A place in the final beckons as the 2016 AFC Champions League reaches the semi-final stage. Former champions Jeonbuk Motors and 2013 runners-up FC Seoul meet in an all-Korean affair while in west Asia, inaugural winners Al Ain welcome ambitious El Jaish, who look to continue their amazing run in this campaign. Join FIFA.com as we preview the enticing pair of meetings, with the tournament's winner set to compete at the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup Japan.
Jeonbuk Motors-FC Seoul
Many eyes will be on the showdown in east Asia with Jeonbuk Motors entertaining FC Seoul in what is the two sides' first-ever AFC Champions League meeting. It is, in a sense, their long-standing rivalry that is switched from the domestic stage to the continental scene. Choi Kanghee's side enter the encounter with a clear mental edge, having won six and drawn two from the past ten meetings over the last three years. Notably, Jeonbuk defeated FC Seoul home and away this season as they enjoy a 15-point cushion ahead of the rivals at the top of the K-League table.
Besides, there is added motivation with both teams seeking to seal their return to the competition final. Having clinched the title in 2006 and finished runners-up in 2011, Jeonbuk aim to recapture the Asian laurels. Hwang Sunhong's FC Seoul have, meanwhile, fixed sights on emulating their feat of 2013 when they stormed all the way to the final only to be edged out by Guangzhou Evergrande. And each team enters the re-meeting in winning form having registered a solitary-goal victory in their last league fixtures, results which maintained their places in the top two.
The game is set to be entertaining considering the two teams' attacking play. Boasting a formidable attacking line-up in Adriano, Dejan Damjanovic and former Arsenal striker Park Chuyoung, FC Seoul are the tournament's top scorers with 24 goals from ten outings. Jeonbuk are, though, similarly impressive and their firepower was underlined in the 5-0 demolition of Shanghai SIPG in the previous quarter-final outing with Leonardo and Lee Donggook completing a brace each.
The other attraction
If their home and away victories against Al Ain during the group phase are anything to go by, then it seems that El Jaish look set to continue their history-making campaign by inflicting another defeat on the tournament's inaugural winners. Having eliminated Al Nasr en route to the last four, indeed, Sabri Lamouchi's visitors now enter the re-meeting with genuine hopes of a place in the final. But they should keep wary of the strong pedigree of the hosts who twice prevailed in the same stage to make it to the final.
Both teams have opened their new season with two successive wins respectively and in a sense, this re-encounter is anticipated to be a duel between two Brazilian imports. Having scored against Al Ain in the group opener, El Jaish's top-striker Romarinho maintains his prolific form after being on target each as they defeated Al Wakrah and Al Arabi in the recent domestic outings. Al Ain can, for their part, look to Ciao who netted the decisive goal against Lokomotiv Tashkent which sealed their progression to the last four.
The semi-final opener against Jeonbuk holds special meaning for FC Seoul striker Adriano, who is on the verge of levelling the tournament's all-time goal-scoring record of 13 set by his fellow Brazilian Muriqui in 2013. With 12 goals from nine outings, the talisman finds himself top of the competition's goalscoring charts. And his domestic form is similarly notable after racking up 13 goals as FC Seoul maintain their place in the top two of the local table.
2-The match between Jeonbuk and FC Seoul is the second and last in this year's campaign which features two teams from the same league. The other match is the Round of 16 meeting between a pair of Qatari clubs with El Jaish beating Lekhwiya 6-4 over two legs.
What they said
“Not only Dejan Damjanovic, Adriano or Park Chu-Young are good players, the rest of the teams are also outstanding. It is important to have talented players, but what is more important is that the team is on the same page, fighting with the same mentality and thoughts," FC Seoul coach Hwang Sunhong
Semi-final first-leg fixtures:
Al Ain-El Jaish
Jeonbuk Motors-FC Seoul