Three Japanese teams are in AFC Champions League action this week, and Nagoya Grampus will be the first to attempt to qualify for the quarter-finals as they travel to Australia to meet Adelaide United on Tuesday 29 May for the single-tie elimination contest.
United’s progress through the competition has been interesting, a third placed-finish in the 2010-11 season enough to secure their place in the tournament, but they were elevated to an automatic group position only after China’s Liaoning Whowin and Indonesian club Persipura Jayapura had withdrawn their participation. They made the most of the opportunity, topping Group E and losing only once on the way to the Round of 16, and will provide a stern test at the Hindmarsh Stadium.
The two draws Dragan Stojković’s side completed versus Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma cost them the chance of winning Group G outright, particularly allowing Héverton’s 93rd minute equaliser on Matchday One, and which prompted the trip overseas. They may need to be ruthless with any openings which come their way against a defence which only conceded two goals across their six group games, though they may be encouraged by a team whose form in the Champions League has not been replicated in the domestic competition. That, however, could apply equally to Grampus themselves.
Join me from 10:30 BST/19:30 JST when I’ll be covering the match in full here at Football Japan, with kick-off scheduled for 11:00 BST/18:00 JST. I do hope you can join me for this encounter.