AFC Champions League: Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao -Western Sydney Warriors
The last two winners of this competition meet in Guangzhou , renewing a rivalry from last year when Warriors knocked out Evergrande at the quarter final stage en route to wiining the competition. They were two very tight games, with WSW edging home by the minimum margin in the first leg and then going through on away goals on the back of a 2-1 loss in China. It is now Warriors who are defending the title and that was always going to be a huge ask for them this season, not just to do well in this, but also to compete domestically after a hugely draining 2014. I have reproduced notes from last year's first meeting below to provide some background information, we did not preview the group game in Australia in March where a GET team, perhaps also out for a little revenge, won 3-2, courtesy of a Ricardo Goulart hat trick. However, the key points today are that the hosts are already group winners and have nothing to play for but pride and possibly a little more revenge, they play the two Shanghai teams in the next week, including Dongya who currently lead GET by one point at the top of the table and are likely to at least play with those games in mind, giving that this is effectively meaningless.
We also know that it is incredibly dangerous and foolhardy to ever write WSW off, they love to surprise and are absolutely certain to give their all and leave nothing on the pitch today. There task is very difficult, they need to win and hope that the FC Seoul- Kashima Antlers game ends in a draw, that is set to be very close with the winner progressing, or a draw being enough for the Korean team if WSM do not win, so it is easy to see a cat and mouse encounter at least through 45 minutes in Kashima, which should give Warriors encouragement. They are missing several players today including suspended trio of striker Kerem Bulut, defender Yusuke Tanaka and midfielder Kearyn Baccus, but that doesn't really change too much, they will have to gamble and look for goals, as whatever side the hosts put out, they are very difficult to keep out for 90 minutes on home soild, but they are more vulnerable in recent times and have already conceded three at home to Antlers in the group stage ( 4-3) and two to WSW in the reverse leg and the visitors got the away they required here last season, so don't rule out them at least making a decent stab at this and even if they lose heavily, 4-2 or something similar is possible and I see value, if you can find it, in Western Sydney Warriors to score over 1.5 goals ( two or more) at circa 3.50 ( I unit), far easier to back is "over" 3 goals which is a general 2.29 with Sportmarket Pro/ Pinnacle