Last-four berths beckon in Asia

  • The last-eight features four former winners and holders Kashima

  • Three teams aiming to win their third Asian title

  • Guangzhou and Kashima match up in a clash of champions

Five former champions headline the quarter-final field as the AFC Champions League heads into the business end on Monday. Aside from claiming continental glory, a ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019 is also on offer to the victor.

In the far east, there are a pair of Sino-Japanese clashes with two-time winners Guangzhou Evergrande entertaining holders Kashima Antlers, while Urawa Red Diamonds travel to China PR to face Shanghai SIPG. A Saudi trio, meanwhile, takes centre stage in the west with Al Ittihad and Al Hilal battling against each other in an all-Saudi affair and Al Nassr welcoming Qatari giants Al Sadd. Join as we preview the match-ups.

The match Guangzhou Evergrande-Kashima Antlers Having each won at home in their previous meetings during the 2015 edition, both sides enter the re-meeting seeking to go one better with victory. Fabio Cannavaro's hosts will look to translate their unstoppable domestic form to the Asian front, having recently won 13 games on the trot in the Chinese Super League. The visiting Kashima, meanwhile, have gone four games undefeated in the J1 League, including drawing 2-2 against Gamba Osaka.

The host side will look to their Brazilian stars Paulinho and Anderson Talisca as well as the recently-returned Elkeson, who proved instrumental in Guangzhou's title-winning campaigns in 2013 and 2015. Kashima, for their part, can count on Serginho, who scored five times during the knockout stage to help them to the title last season.

The other attractions Shanghai SIPG will look to the goalscoring form of Brazilian striker Hulk and hope to build on their strong home record this season - they have gone 19 games unbeaten at home in all competitions - when they entertain Urawa Red Diamonds. The visitors, meanwhile, can take heart from their overwhelming performances in 2017, when they won twice and drew once against Shanghai en route to the title.

Having played against each other on more than 100 occasions, Al Ittihad and Al Hilal again extend their long-standing rivalry to the Asian stage with this last-eight encounter. Their last Asian meeting saw the former prevail 3-1 in the Round of 16, and the Jeddah side can draw inspiration from their back-to-back title-winning performances in 2004 and 2005. Al Hilal will, of course, look to build on their runners-up finishes in 2014 and 2017 and break through for a maiden continental title.

Having lifted the Champions League in 2011, Al Sadd, under former Spanish international Xavi, will hope to reproduce their title-winning form against hosts Al Nassr. But the Qatari visitors will need to be wary of the progress made by the Saudi hosts, a fact borne out when they recently claimed the Saudi league title and stormed to the last eight of the continental tournament for the first time.

Player to watch The goalscoring form of Bafetimbi Gomis will be key if Al Hilal are to register an opening win at Al Ittihad. The 34-year-old former France international has been in prolific form since joining in 2018, managing 21 goals in the last Saudi League season and scoring seven times in the current Champions League campaign.

What they said "It will be difficult [against Urawa Red Diamonds] because they have good players and they're a good team. But the first game will be important for us. We play at home and we have to score and not concede. We have our chance." Shanghai SIPG head coach Vitor Pereira

Quarter-final fixtures (First leg: 26-27 August; second leg: 16-18 September) Shanghai SIPG-Urawa Red Diamonds Guangzhou Evergrande-Kashima Antlers Al Nassr-Al Sadd Al Ittihad-Al Hilal