ACL preview: Urawa Reds v Western Sydney Wanderers
Urawa Reds vs Western Sydney Wanderers (Wed night)
Six points behind with just two games remaining, Western Sydney Wanderers need nothing less than a win but it is not going to be easy. Far from it.
Urawa needs just a draw to be certain of a place in the knockout stage but head coach Mihailo Petrovic said Saturday that he is targeting a win.
The Reds have reason to be confident. There can’t be a tougher assignment in Asia this week than Wanderers' trip to Saitama Stadium just north of Tokyo.
Urawa is back to the kind of best that took the team to the top of Japanese football in 2006 and a continental title the following year.
Incredibly, neither feat has been repeated but this year could be the one. The Reds are top of the J.League and is on course to win the title that many think it deserved in 2016.
A 3-2 win on Saturday over Consadole Sapporo in front of 37,000 fans was the fifth successive win in all competitions.
In Asia, Urawa has nine points from four games, recovering from the 3-2 loss at Shanghai SIPG on Matchday 3 to defeat the cash rich Chinese club at home last time around.
Yet Urawa, who let a ten point lead at the top of the 2007 J. League slip with five games remaining, will know that it is not over until it is over.
At the very least for the 2014 continental champion, there is the 4-0 home loss in the opening game in February to avenge for coach Tony Popovic and his men.
Not to mention banishing the bitter disappointment last Friday night in Brisbane, when their domestic season ended in heart-breaking circumstances.