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ACL Group Stage Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

2017 K League Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors return to AFC Champions League action next year, having been drawn in Group E

The 2016 Asian Champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors finally make their return to continental competition for the 2018 iteration of the AFC Champions League, having been drawn as top seeds into Group E.
(Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)

ICMYI: Ryan Walters and Paul Neat covered the draw live from the K League United studio way back in December.



Tuesday evening saw the final round of play offs come to an end, thereby finalising the group stages for this year's AFC Champions League, with K League champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors set to face Hong Kong Champions Kitchee and two play-off winners Tianjian Quanjian and Kashiwa Reysol in group E. Below is a brief preview for each side Jeonbuk are set to face as they look to progress to the knockout rounds of the tournament.

Group E


Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR)
Kitchee SC (HKG)
Tianjin Quanjian (CHN)
Kashiwa Reysol (JPN)

Fixtures


Tuesday 13th February 2018: Kashiwa Reysol (H)
Wednesday 20th February 2018: Kitchee SC (A)
Tuesday 6th March 2018: Tianjin Quanjian (H)
Wednesday 14th March 2018: Tianjin Quanjian (A)
Wednesday 4th April 2018: Kashiwa Reysol (A)
Wednesday 18th April 2018: Kitchee SC (H)

Kashiwa Reysol


Jeonbuk will begin their campaign against Japan's Kashiwa Reysol, a side that finished fourth in the J1 League last season and is the lowest of the four Japanese sides entered across this competition. The club's top scorer for last season, Brazilian attacker Cristiano, bagged 12 goals and claimed 10 assists in the league last season and will be one of the main threats to the Korean champions when they meet up in Jeonju on the evening of Tuesday 13th February.

Kashiwa Reysol made it to the group stage after defeating Thailand side Muangthong United in the playoff round. The match saw the J1 League outfit run out 3-0 winners, with goals from Cristiano (2) and Junya Ito ensuring their side's progression.




Kitchee SC


The first confirmed competitors in Group E were Hong Kong champions Kitchee SC, who will begin their Asian adventure from the group stage next year. Their previous appearance in this competition saw them lose out in the play-offs on penalties in a spirited performance against K League outfit Ulsan Hyundai in 2017 that left Ulsan supporters feeling very fortunate. In fact, at the time of writing, they have only lost one match across all competitions since that disappointing defeat and currently sit comfortably atop of their domestic league table. With form like this, they could very well prove to be a potential banana skin for opponents who dare to underestimate them. Kitchee will first face Jeonbuk when they host them on Wednesday 20th February.



Tianjin Quanjian


Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian entered the playoffs for this year's competition after finishing 3rd in the table last season. Leading the club's scoring charts for them in 2017 was former Milan, Villareal and Chelsea forward Alexandre Pato. The Brazilian scored 15 goals across 24 league appearances this season and his side will be hoping he can continue this against Korea's best. However, former Korean national teamer and Jeonbuk player Kwon Kyung-won is also a Tianjin Quanjian regular and will be under no illusion of the threat the K League champions boast when they first meet in Jeonju on Tuesday 6th March.

The Chinese side reached group E after defeating an exhausted Ceres-Negros FC in the playoff round on Tuesday evening. Tianjin Quanjian beat the Filipino champions to the tune of 2-0 with both goals coming from French attacker Anthony Modeste.



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