AFC Champions League 2017: Round of 16 - Second leg preview

Andre-Villas Boas; Shanghai SIPG manager
Things are heating up in Asia's premier club competition as quarterfinal spots beckon the teams...

The second legs of the Round of 16 fixtures in the AFC Champions League starts tomorrow with 16 teams vying for the 8 spots in the quarterfinals. Sparks are bound to fly and let's take a closer look at the fixtures: 


Al Ain (UAE) v Esteghlal (IRN) 

Esteghlal vs Al Ain; Abdulrahman

Al Ain find themselves in a slight spot of bother as they prepare to host Iran's Esteghlal in the second leg on Monday. The Emirati side have to overcome a 1-0 first leg loss, thanks to an injury-time penalty from Kaveh Rezaei. At home, Al Ain are a dangerous side and are certainly capable of overcoming the first leg setback, especially if Omar Abdulrahman comes to the party. Much of their attack is channeled through the 25-year-old and Esteghlal will be hoping he has a quiet game. 

Also, Al Ain will have the sevices of star striker Nasser Al Shamrani who is back from suspension. Esteghlal will be hopeful of holding on to their advantage but will have to play another flawless game defensively to keep Al Ain at bay. 

Venue: Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
Kick-off: May 29, 22:45 UTC+4

Al Ahli (UAE) v Al Ahli (KSA)

Al Ahli vs Al Ahli

UAE's Al Ahli battle Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli once again, this time at home turf in the second leg on Monday. After the first leg in Saudi Arabia saw a 1-1 draw, the Emirati Al Ahli have the advantage of an away goal but there is everything still to play for. The last time the namesakes met in Dubai, the game finished in a 3-3 draw - a result the Saudi Arabian side would love to replicate and progress to the quarterfinals. 

The Saudi side know that they have to score to stand a chance of progressing while the Emirati side will be hoping thier defence can put in a sturdy performance while star strikers Makhete Diop and Asamoah Gyan do the damage at the other end. 

Venue: Rashid Stadium, Dubai
Kick-off: May 29, 23:00 UTC+4

Lekhwiya (QAT) v Persepolis (IRN)

Persepolis vs Lekhwiya

There's all to play for as Qatar's Lekhwiya SC host Iran's Persepolis for their Round of 16 second leg clash on Tuesday. The first leg in Iran finished in a goalless draw with Persepolis' Mehdi Taremi failing to convert a second half penalty that would have seen his side come to Doha with an advantage. As of now they have to beat Lekhwiya who have a 100% record at home in the AFC Champions League so far. 

Persepolis have shown themselves to be a resilient outfit and can score goals, especially if Mehdi Taremi comes to the party but to beat Lekhwiya, who are on a high after winning the Qatar Stars League, at home will be tough task. 

Venue: Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: May 30, 22:00 UTC+3

Al Hilal (KSA) v Esteghlal Khouzestan (IRN)

Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal host Iran's Esteghlal Khouzestan in the second leg clash on Tuesday, looking to consolidate on their first leg victory. The Saudi Arabian side came from behind to win 2-1 in the first leg and will look to close out the game at home. Al Hilal had missed out on the quarterfinals in 2016 and will be doubly determined to ensure they don;t let the advantage slip away this time. 

Esteghlal Khouzestan have to come out attacking since they need to score at least two goals if they hope to overcome their Saudi Arabian opponents. Incidentally, they have failed to score twice in a game in seven attempts on the continent this time. 

Venue: Thani Bin Jassim Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: May 30, 22:30 UTC+3


Kashima Antlers (JPN) v Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN)

Guangzhou Evergrande vs Kashima Antlers

Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou Evergrande travel to Japan to take on Kashima Antlers in their Round of 16 second leg clash on the back of a 1-0 win in the first leg, courtesy of a second-half Paulinho strike. Luiz Felipe Scolari's side know that a goalless draw in Japan will send them through but Kashima Antlers have been very strong at home this season and the Chinese side will have to defend very well to progress. 

Kashima have scored nine goals in three home games so far on the continent but will be concerned by the fact that if Guangzhou score on the night, they will have to score three goals to over come the deficit. 

Venue: Kashima Soccer Stadium, Ibaraki
Kick-off: May 30, 19:00 UTC+9

Kawasaki Frontale (JPN) v Muangthong United (THA)

Kawasaki Frontale are in an extremely strong position as they host Muangthong United for the second leg of their Round of 16 clash on Tuesday. The first leg in Thailand saw Kawasaki Frontale come from a goal behind to register a 3-1 victory which effectively seals their place in the quarterfinals, barring a comeback of epic proportions from Muangthong United. 

It is a tough task for the Thai side seeing that they have scored only one away goals in three attempts in the group stages and scoring three on Tuesday seems to be a big ask. By all means, we should see the Japanese side confirm their spot in the quarterfinals. 

Venue: Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium, Kawasaki
Kick-off: May 30, 19:00 UTC+9

Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN) v Jeju United (KOR)

Jeju United vs Urawa Red Diamonds

Urawa Red Diamonds are in an unenviable position as they look to overturn a two-goal deficit as they host South Korea's Jeju United in the second leg of their Round of 16 clash on Wednesday. The first leg in Korea saw Jeju United win 2-0, thanks to a fantastic performance from goalkeeper Kim Jo-Hun which helped them deny an away goal to Urawa Red Diamonds. 

Though the Japanese side have been forced to score more than two goals at home, it wouldn't be an impossible task for them. Urawa have a 100% record at home and have scored 12 goals in three games, which should be of some concern to Jeju United who will have to defend extremely well to book passage to the quarterfinals and stop Urawa from doing so for the first time since 2013. 

Venue: Saitama Stadium, Saitama
Kick-off: May 31, 19:30 UTC+9

Jiangsu FC (CHN) v Shanghai SIPG (CHN)

Jiangsu Suning have to overhaul a one-goal deficit when they take on Shanghai SIPG at home for the second leg of their Round of 16 clash on Wednesday. But Jiangsu managed to get an away goal in a 2-1 defeat and as aresult need only a 1-0 win to overcome the deficit in the second leg. Andre-Villas Boas' men will be tough nuts to crack for Jiangsu who are struggling domestically while the opposite is true for their opponents. 

Shanghai have been brilliant in attack but have been indecisive in defence and in a game that looks very hard to call, that particular aspect might just be the determining factor. In any case, this matchup promises to be an intriguing affair. 

Venue: Nanjing Olympic Sports Center, Nanjing
Kick-off: May 31, 20:00 UTC+8