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ACL Round of 16 Preview [First Leg]

ACL Round of 16 Preview

Both K League 1 title chasers Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Ulsan Hyundai finished top of their groups, progressing to the knockout rounds of the AFC Champions League and setting themselves up against difficult opposition this Wednesday evening. Jeonbuk travel to China to face Chinese Super League Champions Shanghai SIPG whereas Ulsan face head to Japan to face 2017 ACL champions Urawa Red Diamonds. We take a look at what to expect from each encounter.

#URAvULS: Urawa Red Diamonds vs Ulsan Hyundai - 19:30 KST

Ulsan Hyundai's impressive ACL campaign may have ended on a slightly sour note given that they lost 5-0 to Shanghai SIPG, although it was a highly rotated eleven as the club had already guaranteed first place in their group. Prior to that, the Horangi had been performing well, conceding just two in their five other games and going unbeaten in the process. They also come into this match on the back of some stellar domestic form, seeing off bitter rivals Pohang Steelers at the weekend to the tune of one goal to nil. In terms of who to be wary of, American international midfielder Mix Diskerud has been a revelation since joining the side last summer. Whilst talks of him extending his loan spell beyond this summer appear ongoing, the player has been putting in some stellar performances on the pitch and his quality could prove the difference on Wednesday evening.

Highlights of Ulsan Hyundai's 1-0 win over Pohang Steelers can be viewed here.

2017 AFC Champions League winners Urawa Red Diamonds returned to the competition this year after not qualifying for the 2018 edition, thus missing out on an opportunity to defend their title. The team made it to the knockout stages after finishing second in Group G, picking up three wins and a draw, including a crucial victory against Bejing Guoan in the final round to ensure their progression. Having already lost twice to Korean opposition in Jeonbuk this year, however, they will look to right this wrong in Saitama on Wednesday. The J.League side's performance in this year's ACL was not enough to save manager Oswaldo de Oliveira, whose underwhelming domestic record this year saw him part ways with the club a few weeks ago. New incumbent (and former interim manager prior to Oliveria) Tsuyoshi Otsuki was installed at the end of May and picked up his first victory last weekend with a 2-1 win over Sagan Tosu.

Urawa Reds will certainly be looking for a positive result at home on Wednesday given their woes on the road in this competition. Home legs have proven crucial to Urawa Reds in recent years, with the side having not won an away leg in the knockout phases of this competition since they first won it back in 2007. However, their record at home domestically has been underwhelming this season, winning just twice in eight.

Highlights of Urawa Red Diamonds 2-1 Sagan Tosu can be viewed here.

#SHAvJEO: Shanghai SIPG vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors - 21:00 KST

AFC Champions League Round of 16 Preview

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors make the trip to Shanghai this week as they look to take on SIPG, a side they last met in the 2016 quarterfinals of this competition. On that occasion, Jeonbuk ran out 5-0 aggregate winners, although it did admittedly take three halves of football for them to finally break the deadlock. There have been some changes to the K League champions since then, most notably the first-choice defence who have yet to be tested by the attacking might of SIPG's Hulk, Oscar and Elkeson. Jeonbuk striker Kim Shin-wook may be given the chance to shine on Wednesday night, though it remains to be seen whether that will be from the start or the bench. The towering talisman has been in sensational form for the champions of late, adding to his encouraging goal tally at the weekend to put Incheon United to the sword. Given the Shanghai's below average success rate in winning aerial duals, Kim could be the key to causing some havoc in the host's penalty area, whether that be through a goal, an assist or his very presence.

Highlights of Incheon United 0-1 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors can be found here.

Reigning CSL champions Shanghai SIPG were subjected to a rare defeat last Friday, losing 2-0 to Asian powerhouses and last season's CSL runners-up Guangzhou Evergrande. The loss saw the Shanghai outfit slip to third in the division, below Evergrande and further behind leaders Beijing Guoan. Prior to this, SIPG had been on an eight-match unbeaten run in the division, winning seven. In Asia, SIPG progressed in second-place with two victories and three draws, losing just once when away to Ulsan Hyundai. The player Jeonbuk should be most wary of is Oscar. The former Chelsea man has been in solid form in the ACL this season, picking up three goals and offering a solid crossing threat from the left flank. It will undoubtedly be up to the likes of Lee Yong and the speed of Moon Seon-min to keep tabs on the talented midfielder.

Highlights of Shanghai SIPG 0-2 Guangzhou Evergrande can be found here.

[READ: The full match preview with Shanghai SIPG expert Jeff Beresford-Howe and our own Matthew Binns can be found on Wild East Football here.]

The K League United Podcast

Our site editors Ryan Walters, Matthew Binns and Paul Neat sat down to discuss this week’s upcoming ACL clashes in a bumper edition of the K League United Podcast. They were also joined by our Ulsan columnist Dan Croydon who interviewed professional coach and Urawa Reds aficionado Ryan Steele, as well as Wild East Football editor-in-chief Brandon Chemers who spoke with Matthew Binns to tell us what to expect from Shanghai SIPG.

If you would like to download this episode, you can find The K League United Podcast on a number of platforms linked below. You can also catch the show every Thursday on Football Nation Radio.

iTunes | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Libsyn | TuneIn Radio

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