Melbourne Victory must win tonight's ACL clash with Guangzhou Evergrande. Image courtesy of the australian.com/Michael Klein/Herald Sun
Melbourne Victory hosts Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande tonight in a must-win match for the home team. Melbourne currently sits in third place in Group G, three points adrift of second spot, but with a poor goal difference. Anything short of a victory for Kevin Muscat’s men will most likely end another Asian Champions League campaign short of the knock-out stage.
The A-League club got back to winning ways on the weekend with a 4-1 win away to Wellington. Although on paper the result was impressive, Wellington fielded an injury-hit team with nothing to play for. They can go into tonight’s game expecting the complete opposite against a team bookies have put a top of the outright winner market. The Victory line-up could see the return of classy duo Pablo Contreras and Tom Rogic as they edge close to full fitness. However with a crucial elimination final against Sydney on Friday certainly at the back of Muscat’s mind, it’s unknown how strong the Victory squad will be.
Guangzhou Evergrande has impressed so far in the competition, losing just one of its first four group matches. That record includes a come-from-behind win over Melbourne last month, when the Victory blew a 2-0 half-time lead in China. Manager Marcello Lippi’s main concern heading to Australia will be the absence of Italian playmaker Alessandro Diamanti due to injury. The former Bologna player is heavily involved in most of his side’s goals and will be missed in the Guangzhou midfield. The Chinese outfit will have to be switched on from the first blow of the whistle, as the Victory has been the first team to score in all of its AFC matches this season.
Western Sydney travel to South Korea tonight in their Group H top-of-the-table clash with Ulsan Hyundai . A win for the Wanderers will strengthen their grip on qualification in their first season in the competition.
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