Semi-Finals – Preview
Kuala Lumpur: The four remaining teams in the 2019 AFC Champions League will return to action in the coming days with the first legs of the semi-finals to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Two-time winners Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan and China PR's Guangzhou Evergrande are aiming to lift the coveted trophy for an unprecedented third time, while 2011 winners Al Sadd from Qatar and Saudi heavweights Al Hilal will be looking to return Asian football's club crown to the West for the first time in eight years.
See also :
Al Sadd v Al Hilal
The first of the semi-finals features the last side from the West to lift the trophy, Al Sadd, and visitors Al Hilal, winners of six Continental titles but yet to claim the AFC Champions League since the tournament revamp in 2002-03.
The two teams are familiar foes having faced each other eight times in the AFC Champions League since their first meeting at the 2010 edition. This stage of the competition is also familiar territory for the pair.
Al Sadd were semi-finalists in last year's edition, while Al Hilal have reached this phase four times in their last six campaigns.
In terms of history between the sides, Al Hilal have the edge on results with four wins to one, with three of their meetings drawn. The most recent meeting on May 6, 2015, resulted in a 2-1 win for the Saudi Pro League side.
The hosts will see victory at their ground, Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, as vital, as they are still yet to win away from home in this year's campaign. Hilal, meanwhile, have only lost once on the road. However, it was in the Qatari capital, the neutral venue for their Group Stage match against IR Iran's Esteghlal.
Al Sadd (QAT) vs Al Hilal (KSA)
Venue: Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: October 1, 18:30 UTC+3
Urawa Red Diamonds v Guangzhou Evergrande
In the quarter-finals, Urawa eliminated the Chinese champions Shanghai SIPG while AFC Champions League holders Kashima Antlers of Japan were beaten by Guangzhou Evergrande.
At the semi-final stage, one of the pair will replicate their efforts from the last eight and take a giant step towards becoming the first three-time winners of the AFC Champions League.
Urawa have the better record in past meetings with two wins from the four fixtures with Guangzhou winning just once, and the two sharing a draw.
However, Urawa will know it is vital to win on Wednesday at Saitama. Guangzhou are on a 21-match unbeaten run at their home fortress of Tianhe Stadium, and will be firm favourites should they return from Japan with any kind of advantage.
Brazilian-born players may play a decisive role in the tie with as many as six set to feature. Of those, Guangzhou's Anderson Talisca has scored five times in his six appearances on the Continent, while Urawa will welcome back defender Mauricio Antonio from suspension.
Urawa Red Diamonds vs Guangzhou Evergrande
Venue: Saitama Stadium 2002, Saitama
Kick-off: October 2, 19:30 UTC+9
Recommended Stories :