The East Asian section knockout stage of this year’s ACL starts in about half an hour when Guangzhou Evergrande host Kashima Antlers, and about thirty minutes later, Kawasaki Frontale play Muangthong United away in Bangkok.
In regards to the first game, I hold Evergrande as favourites, both in this match and to go through to the quarter finals. The Chinese side only finished second in their group behind Kawasaki on away goals scored in the two matches between the sides and, with six straight wins, have found their stride in the CSL, while the visitors have suffered two consecutive home defeats in the J-League.
The clash in Thailand is harder to call. At a glance, Muangthong are the obvious underdogs, with a 2-3 loss at home to Port FC in midweek. and the scoreline repeated against Ubon UMT on saturday, the SCG Stadium is no longer the fortress it looked earlier in the season. With Kawasaki flying high after 9 point in three matches in domestic competition it looks like a no brainer. However, Muangthong have thrived when playing continental football and not being expected to dominate play so there is a fairly good chance we could see an upset in the Thai capital tonight.