Preview: Urawa Red Diamonds v Brisbane Roar FC

Brisbane Roar FC  will go in search of their first 2015 AFC Champions League group stage victory away to Urawa Red Diamonds on Wednesday night in Saitama.

The Hyundai A-League title-holders suffered a painful 1-0 loss at home to Beijing Guoan in their 2015 tournament opener last week, conceding from a deflected free-kick in injury time on the Gold Coast.

It’s a busy period for Frans Thijssen’s men. On Saturday night they were in Western Australia and earned a credible 2-2 draw away to A-League leaders Perth Glory.

But with the long flight to Japan following soon after, there could be more than a few tired bodies lining up for kick-off at Saitama Stadium. 

While the Roar may be fatigued from a packed schedule, the Reds could well suffer from their lack of match sharpness.

With the 2015 J-League campaign not due to begin until Saturday, the only recent competitive action for Mihailo Petrovic’s side ended in a 2-1 loss away to Suwon Bluewings in their Group G curtain-raiser last Wednesday. 

On Saturday they lost 2-0 to J1 and Emperor’s Cup winners Gamba Osaka in the season-opening Super Cup.

Despite their rustiness and recent poor form, the Reds, who finished second in J1 last season, just one point behind the champions, are expected to offer a stern test to the Roar.

“They will continually try and get behind us. We will have to be disciplined and not let their attackers get too much room,” Thijssen said.

New arrivals Zlatan Ljubijankic and Naoki Ishihara, signed from Omiya Ardija and Sanfrecce Hiroshima respectively, will be vying with Tadanari Lee to start in attack for the hosts this week.

The visitors meanwhile have close to a full roster of players to choose from, although mid-season recruit Jerome Polenz is not eligible for the Champions League.

That means Jack Hingert is likely to start at right-back, with Shane Stefanutto, rested for the match away to Perth on Saturday, potentially set to come in at left-back. 

Luke DeVere, Corey Brown, Jade North and James Donachie are among the players vying to start in central defence.

“They are all good strong, tall players who do a very good job for us. It’s a decision we will consider closely over the next 24 hours,” Thijssen said.

“But they all know each other’s games now. It is a good position to be in to have a number of combinations we could pick.”