Kuala Lumpur: The hotly anticipated 2020 AFC Champions League group stage kicks off in the East Zone with four exciting matches set to open the action on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Spanish legend Andres Iniesta will be among the main draws when he takes to the field with Vissel Kobe against Johor Darul T'azim, while the ties in Groups E to H also feature two former champions and a debutant in what promises to be an exciting round of fixtures.
Kuala Lumpur: The 18th edition of the AFC Champions League gets underway on Monday with holders Al Hilal SFC among the teams in action on the opening day of what promises to be another magnificent journey through to November’s final.
As ever, their will be plenty of new faces on display, with a FIFA World Cup winner, an Iranian debutant and a long-awaited return among the-AFC.com’s five things to look out for on Matchday One.
Vissel realistic about 'unknown' campaign, says Vermaelen
Saitama: Thomas Vermaelen has insisted Vissel Kobe will kick off their first-ever AFC Champions League campaign on Wednesday with no expectations on how far they can advance despite the club’s status as one of the biggest spending teams in Japanese football.
Kobe face Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta’zim at Kobe Wing Stadium in the club’s first-ever appearance in the competition after Vissel won the Emperor’s Cup last year to qualify for the continental championship.
With former Barcelona stars such as Vermaelen and Andres Iniesta among their expensively assembled ranks, expectations on Kobe to make a significant impact on the tournament are high.
Kuala Lumpur: Seventy-eight days after Al Hilal SFC defeated Urawa Red Diamonds in Saitama to lift the 2019 AFC Champions League trophy, the latest edition of the competition gets underway with four clashes across Groups A and B on Monday.
The reigning champions are in action in Dubai, while one debutant will make their AFC Champions League group stage bow on the same day as things kick-off in full speed in the West Zone.
Postecoglou confident Marinos will be ready for Jeonbuk
Saitama: Ange Postecoglou will lead J.League champions Yokohama F Marinos into their 2020 AFC Champions League campaign this week in Korea Republic hoping his team have rid themselves of their pre-season lethargy.
Marinos make their return to the continental championship for the first time since 2014 when they face two-time champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in Group H, which also features Sydney FC and Shanghai SIPG, on Wednesday.
They do so off the back of a penalty shootout loss in the Japan Super Cup on Saturday against fellow AFC Champions League participants Vissel Kobe after the pair shared a 3-3 draw at Saitama Stadium.
Bill relishing debutants Chiangrai United's #ACL2020 challenge
Chiang Rai: Chiangrai United striker Bill admitted he cannot wait to get started ahead of the Thai champions maiden AFC Champions League tie against Australia's Melbourne Victory on Tuesday.
It may have taken him until his 35th year, but veteran striker Bill had arguably the most successful season of his career in 2019 when he fired Chiangrai United past the usual heavyweights in Thailand to the club's first league championship.
Top scoring for the side with 14 goals, the Brazilian and his teammates edged defending champions Buriram United by virtue of a superior head-to-head record and with it earned a debut appearance in the AFC Champions League. The significance of which Bill is only too aware.
Seoul: Spaniard Osmar Barba went from zero to hero on Tuesday for FC Seoul, scoring an own goal before firing home a free-kick to restore the club's two-goal cushion on the way to a 4-1 victory over Malaysia's Kedah FA and a place in the 2020 AFC Champions League group stage.
The 31-year-old spoke exclusively to the-AFC.com following the play-off tie at Seoul World Cup Stadium and he reflected on the match, the importance of playing in the AFC Champions League, his favourite memories from the competition so far, and his hopes for 2020.