Quartet out to steal a march
© AFP

The four remaining teams will share one goal when the AFC Champions League semi-final, first legs take place on Wednesday: to put one foot in the decider. For Urawa Red Diamonds, that would keep their dream of becoming the second side to defend the title alive, although fellow Japanese outfit Gamba Osaka will be out to stop them. Meantime, Adelaide United will welcome Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor to Australia.

The big match
Adelaide United-Bunyodkor

Adelaide United matches are rarely sold out, but they are ensured a full house at the Hindmarsh Stadium when they play host to Bunyodkor. Fresh from eliminating Japanese giants Kashima Antlers and with home advantage, United will be confident of establishing a lead to take to Uzbekistan in a fortnight's time. These, however, are exciting times for Bunyodkor, and they are sure to be a steep hurdle for the Aussies to overcome. Indeed, Zico's team can count on Brazilian superstar Rivaldo, who scored twice en route to victory over Saipa in the last eight and will be determined to lift the Champions League trophy in another continent after collecting a winner's medal with AC Milan in 2003.

Adelaide's defence has proved one of the tightest in the competition, having conceded just three goals in eight matches so far. They did, however, relinquish a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 with Central Coast Mariners in the A-League on Friday. Aurelio Vidmar's team will be without suspended defender Sasa Ognenovski and the injured Kristian Sarkies, though, and have five players just one booking away from missing the secong leg.

The other game
Gamba Osaka-Urawa Red

Urawa Red Diamonds' all-conquering 2007 campaign included three victories, one draw and no defeats against Gamba Osaka. However, Gamba took revenge in last year's Japanese Super Cup, running out comprehensive 4-0 winners, before beating the Reds 3-2 in the J.League earlier this year. This result provided coach Akira Nishino with confidence ahead of the home leg of their Champions League semi-final. "I believe a Japanese team should be able to win the tournament and I hope Gamba can reach the final," he said.

Players to watch
South American duo Jose Luis Villanueva and Rivaldo have been central to Bunyodkor's charge into the semi-finals, scoring five of their goals in a 7-2 aggregate defeat of Saipa. Home-grown midfielder Timur Kapadze has, nevertheless, also figured prominently, appearing in all his side's eight matches and scoring crucial goals, including winners against Iran's Sepahan and Syrian heavyweights Al Ittihad in the group stages.

The words
"The draw (against Central Coast Mariners) was the biggest kick in the backside you could get. If you can give that type of room to Central Coast, what do you think of Bunyodkor will do?" Adelaide United coach Aurelio Vidmar.


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