an easy passage, however, with the holders needing a come-from-behind win over Shandong Luneng on Matchday Six to secure their place in the Round of 16. Neverthless, Kashima, who will be without the suspended Hiroki Mizumoto, are undefeated in the last six knockout games in the AFC Champions League (four wins, two draws).
Ahead of Tuesday's tie, both sides enjoyed 2-0 wins in the J.League last Friday as Sanfrecce defeated Shonan Bellmare while Kashima came out on top over Cerezo Osaka.
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