Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Urawa Red Diamonds v Gamba Osaka AFC Champions League

The semi-finals of the AFC Champions League begin to today with Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor visiting Adelaide United whilst J-League giants Urawa Red Diamonds and Gamba Osaka battle for the final spot.

The Red Diamonds visit to Osaka offers little surprises to these great rivals. Urawa are looking to defend their title but have been stumbling of recent in league action with only a single victory in the last six matches. In the clubs only meeting this year, Akira Nishino's Gamba handled the Red Diamonds a tough 3-2 defeat in-front of a packed house at Saitama Stadium. On the other side of the pitch Gamba has been slowly moving up the table with efficient Football and offering the opposition few scoring opportunities. This past weekend they shut down Kashima Antlers after three successive victories. Much of the battle will be decided in the disciplined midfield play with Nippon Daihyo 日本代表 代表 Yasuhito Endō leading the charge for Gamba facing off against the formidable Red Diamond midfield that includes Takahito Soma and fellow Daihyo Marcus Tulio Tanaka and Yuki Abe on the back-line.

In the other match of the day, at a packed Hindmarsh Stadium, Aurelio Vidmar's squad will employ their stingy defense in a effort to control the surging Uzbekistan club.

Prior to the match Aurelio Vidmar noted:

"It would be nice to keep a clean sheet but I think we’re good enough to score goals and I think through this whole campaign we’ve been very good defensively so I expect that to continue."

Adelaide will miss central defender Sasa Ognenovski but Lucas Pantelis is expected back from injury. Bunyodkor, led by Brazilian legend Zico, offer a punishing attack with Rivaldo at the helm.