Saturday 19 October 2019, 14:19

Al Hilal, Urawa hold the aces  

  • Al Sadd face a difficult task in Riyadh

  • Urawa travel to Guangzhou with a two-goal advantage

  • Al Hilal, Urawa looking to reach final for second time in three years

Al Sadd and Guangzhou Evergrande face tough tasks in the second legs of their respective 2019 AFC Champions League semi-finals against Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal and Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds respectively.

The Qataris and Chinese need to bounce back from their first-leg defeats if they are to maintain their hopes of winning the continental title and booking a spot at this December’s FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar.

Al Sadd have it all to do against Al Hilal in the Saudi capital after falling to a 4-1 defeat at home in Doha, while Guangzhou will need at least two goals at home following their 2-0 defeat to the 2007 and 2017 champions in Saitama.

Daisuke Suzuki of Urawa Red Diamonds

Semi-final (second leg)

22-23 October Al Hilal-Al Sadd, King Saud University Stadium, (6:15 pm CET) Guangzhou Evergrande-Urawa Red Diamonds, Tianhe Stadium (2 pm CET)

The match

Guangzhou Evergrande-Urawa Red Diamonds

Nearly three weeks on from their first-leg win in Saitama, where Brazilian forward Fabricio and Takahiro Sekine were the goalscorers, Urawa are looking to finish the job and reach the final of a tournament they won for the second time in their history two years ago.

The Japanese side face no easy task against hosts Guangzhou Evergrande, who have won four of their five home games in the Champions League this year (the other match being a goalless draw with Kashima Antlers in the quarter-finals).

Fabio Cannavaro’s men will be hoping to repeat their 2013 win over Urawa, when they put three unanswered goals past the Reds in their first group match and eventually went on to reach the final.

The other match

Al Hilal-Al Sadd

With their emphatic 4-1 first-leg win in Doha, Al Hilal took a huge step towards the final and boosted their hopes of clinching their first continental title since winning the Asian Club Championship 19 years ago.

For their part, Xavi Hernandez’s Al Sadd hope to make a historic comeback on Tuesday and revive their chances of claiming the continental crown they last won in 2011. With both defender Abdul Karim Hassan and Algerian striker Baghdad Bounedjah absent due to suspension, the Qataris know they face a tall order against a side they have never beaten in Riyadh.

The players

French goal-getter Bafetimbi Gomis was Al Hilal’s hero in the first leg. After scoring an own-goal in the first half, the in-form striker bounced back to score a brace, leading his team’s impressive comeback. Meanwhile, Al Sadd will look to their striker Akram Afif, the scorer of two goals so far in the knockout stage, to make up for the absence of the suspended Baghdad Bounedjah.

And the same can be said for Guangzhou’s Anderson Talisca, whose five goals have proved vital for his side so far, while Urawa will be relying on the skills of Shinzo Koroki, Kenyu Sugimoto and Fabricio.

The stat

9 - The visit to Guangzhou will be Urawa’s ninth AFC Champions League match in China PR, where they have never won.

What they said

“We’re not giving up! Anything can happen in football and we have no option but to work hard and do our best to maintain our hopes of qualifying." Al Sadd coach Xavi Hernandez on the return match against Al Hilal.