Saitama: It will be a clash of two-time Continental champions when Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds host Guangzhou Evergrande of China PR on Wednesday at Saitama Stadium 2002.
The pair of East Asian heavyweights have accounted for three of the last six AFC Champions League winners with Guangzhou lifting the coveted trophy in 2013 and 2015, while Urawa added the 2017 title to their 2007 Asian championship.
However only one can go on to November's final, and a chance to make history with a record third AFC Champions League title.
Saitama: Fabio Cannavaro has urged his Guangzhou Evergrande side to maintain the level of performances that have seen them secure their berth in the semi-finals of the 2019 AFC Champions League, despite concerns over his team’s recent lack of goals.
Guangzhou take on Urawa Red Diamonds at Saitama Stadium 2002 on Wednesday in the first leg of their last four clash with Cannavaro’s side in the midst of a minor slump as the two-time champions go into the meeting without a win in their last five games in all competitions.
Saitama: Tsuyoshi Otsuki will send his Urawa Red Diamonds team out to play the long game as the two-time champions take on Chinese Super League leaders Guangzhou Evergrande in the first leg of the clubs’ 2019 AFC Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.
Having seen his side overturn a 2-1 first leg deficit in the second leg of their Round of 16 meeting with Ulsan Hyundai in Korea Republic in June, Otsuki is focusing on the aggregate result rather than the outcome of the game at Saitama Stadium 2002.
Saitama: Paulinho has claimed that his year-long spell with FC Barcelona helped turn him into a better player, as the Brazilian midfielder prepares to spearhead Guangzhou Evergrande’s quest for an unprecedented third AFC Champions League title.
Following a disappointing period at Tottenham Hotspur, the 31-year-old resurrected his career during his first stint with Guangzhou, when he won the 2015 AFC Champions League, two Chinese Super League titles and earned a recall to the Brazilian national team.
Barcelona came calling and, during a year in Spain, Paulinho won the La Liga–Copa del Rey double before returning to Guangzhou after reaching the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 with La Seleção.
Saitama: Cool-headed diligence will be the order of the day if Urawa Red Diamonds are to see off fellow two-time winners Guangzhou Evergrande in the semi-finals of the 2019 AFC Champions League, believes Urawa midfielder Kazuki Nagasawa.
The teams face off in the first leg of their last four encounter at Saitama Stadium 2002 on Wednesday, with the Japanese side hoping to cast aside a poor run of domestic form to take an advantage into the return meeting in China PR later this month.
Kuala Lumpur: After 10 rounds of fixtures, the 2019 AFC Champions League semi-finals are upon us, with four Asian giants to continue their quests for Continental glory in the first legs on Tuesday and Wednesday.
First up, the 2011 winners Al Sadd of Qatar take on Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal, followed by a pair of two-time champions in Urawa Red Diamonds and Guangzhou Evergrande meeting a day later. Ahead of the eagerly awaited clashes, here’s the-AFC.com’s five things to look out for.