AFC Champions League 2017: Matchday five - East Zone preview

We're about to get into the business end of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League 2017 group stages and matchday five gets started in the East Zone on Tuesday. Let's take a look at the exciting matchups that await us in this round. 

GROUP E

Brisbane Roar vs Kashima Antlers

Ulsan Hyundai (KOR) v Kashima Antlers (JPN): Japanese side Kashima Antlers will be looking to put behind their indifferent form when they take on third-placed Ulsan Hyundai on Wednesday in an exciting Group E clash. The South Korean side trail Kashima by just two points and can leapfrog them with a win while Kashima will progress to the knockout stages if they win and Muangthong United win in the other group game. 

Kashima's two victories so far have come at home and it is that weakness, Ulsan will be keen to exploit in this game. They might have fallen to a 2-0 defeat to Kashima in the first matchday in the group but will be certainly confident in familiar surroundings. 

Venue: Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium, Ulsan
Kick-off: April 26, 19:30 UTC+9

Muangthong United (THA) v Brisbane Roar (AUS): With two wins and two draws to their credit, Thai side Muangthong United have been the surprise packages in Group E and are the leaders with eight points. As such, a win when they host A-League side Brisbane Roar will be enough to ensure their qualification to the next round, while a loss could see Brisbane eliminated (provided Kashima defeat Ulsan Hyundai). 

But Brisbane will not be easy opponents for the Thai side, who are riding high on confidence after defeating Kashima Antlers 2-1 in the previous round. Another win on Wednesday could see things come to a boil on the final matchday in Group E. 

Venue: Thunderdome Stadium, Nonthaburi
Kick-off: April 26, 19:30 UTC+7

GROUP F

Shinzo Koroki Urawa Red Diamonds v Kashima Antlers J.League 03122016

Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN) v Western Sydney Wanderers (AUS): Japanese outfit Urawa Red Diamonds, who lead Group F with nine points from four games, only need to avoid a defeat on Wednesday when they host Western Sydney Wanderers to seal progress to the knockout stages. The Wanderers, however, have survival at stake against the in-form Diamonds. 

But the A-League outfit's chances of progressing are extremely small, with just three points in their kitty. Moreover, after a 2-3 reverse in the previous game against FC Seoul, Wanderers will be low in confidence. Urawa will also borrow inspiration from the 4-0 hammering they handed out to Wanderers in the first matchday. 

Venue: Saitama Stadium, Saitama
Kick-off: April 26, 19:30 UTC+9

Shanghai SIPG (CHN) v FC Seoul (KOR): The situation when Shanghai SIPG host FC Seoul is extremely similar to the other Group F game. Shanghai SIPG have nine points from three games and only need to avoid a defeat on Wednesday when they host FC Seoul who have only three points in their kitty. Anything other than the win will see FC Seoul's challenge die down. 

Andre-Villas Boas' side eased past Seoul in the first matchday 1-0 and they will be hoping for a similar result. With the likes of Hulk and Oscar in their ranks, it is very hard to envisage Seoul gaining anything from the game. 

Venue: Shanghai Stadium, Shanghai
Kick-off: April 26, 19:30 UTC+8

GROUP G

Suwon Samsung Bluewings vs Gamba Osaka 2016 AFC Champions League

Suwon Bluewings (KOR) v Kawasaki Frontale (JPN): South Korean side Suwon Bluewings are knocking on the doors of the knockout stages but first they have to negotiate a home tie against Japanese outfit Kawasaki Frontale on Tuesday. Suwon, perched atop Group G with eight points, know that they only have to avoid defeat against Kawasaki Frontale to seal their spot in the next round. 

Meanwhile, Kawasaki Frontale have drawn all four of their group games so far and another draw seems highly likely here which will serve the purposes of Suwon. Intriguingly, Kawasaki have drawn their previous two J.League games as well, giving even more heart to Suwon Bluewings. 

Venue: Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon
Kick-off: April 25, 19:00 UTC +9

Eastern SC (HKG) v Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN): Guangzhou Evergrande will be eager to get back to winning ways when they travel to take on minnows Eastern SC of Hong Kong on matchday five. Guangzhou, who are second in the group with six points, know that a win coupled with Kawasaki Frontale's loss in the other game would ensure a top-two spot for themselves. 

Guangzhou had ran riot over Eastern SC 7-0 in the opening matchday of the tournament and another such result cannot really be laughed away. Both the teams registered wins on the domestic front over the weekend but Guangzhou are overwhelming favourites for this game. 

Venue: Mongkok Stadium, Hong Kong
Kick-off: April 25, 20:00 UTC+8

GROUP F

Jiangsu vs Gamba Osaka

Gamba Osaka (JPN) v Adelaide United (AUS): The battle for second spot in Group F is getting hot and matchday five is sure to forge a way for a survivor. Though Jiangsu Suning have already qualified as Group winner, Gamba Osaka and Adelaide United are fourth and second respectively with just one point separating them. But both teams have their fates in their own hands on Tuesday. 

While Gamba had defeated Adelaide United 3-0 in the first game of the group stages, three defeats since then has derailed their campaign. But Adelaide United have concerns of their own - defenders Dylan McGowan and Taylor Regan are both suspended for the trip to Japan while midfielder Riley McGree misses out for the same reason.

Venue: Suita City Football Stadium, Osaka
Kick-off: April 25, 19:00 UTC+9

Jiangsu FC (CHN) v Jeju United (KOR): South Korean side Jeju United travel to China to take on already-qualified Jiangsu Suning FC in a key matchday five encounter in Group F. Having only four points in their kitty, Jeju United could see a victory on Tuesday move them into a position of power. 

Jiangsu Suning have been dismal in their domestic league but have been clinical on the continent, led by former Chelsea midfielder Ramires. But will they have the motivation to repeat the 1-0 win they notched the last time they played Jeju, will remain to be seen! 

Venue: Nanjing Olympic Sports Center, Nanjing
Kick-off: April 25, 19:35 UTC+8

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