AFC Champions League Preview: Guangzhou Evergrande eye last-16 spot
By Football News
Guangzhou Evergrande can close in on a last-16 spot as AFC Champions League groups begin to take shape on matchday five.
The reigning champions and Chinese Super League leaders travel to Australia to face Melbourne Victory in Group G.Marcello Lippi's men top the group on seven points – the same number as Jeonbuk Motors – while Victory and Yokohama F Marinos have four each.
The Chinese heavyweights have won consecutive league games while netting nine times and another open game could be expected at Etihad Stadium.
Alessandro Diamanti scored two of his three Champions League goals when the teams met in China, and Victory held a 2-0 half-time lead on that occasion before losing 4-2.
The A-League outfit have plenty of attacking talent of their own with James Troisi and Kosta Barbarouses.
But with a finals game to follow on the weekend, just who lines up for Kevin Muscat's side remains to be seen.
Like the Victory, Yokohama F Marinos need a win when they host Jeonbuk Motors.
Saudi side Al Shabab could seal progression from Group A if they can claim a win at home to Esteghlal.
If Al Jazira also win at Al Rayyan, the group will be decided before the final matchday.
Group C leaders Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates are sure to rely on Asamoah Gyan once more when they travel to Lekhwiya.
Gyan has scored five of their eight goals in Asia as they look to reach the round of 16, while the group's other game sees Al Ittihad host Tractor Sazi.
Iran's Foolad and Qatar's El Jaish only need a point each when they meet in Group B, which would end Bunyodkor and Al Fateh's campaigns regardless of their result in Uzbekistan.
Alongside Gyan atop the goalscoring charts is Nasser Al Shamrani, whose Al Hilal side travel to Al Ahli in a tightly contested Group D.
Al Ahli top the group (six points) ahead of Al Hilal (five, +4 goal difference), while Al Sadd (five, -3) visit Sepahan (four).
Central Coast are a point clear of three teams in Group F ahead of hosting Seoul, while Sanfrecce Hiroshima visit Beijing Guoan.
The Pohang Steelers are three points clear atop Group E ahead of their trip to Cerezo Osaka, while Buriram United desperately need a win at home to Shandong Luneng.
Western Sydney would be happy with a point at Group H leaders Ulsan and Guizhou Renhe host Kawasaki Frontale.