ACL Preview: Guizhou Renhe v Western Sydney Wanderers

Guizhou Renhe and the Western Sydney Wanderers will meet in a matchday two AFC Champions League fixture at the Guiyang Olympic Centre Stadium tonight at 11pm AEDT.

Guizhou Renhe and the Western Sydney Wanderers will meet in a matchday two AFC Champions League fixture at the Guiyang Olympic Centre Stadium tonight at 11pm AEDT.


Past five matches: Guizhou: DLWLW Wanderers: LLLWD

The Game:

Western Sydney are in unchartered waters as a club having suffered three straight losses heading into a vital clash for their ACL hopes. The Wanderers will view Guizhou as the weakest side in the group and having lost their opening match at home to Ulsan will need to get a win on the road here. They should be boosted by the return of defender Matthew Spiranovic, who missed the derby loss to Sydney FC due to international duty. Young striker Tomi Juric should also be right to return after training strongly last week as he recovers from a groin problem. Like the Wanderers, Guizhou head into this clash on the back of some scratchy form, including a 1-0 loss to Kawasaki Frontale on matchday one. They possess a squad with chock full of local Chinese talent as well as a couple of players well-known to Australian fans. Former Adelaide and Gold Coast midfielder Jonas Salley is part of their squad as well as ex-Manchester City defender Sun Jihai. Young Brazilian striker Hyuri adds a touch of class and creativity in attack is one to watch.

The big issue:

Guizhou – Goals. Much like the Wanderers, the Chinese club have built their side around a stingy defence. But quality in the front third has proved a real issue for Lei Gong's troops, who have yet to score a goal this season either in the ACL or Chinese Super League. Hyuri is an exciting player up front but at 22 it's a tough job for him to lead the attack. They will need to get more out of Polish midfielder Krzysztof Maczynski, experienced Bosnian international Zlatan Muslimovic and Chinese pair Rao Weihui and Li Chunyu to boost their scoring options.

Wanderers – Focus. While the Wanderers will require a confidence boost after three straight defeats, Popovic will need to get his side's mind back on the job after the ugly fallout from their derby loss. Accusations of racial vilification against one of their players is likely to be affecting not only the player himself but also his team-mates. If the Wanderers aren't fully focused on the job at hand, it could be a long 90 minutes for them at the Olympic stadium.

The game breaker:

Aaron Mooy – The classy midfielder is a crucial player for the Wanderers and could be used in a more forward role behind the striker with Ono not making the trip to China. Mooy has failed to reach similar heights to his exploits last season – where he won a Socceroos cap – but his all-action style and range of passing makes him a key weapon if the Wanderers are to pick up their first points in the ACL.

Prediction: Guizhou 1-1 Wanderers

It might only be matchday two but this already looms as a must-win game for both side's if they hope to progress to the knockout stages. The Wanderers were given a rude awakening about just how tough life in the ACL would be in the clash with Ulsan and should be a lot better prepared for what's to come in China. Much will depend on how much the long trip following the loss to Sydney FC has sapped out of the side. If they can overcome that and rediscover some confidence the Wanderers are a strong chance to claim all three points.