ACL Preview: Adelaide United v FC Bunyodkor

Bunyodkor will be a very familiar foe for Reds fans, who have fond memories of the last time the Uzbek club came to Hindmarsh Stadium.

Date: Wednesday 2 May, 2012 Kick-off: 7.00pm AEST, 7.30pm local Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium

Head-to-head Played: 3 Wins: Adelaide 2, Bunyodkor 1, Draw: 0

Previous encounter Adelaide 2, Bunyodkor 1, 6 March 2012

History: Bunyodkor will be a very familiar foe for Reds fans, who have fond memories of the last time the Uzbek club came to Hindmarsh Stadium.

Having bundled out Kashima Antlers in the quarter-finals of the 2008 AFC Champions League, Adelaide were looking for a good first-up result against the Swallows to start the two-legged semi-final. Nobody in their wildest dreams could have predicted what came next - Diego Walsh, Fabian Barbiero and Cristiano all scored, and United had one foot in the final.

They might have lost the second leg 1-0 but the battle was won - and when these two sides renewed acquaintances nearly two months ago, Adelaide again flexed their muscle with a vital 2-1 triumph in Tashkent.

Form: Past five matches: Adelaide: LWDLW Bunyodkor: WLWDW

Summary of form:

It might have been a domestic season to forget for Adelaide, but who cares - the Reds are on another fairytale run in the AFC Champions League.

Currently top of the tree in Group E following wins over each of the other three teams drawn with them - Bunyodkor, Gamba Osaka and Pohang - United will advance to the knockout stage of the competition if they do not lose to the Uzbek side in their penultimate match. The form book might look up and down for Adelaide, but they corrected their 1-0 away loss to Pohang earlier this month with a win by the same scoreline two weeks ago.

Bunyodkor are enjoying a successful start to their new season, sitting equal top of the table in their domestic league - and, with their second placing in Group E, they're in the box seat for a berth to the next round of the ACL.

It's all been clicking in the final third for the Swallows, having scored 24 goals in their last 10 games across all competitions. In fact, not once in 2012 has a team been able to stop Bunyodkor from finding the back of the net - that includes their two pre-season friendlies against Wolfsburg and Zenit, as well as in the ACL and their domestic league and cup.

Match Committee:

Star pair Dario Vidosic and Sergio van Dijk (hamstring) will both undergo fitness tests to ensure they're right to go for this game - and they should be. Adelaide have also recently announced the signings of former Gold Coast United pair Daniel Bowles and Jake Barker-Daish, although neither are registered in United's squad and thus cannot take part in the current stage of the ACL. Meanwhile, Bunyodkor have no major absentees.

Danger men:

Bruce Djite - This guy knows all about what it takes to produce the goods in Asia. A member of the Adelaide side that went to the final in the 2008 ACL, Djite will be tasked with leading the line on Wednesday and with just one more win needed to secure their passage to the quarter-finals, the marksman will be dead keen to do it all again.

David Carney - The last time Carney came to Hindmarsh, he was wearing Sydney FC colours. He's since had spells at Sheffield United, Norwich, FC Twente, Blackpool and Alcorcon since then and penned a deal to join Bunyodkor, his tenth senior club, earlier this year. He might have more stamps on his passport than Kevin Rudd, but his talent remains intact and the Reds will need to look out for his crafty, game-breaking left boot.

At the end of the day…

Incredibly, Adelaide will advance to the knockout stage of the 2012 AFC Champions League if they do not lose to Bunyodkor here. It's hard to believe, given just how bad they were at various stages throughout the Hyundai A-League season, but the Reds seem to be at their best on Asia's biggest stage, for whatever reason.

This is no foregone conclusion, though. First off, the Uzbek side are in red-hot form, which means the likes of Cassio, Nigel Boogard and Daniel Mullen will all need to be on song to keep them quiet. Secondly, Adelaide haven't played a competitive match for nearly two weeks - in fact, they've only played twice this month, both in the ACL.

Could they be a little rusty? Are there some cobwebs that need to be blown out? Who knows? Predicting what United can do in Asia has proven to be a futile exercise in the past, so we're backing them here and hoping for the best.