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Round of 16 - 2nd Leg: 5 Things To Look Out For


Kuala Lumpur: The stakes are raised in this week's AFC Champions League as the identity of the four quarter-finalists from the East will be decided in the Round of 16 second leg matches on Tuesday and Wednesday.

All four of the last 16 ties are tantilisingly poised - either level or with a team holding a slim one goal advantage - and promise some rollercoaster action to come. The-AFC.com has picked out five things to look out for ahead of the games.

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Can Sanfrecce create history by going against it?

Sanfrecce Hiroshima have never previously reached the AFC Champions League quarter-finals. The closest they came was in 2014 when they were eliminated at the Round of 16 on away goals to eventual champions Western Sydney Wanderers of Australia.

To do so this year, however, they must re-write a piece of history themeselves. Opponents Kashima Antlers are the defending champions and have never lost a knockout tie after winning the first leg in the AFC Champions League.

 

Round of 16: Kashima Antlers v Sanfrecce Hiroshima

The Ibaraki side have now gone seven knockout games without defeat in the competition – a club record. Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Sanfrecce are set for a huge test in Hiroshima.


Will Guangzhou end their troubles on the road?

This year's defeats to Daegu FC and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, and a draw with Melbourne Victory, added to Guangzhou Evergrande's poor away form on the Continent. In total, the two-time winners have now gone five consecutive away games without victory in the AFC Champions League (Drawn 3 Lost 2) – their worst ever such run in the competition.

Certainly not an auspicious statistic going into the tie at Shandong Luneng where the southern Chinese side have just a slim 2-1 advantage from the first meeting in Guangzhou. And Shandong are by no means easy opponents at home.

 

Round of 16: Guangzhou Evergrande FC v Shandong Luneng FC

The Jinan club need just one goal to go ahead on away goals and history shows they are more than capable of finding the net on home turf: Shandong have scored in 19 consecutive home games in the AFC Champions League – a record for a Chinese team in the competition.


A familiar scoreline

Former champions Ulsan Hyundai of Korea Republic have had an impressive 2019 campaign so far. A solid defensive foundation saw four cleansheets from six Group Stage matches, while the 2-1 victory last week at Urawa Red Diamonds' home fortress of Saitama Stadium has given them the edge ahead of Wednesday's return meeting.

Ulsan boast a 100% record at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium on the Continent this year, while Urawa Red Diamonds have only ever won one of their 10 away games in the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League, so history and the stats certainly favour the Koreans.

 

Round of 16 1st Leg: Urawa Red Diamonds v Ulsan Hyundai FC

One particular thing to note is that Ulsan have won all of their home matches at the 2019 AFC Champions League by a 1-0 scoreline. Should it happen a fourth consecutive time, that would be enough for Ulsan to reach the quarter-finals for their third appearance.


Oscar to inspire Shanghai SIPG once more?

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors' 5-0 win against Shanghai SIPG in the second leg of the 2016 AFC Champions League quarter-finals remains a match most associated with the Chinese Super League club would like to forget, but last week's draw in Shanghai between the two sides does set the scene for a potential repeat.

As in 2016, no winner emerged from the first meeting at Shanghai Stadium but the Chinese champions will be determined to write a new history at Jeonju World Cup Stadium. And one man could be the catalyst.

 

Round of 16 - 1st Leg: Shanghai SIPG FC v Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC

Having only joined the club ahead of the 2017 campaign, Brazilian playmaker Oscar missed out on the disappointing end to their AFC Champions League debut the season prior and has been in superlative form in this year's edition.

The former Chelsea FC star has created more chances than any other player in the 2019 AFC Champions League so far (27) and no player has created more goals than him in the tournament this year (4).


A champion line-up for the quarter-finals?

All four teams that hold advantages from the first leg - either by leading the aggregate score or via away goals - have won the AFC Champions League at least once, leaving the tournament with a possibility of all four sides from the East in the quarter-finals being former champions.

Kashima Antlers are the most recently crowned Asian kings as defending champions, while Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (2016 and 2006) and Guangzhou Evergrande (2015 and 2013) have both lifted the trophy on two occasions.

Of the five former winners, Ulsan Hyundai have waited the longest since their last Continental title having won the AFC Champions League in 2012.

Neither Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Shandong Luneng nor Shanghai SIPG have yet claimed Asian glory, although Urawa Red Diamonds, who trail Jeonbuk 2-1 from the first leg, were also two-time winners in 2017 and 2007.

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