It’s time for the final group stage games, starting later today and finishing tomorrow, and there’s only one team who doesn’t know their fate yet and that is Guangzhou Evergrande. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then why not go back and read last week’s excellent review?
All caught up? Good. Let’s delve straight into the final four matches then.
Tianjin Quanjian vs Kashiwa Reysol
Tianjin made it through with the win over Kitchee last time out and will now play Kashiwa from Japan at home in Tianjin and they need to win to be in with a chance of taking top spot away from Jeonbuk. Jeonbuk on their hand will play Kitchee who will want to win despite being out to avoid ending bottom of the group.
Can Tianjin get that top spot? They kick off at 12:00 UK time tomorrow.
Shanghai SIPG vs Melbourne Victory
Like Tianjin, Shanghai SIPG are also through to the knockout stages with games to go, but unlike Tianjin they have already secured top spot with a three-point gap to Ulsan in second and a better head-to-head record against their Korean counterpart. In the final game, SIPG are playing Australians Melbourne Victory. SIPG won the first match between the two quite easily, running out 4-1 winners after an Oscar brace. Ulsan are playing bottom of the group Kawasaki but as mentioned they can’t go past Shanghai no matter the results.
Shanghai kick off their match away in Australia tomorrow at 11:00 UK time.
Guangzhou Evergrande vs Cerezo Osaka
After an injury-time equaliser from Buriram in the last match saw Evergrande fail to guarantee a spot in the next round this round should nevertheless be a formality. Evergrande play Cerezo Osaka in the battle for top spot but if they lose it could be a little more hairy for the former Champions League winners. If Buriram win and Guangzhou lose it will come down to goal difference to decide who will go through as both games between the two ended in draws. Evergrande have the upper hand with a +4 goal difference to Buriram’s 0, but if they let in one against Osaka and news of a Buriram lead come through, things could escalate quickly. However, in the first meeting, Buriram lost 2-0 at home to Jeju, so a win is far from guaranteed for the Thai outfit.
The all-important game kicks off in Guangzhou at 12:00 UK time later today.
Shanghai Shenhua vs Sydney
Despite only being three points behind second placed Suwon, Shanghai will have nothing to play for in this final game as last week’s collapse against Kashima cost them the hope of advancement after they had gotten the helping hand they needed from Sydney. Shenhua’s worse head-to-head record against Suwon is what has ultimately cost them the dream of advancing on the final day. However there is still something to play for, other than pride, there is the chance of ruining Sydney’s hope of advancing and also leapfrogging the Australians in the standings to avoid ending bottom of the group.
Shanghai’s attempt at saving face in Sydney starts later today, at 12:00 UK time.