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ACL Preview: Yokohama F. Marinos vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings

Yokohama F. Marinos vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings

Suwon Samsung Bluewings will take on Yokohama F. Marinos in the Round of 16 of the AFC Champions League on Monday. Can Suwon upset the J.League heavyweights at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha? K League United's Shibajee Das previews the encounter.

Last Time Out

Sydney FC 1-1 Yokohama F. Marinos

Yokohama F. Marinos faced Sydney FC in their final group game, with qualification to the next round already assured. So, it was a chance for several of the team's key players to get a breather. Despite this, it was Yokohama who started the match on the front foot when Yuki Saneto's thunderous volley was tipped over the top by Tom Heward-Belle. Just a couple of seconds later, Saneto hit another volley past the despairing dive of Heward-Belle to give Yokohama the lead in the 18th minute.

Sydney was not shy to go forward and they were rewarded when a perfectly played through ball enabled Trent Buhagiar to have a clear sight of goal, and he confidently slotted past the keeper in the 29th minute. The second half witnessed very few clear cut chances and Jun Amano's curler was the closest either side came to grabbing the lead. It finished one apiece in the end, with the Marinos claiming 13 points from their six group games to comfortably cruise through to the knockout round.  

Vissel Kobe 0-2 Suwon Samsung Bluewings

Suwon came into this match knowing that they had to win by at least two clear goals in order to leapfrog group rivals Guangzhou Evergrande. It was Vissel Kobe who had the first notable attempt at goal when Noriaki Fujimoto's header was turned past the post by Yang Hyung-mo. Kobe had already qualified for the next round as group winners, so they had the luxury to bring off Andres Iniesta and Thomas Vermaelen at half-time.

The Bluewings looked more determined in the second half, and they broke in the deadlock in the 49th minute. Substitute Kim Kun-hee rose highest to head a corner past the stranded Daiya Maekawa in the Kobe goal. Lim Sang-hyub then somehow failed to turn the ball into an unguarded net, when it looked easier to score than miss. However, Lim made up for the miss when Suwon was awarded a spot-kick after a handball in the area in the 68th minute. This time the 32-year-old forward made no mistake as Suwon doubled their advantage on the night, and held on comfortably for the rest of the match to make it through to the Round of 16 based on a superior goal difference to Guangzhou.

Previous Meetings

The only previous meeting between the two sides took place in an A3 Champions Cup fixture in 2005. Suwon registered a 3-1 victory on that occasion at the Jeju World Cup Stadium. 

Team News

Yokohama F. Marinos

Brazilian centre-back Thiago Martins has been a rock at the back for the Marinos

Due to qualification to the knockout rounds already assured, several key men were rested for their match against Sydney FC. Manager Ange Postecoglou decided to change his entire starting lineup from their win over Jeonbuk. This was done with a view to avoiding any potential injuries in the dead rubber versus Sydney.

The team is expected to line up in their favoured 4-2-3-1 setup. Promising youngster Powell Obinna Obi will return between the sticks. Thiago Martins is expected to partner Shinnosuke Hatanaka at centre back, with Ken Matsubara and Thai star Theerathon Bunmathan in the full-back positions. Takuya Kida and Takahiro Ogihara could return in midfield. Further forward, Teruhito Nakagawa and Ryo Takano could get the nod in the wide positions whereas, Brazilian duo Marcos Junior and Erik are capable of producing significant attacking threat to the opposition.  

Suwon Samsung Bluewings

Kim Tae-hwan has been impressive for the Bluewings in Qatar

Park Kun-ha seems to have found his strongest eleven and could start with an unchanged lineup. Due to the absence of their foreign players in Doha, it is up to the older heads to lead from the front. Lim Sang-hyub is the team's top scorer in the tournament with two goals.

The team will again look to Lim, Ko Seung-beom and Kim Min-woo to deliver the goods. Jang Ho-ik and Min Sang-gi will be expected to keep things tight at the back. The Bluewings' most lively performer in Qatar has been 20-year-old Kim Tae-hwan, with his energy and driving runs from the flanks set to be a crucial attacking element in this match.  

The Adversary

The 2019 J.League champions have had a disappointing domestic campaign this term. They currently sit ninth in the league table, having picked up 47 points from 33 matches. However, the Marinos have delivered on the continental stage. They picked up 13 points from their six group matches, beating fellow K League side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in both their group stage clashes.

Yokohama players celebrate after scoring a goal

Goalkeeper Powell Obinna Obi has returned to the club after being on loan in the Japanese second division. Obi has caught the eye in Qatar, notably denying Oscar from 12 yards in their group match against Shanghai SIPG. 

Erik and Junior Santos have been their leading scorers in the league this season, with 13 goals each. Another Brazilian Marcos Junior has struck 11 times in the league. Ange Postecoglou's men are looking to salvage a disappointing domestic season, by delivering some memorable continental performances. There's plenty of attacking threat plus squad depth in this side, and the Marinos might feel that this might be their year to go all the way.

What To Watch

Can Park Kun-ha mastermind yet another shock victory?

It must be said that Park Kun-ha's plans have been spot on so far in Qatar. Suwon drew both their meetings against Guangzhou Evergrande, before targeting a win against already qualified Vissel Kobe. It could have been a risky approach, but Park Kun-ha certainly played his cards to perfection. Crossing the group stage hurdle has earned the manager plenty of plaudits back home.

The team certainly looks promising with a good mix of youth and experience. It must be noted that the Bluewings have travelled to Qatar without any of their foreign recruits. This makes the achievement sound even sweeter. Are Park Kun-ha's boys finished here, or will they spring a huge upset come Monday night?  


Yokohama F. Marinos are clear favourites for this match. However, having beaten Vissel Kobe in their previous match, Suwon will be high on confidence. The Marinos will be tipped to win comfortably, especially with their big boys being back for this clash. But it is easier said than done and Suwon will be looking to make it as tough as possible for Ange Postecoglou's boys. Despite Yokohama's superiority, Suwon knows that it will be a one-off knockout game and shocks do happen in such matches.

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