Reds in the box seat

Ahead of Wednesday's semi-final return leg in this year's AFC Champions League, it is a pair of Reds that look likely to progress to the continental final. Australian side Adelaide United, "The Reds", are on the verge of sealing a place in the final following their 3-0 defeat of Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan two weeks ago, while defending champions Urawa Red Diamonds look to have the edge after a 1-1 draw at Gamba Osaka in the first leg. takes a closer look.

AFC Champions League semi-finals, second legs: 22 October, Wednesday

Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan) - Adelaide United (Australia) Urawa Red Diamonds (Japan) - Gamba Osaka (Japan)

The matches Adelaide United-Bunyodkor Coach Aurelio Vidmar's Adelaide are unquestionably clear favorites heading into the second leg in Tashkent following their 3-0 home win two weeks ago. The three-goal deficit might appear to be a mountain too high to climb, but anyone writing Bunyodkor off does so at their peril. The Uzbeks demonstrated their devastating firepower at home when demolishing Iranian champions Saipa 5-1 in the quarter-finals. The Tashkent-based side are only six games from their first league title as well, having strengthened their dominance in the domestic league with a recent 1-0 win over OTMK, a result which extended their lead to seven points ahead of second-placed Pakhtakor. With a domestic title almost in the bag, coach Zico's charges will be firing on all cylinders against Adelaide.

Urawa Reds-Gamba Osaka The tie is still delicately poised after a 1-1 draw in Osaka, but coach Gert Engels' Urawa team can count on their traditional massive home support. But there are availability concerns for Engels, with the influential midfield duo of Hajime Hosogai and Takahito Soma suspended, along with goalkeeper Ryota Tsuzuki, who figured prominently in the first leg. It is a different story in the Gamba camp, with previously injured striker Lucas Severino recovered and fit to play. A 3-2 defeat of the Reds earlier this season in the J-League has ensured that coach Akira Nishino remains confident ahead of the rematch. "We're not scared of Urawa Reds, and the players and I believe that we can make it to the final."

Player to watch Bunyodkor's Chilean striker Jose Luis Villanueva has been a menace to all opposition, at both domestic and continental level, since he joined Bunyodkor this season. His brilliant performance during September earned him the Player of the Month accolade in Uzbekistan, and his significance for the club was not overshadowed even with the arrival of Brazilian superstar Rivaldo. He picked a hamstring injury in the first half against Adelaide United, and his absence undoubtedly hurt his side, who conceded three goals without reply thereafter. Understandably, his return comes as a timely boost for coach Zico and the team ahead of the return match.

What they said "The 3-0 loss was a surprise for me, and it makes things very hard for us. However, football is football and we have 90 more minutes to play. Many, many times I have seen a team come back from a result like this," Zico, head coach of Bunyodkor.