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Preview: AFC Champions League Matchday 2

AFC Champions League Matchday 2 Preview - K League sides

After an entertaining round of fixtures last week, the next wave of AFC Champions League games is upon us, with Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Ulsan Hyundai returning from Australia to play at home, whilst Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Jeju United head out to Hong Kong and Thailand respectively. Can the Bluewings and Jeonbuk continue on from their winning starts? Can Ulsan find their defence? And will Jeju be able to get their campaign back on track after a disappointing opening defeat? All this and more in your guide to Matchday 2 of the Asian Champions League.
(Photo via uhfc.tv)

The group stages of the AFC Champions League are fully underway and K League teams, for the most part, fared rather well. There were victories for both Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors against Sydney FC and Kashiwa Reysol respectively, and a highly entertaining three-all draw for Ulsan Hyundai as they traveled down under to face Melbourne Victory. The only real note of disappointment took place on the island of Jeju, where Jeju United suffered a 1-0 defeat in dying minutes to J.League outfit Cerezo Osaka.

Seven days later though, and all four K League teams are at it once more. Tuesday evening sees Jeonbuk travel to Hong Kong to face league champions Kitchee, whereas Ulsan play host to J.League title holders Kawasaki Frontale. Then, on the Wednesday, Jeju United travel to Thailand to face Buriram United, whilst back in Suwon, the Bluewings await the visit of Japanese side Kashima Antlers.

A full run down of all the K League clubs' group stage fixtures can be found here: Guide to the ACL Group Stages.

Tuesday 20th February

Ulsan Hyundai vs Kawasaki Frontale (JPN) 19:00 (Group F)

Having led and subsequently lost their lead three times in Melbourne, Ulsan Hyundai will be hoping their defensive frailty will not undermine their new found attacking prowess once more. The Korean side will have been disappointed to share the spoils but can at least take heart in that Korean sides usually do not fair well on Australian soil, and that it was their first competitive match of the year. Kawasaki come into this game on the back of a home defeat to Shanghai SIPG however and will be itching to get back on course within the competition. The reigning J.League champions are expected to do well in the competition this year, especially after reaching the quarter finals last year before being knocked out by eventual champions Urawa Red Diamonds. The two sides last met each other in 2014, with this fixture ending 2-0 to the home side.

You can read the full match preview between our columnist Daniel Croydon and Frontale Rabbit Blog here.

Kitchee SC (HKG) vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 21:00 (Group E)

After a thrilling comeback from two goals down to win the match against Kashiwa Reysol, Lee Dong-gook and co. travel to Hong Kong to face local champions Kitchee SC. Last time out, the Hong Kong side fell to Chinese Super League outfit Tianjin Quanjian 3-0, only their second defeat in over a year across all competitions. This is the first time Jeonbuk will play a competitive match in Hong Kong, with the only other Korean side being Suwon Bluewings last year against Eastern. The home side will be hoping to outdo their league rivals by claiming a shock scalp against the K League champions on Tuesday evening.

Our Jeonbuk columnist Matthew Binns sat down with Offside.HK Editor-in-Chief Tobias Zuser to preview this match in full here.

Wednesday 21st February

Suwon Bluewings vs Kashima Antlers (JPN) 19:00 (Group H)

After perhaps the most convincing performance for a K League side in the previous round of fixtures, a strong looking Suwon Bluewings side will welcome difficult J.League opposition in the form of Kashima Antlers. Suwon FC made easy work of the Australian champions last week, running out 2-0 victors and preventing the home side from achieving a single shot on target. Last time out Antlers drew with Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua in a game in which they appeared to dominate on paper, but were unable to make the complete comeback from going a goal down early on. The two sides have actually met in this competition four times before, twice in 2009 and 2011, each earning a home win and two draws.

Our Scott Whitelock previews the match alongside J.League writer and expert Stuart Smith here

Buriram United (THA) vs Jeju United (Group G)

After conceding in the dying minutes, Jeju United sit bottom of the group after the first round of fixtures. In their second fixture, they face a trip to Thailand to face domestic champions Buriram United. Jeju will be desperate to get their group campaign back on track before they face Guangzhou Evergrande in March, but would be wise not to underestimate the Thai side who held the Chinese Super League champions to a 1-1 draw on Chinese soil last week. Neither side has faced each other before, but Buriram's record against K League opposition does not make pleasant reading, winning just once in ten meetings throughout their history in this competition.

Our Jeju columnist Branko Belan previews the game in full here.

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