Hyundai A-League clubs’ MD2 ACL preview

It was not the best of opening weeks for Hyundai A-League clubs in the 2017 AFC Champions League group stage, but there are still five games to put it right. It all starts again on Tuesday as matchday 2 kicks off.

Ulsan Hyundai Horangi vs Brisbane Roar

Tuesday night 

Brisbane was held to a goalless draw at home to Thai champions Muangthong United and face a long trip to a city on the south-east coast of Korea Republic, on the back of Saturday’s home loss to Wellington in the league. 

Phoenix keep touch with top six after stunning Roar

Ulsan took the title in 2012 but this time is late replacement for excluded champion Jeonbuk Motors and have been hastily adding players to improve their squad, including Dimitri Petratos, ironically from Brisbane Roar.

It did not pay dividends. The Tigers lost their opener 2-0 at Kawasaki Frontale but it was a decent performance. The visitor just was not clinical enough in front of goal and that proved to be the difference in the end.

There was some encouraging link-up play between Lee Jong-ho, signed from Jeonbuk in the close season and once known as “The Gwangyang Rooney” and new Croatian signing Mislav Orsic.

If these two can click in attack then Ulsan will be dangerous on Tuesday night. 

This is the team’s final game before the start of the 2017 K-League Classic season so Ulsan should be fresh and focused if not quite as cohesive as it would like.

Shanghai SIPG vs Western Sydney Wanderers

Tuesday night 

The 2014 ACL champions are finding it a little tough in the Hyundai A-League of late – the weekend’s 2-0 loss in Perth has them clinging on to a spot in the six with the Jets nipping at their heels – and a trip to Shanghai SIPG may not provide much relief. 

There should be plenty of excitement though with the likes of Oscar, Hulk and Elkeson lining up for the hosts.

SIPG picked up a hard-fought 1-0 win over FC Seoul in last week’s opener. 

The game was notable for two things. The first was that the only goal was scored by Hulk and it was done so in spectacular fashion. The Brazilian repaid a slice of his reported $75 million fee with a left-footed rocket from outside the area.

The second was that despite the sending off of central defender He Guan for the final 30 minutes, the Chinese team held on for a vital win.

It suggests that as well as the attacking prowess that the Reds have, there is steel at the other end.

Jiangsu Suning vs Adelaide United

Wednesday night

The trip to Nanjing will be a long one for the defending Hyundai A-League champion who are coming off a 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory on Saturday, as they languish in bottom place. 

Jiangsu, for their part, have high hopes ahead of the new Chinese Super League season and in Asia too.

Last week, Jiangsu was somewhat fortunate to take all three points at Jeju United. 

On a windy evening on the Korea Republic island, Jeju hit the woodwork on two occasions and had Jeju struggling.

Yet with a minute of regular time left, Ramires scuffed a shot in the area and it bobbled into the Korean net. And that was it.

The only downside was the injury to Alex Teixeira. The Brazilian suffered a muscle strain and was withdrawn at half-time.

The expensive playmaker played the full 90 in Saturday’s 1-0 Super Cup loss to Guangzhou Evergrande and should start against Adelaide, too.