FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016

8 December - 18 December

FIFA Club World Cup 2016

Tricky challenges for former winners

© AFP

Former winners Al Ain and Jeonbuk Motors face tricky scenarios heading into the return legs of the 2016 AFC Champions League quarter-finals having been held to goalless draws by Lokomotiv Tashkent and Shanghai SIPG respectively. The K League champions face an uphill task at home knowing nothing less than victory can take them through to the last four. The United Arab Emirates giants, meanwhile, travel to Uzbekistan aware that they can advance on away goals should the game end in a score draw.

FC Seoul are well placed following their 3-1 first-leg win at Shandong Luneng. Meanwhile, Al Nasr, who won the first leg 3-0 away at El Jaish, have seen that opening tie forfeited after Nasr’s new signing Wanderley was found to be ineligible.

*The match *
*Jeonbuk Motors-Shanghai SIPG
*It is old champs versus first-timers when Jeonbuk entertain debutants Shanghai on Tuesday. On the surface, Choi Kanghee's hosts team are the favourites to progress considering their pedigree and experiences on the Asian scene. However, Sven-Goran Eriksson's visitors have proven themselves capable of emulating the fairy-tale success achieved by Western Sydney Wanderers, who defied all odds to clinch the 2014 title on debut. Shanghai won a group which also featured the likes of Suwon Bluewings and Gamba Osaka, before seeing off FC Tokyo 2-1 over two legs to reach the last eight. They made Jeonbuk sweat in the first-leg meeting with top-scorer Wu Lei coming close in the closing stages. Despite missing playmaker Dario Conca, their hopes are boosted by the return of Brazilian international Hulk, who completed a brace as they drew 2-2 with Beijing Guoan in the C League on Friday.

Jeonbuk, too, entered the return on the back of a 2-2 draw at home against Jeonnam Dragons on Saturday, though they threw away a 2-0 lead to concede two late goals and share the spoils. While goal-scoring is rarely a problem for the 2006 winners, it is their leaky defence which must cause most concern for coach Choi. Leonardo, who hit Shanghai’s post in the first leg, shoulders the goal-scoring tasks for the hosts and his form will be key if Jeonbuk are to breach the visitors' well-organised defence. Partnering him upfront is none other than the evergreen Lee Donggook, who was on target against Jeonnam while Ricardo Lopes is expected to continue to provide the drive from midfield.

*The other attractions
*
Shandong Luneng welcome FC Seoul knowing that they have a mountain to climb after losing the first leg 3-1 away. To reverse the two-goal deficit, Felix Magath's side are left with little option but to attack. But Italian striker Graziano Pelle has yet to find his feet upon his return from the recent FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers and the fact is not helped by the potential absence of winger Liu Binbin, who was injured in Saturday's 1-1 draw against Tianjin Teda. Forward Yang Xu and Wang Yongpo are called back from the reserve side to enhance the potency upfront, while Walter Montillo continued his brilliant form with the opener against Tianjin. Despite losing 1-0 at Incheon United, FC Seoul arrive at Jinan brimming with confidence considering not only their two-goal advantage, but their dominant performances in the last meeting.

Lokomotiv Tashkent face a must-win scenario when they entertain inaugural winners Al Ain. The Uzbek hosts reached the last eight for the first time largely courtesy of their trademark solid defence, but to spring another surprise they must attack to defeat Al Ain. The hosts can take heart from their Round of 16 victory against Al Hilal when they won 2-1 at home to advance despite drawing 0-0 away, and they enter the re-meeting in winning form after thrashing 3-0 Shurtan Guzar on Friday. Knowing that a result greater than a 1-1 draw is enough to take them through, the visitors will look to the creative form of captain Omar Abdulrahman.

Al Nasr expected to enjoy a three-goal advantage heading into the return against El Jaish at home, only for the AFC to announce on Monday afternoon that the first leg had been forfeited due to the ineligibility of first-leg star Wanderley on his debut. The hosts will be boosted by the return of French midfielder Jires Kembo Ekoko, who missed the first leg through suspension, while El Jaish will look to Seydou Keita's creativity and deadly finishing from Uzbekistan’s Sardor Rashidov.

*Player to watch
*
With both Conca and Hulk missing the first leg, Shanghai could manage no better than a goalless draw against Jeonbuk at home. With the latter available in the return, though, Eriksson's outfit are hopeful of continuing their amazing run as the tournament surprise packages. The 30-year-old former Porto and Zenit St. Petersburg striker joined Shanghai in June amid a blaze of publicity, only to spend recent weeks nursing an injury. He did, however, make an immediate impact upon his return, breaking the deadlock with a solo effort before stepping up to the spot to grab the equaliser against Beijing.

The stat
13
- FC Seoul's top-scorer Adriano heads to the decisive second leg at Shandong aiming to score his 13th goal of this campaign and to even the tournament goal-scoring record set by his fellow Brazilian Muriqui in 2013.

What they said
*"FC Seoul are in the driver's seat after winning the first leg. And they have been strongly favoured by many, but we won't give up without fight. I am hoping that we can spring a surprise in the return," *Shandong Luneng coach Felix Magath

Quarter-final second leg fixtures
*
13&14 September
*Lokomotiv Tashkent-Al Ain
Al Nasr-El Jaish
Jeonbuk Motors-Shanghai SIPG
Shandong Luneng-FC Seoul

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