ACL preview: Kashima Antlers vs Brisbane Roar
After the 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Ulsan Horangi in Korea Republic, things are not about to get any easier for John Aloisi and his men as they face another long trip north.
Kashima is the most successful Japanese team of all time and won its eighth J.League title in 2016 before going on to enjoy the FIFA Club World Cup in December.
Kashima progressed all the way to the final and then gave a good account of itself against Real Madrid.
Results so far in 2017 have been mixed. There was a solid 2-0 win over Ulsan Horangi at home and then a defeat to Muangthong United of Thailand in the group.
In the J.League, there is a feeling that Kashima has yet to really get going with the team from Ibaraki looking solid rather than spectacular.
New goalkeeper Kwon Sun-tae, signed from Asian champs Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea, has picked the ball out of the net just once in three games.
The central defensive partnership of Gen Shoji and Naomichi Uedais as good as it gets in Asia and with veteran midfielder Mitsuo Ogasawara still appearing in midfield, there is plenty of experience in the line-up.
Mu Kanazaki, a star of the Club World Cup, adds some spark further up the pitch too.