Reds’ ACL warning: ‘Argentine star the danger’

If Adelaide United can keep the shackles on Argentine playmaker Walter Montillo they can beat Shandong Luneng, according to ex-Liaoning Whowin centre-back Josh Mitchell.

The Reds will host Shandong at Coopers Stadium on Tuesday in a play-off for a spot in Group F of the 2016 AFC Champions League (ACL). 

And Mitchell – who spent a year playing in the Chinese Super League (CSL) – rates Montillo as the visitors’ key man.

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The former Cruzeiro and Santos attacking midfielder missed the majority of the 2015 season on the sidelines due to injury but led the way in Shandong’s 6-0 qualifying triumph over Mohun Bagan last week, scoring the opener against the Indian club.

Walter Montillo

Mitchell reckons Shandong will play on the counter-attack in Adelaide, and predicts most of their attacks will go through Montillo.

“I think stopping the number 10 and being aware of the runners in behind is [Adelaide’s] main [priority],” the Australian defender told Goal Australia.

“If they can do that, if they can stop Montillo providing the passes… then [Adelaide will] create their own chances.”

To underline how highly-rated Montillo is at Shandong, the 31-year-old’s return to fitness has seen coach Mano Menezes leave last year’s star Aloisio out of this season’s ACL squad.

Aloisio scored 22 goals in the 2015 CSL playing in behind Shandong’s lead striker.

Shandong were the second-most prolific side in the CSL last season, scoring 66 goals in 30 games as they finished third.

Mitchell was very impressed with the likes of striker Yang Xu and winger Wang Yongpo last year – the pair also notched three goals and two assists between them against Mohun Bagan.

The Chinese duo adds plenty of speed to Shandong’s line-up.

Shandong Luneng's Wang Tong celebrates scoring in last season's ACL.

But Shandong also conceded 41 goals in 2015 to sit seventh in terms of defence.

“They really pose an attacking threat,” Mitchell said.

“They destroyed some CSL teams last year… so they’re a hard one to contain, but at the same time, they’re vulnerable the other way.”

With the 2016 CSL season still a few weeks away, Mitchell also backed Adelaide to finish the game stronger than Shandong.

“If they [Adelaide] can keep a high tempo throughout the game and keep the opposition moving, and keep them on their toes, it will work in Adelaide’s favour towards the end of the game,” he said.

“The game could stretch and open out, and Adelaide certainly have the players to score goals.”