ACL preview: Kawasaki Frontale v Melbourne Victory

Melbourne Victory will be desperate to get their AFC Champions League campaign back on track when they tackle Kawasaki Frontale in Japan on Wednesday night from 9pm AEDT on Fox Sports 505. 

Kevin Muscat's side have accrued just one point from their opening two matches and need a result to ensure they keep touch with Shanghai SIPG (six points) and Ulsan Hyundai (four points). 

Victory will be boosted by Friday's Derby win over City and come up against a Kawasaki outfit who have lost both of their opening group fixtures. 

Get to know a little more about Victory's Japanese opponent ahead of Wednesday night's crucial encounter. 

Opta Widget: Opta

What are their results so far?

Match Day 1: Kawasaki Frontale 0-1 Shanghai SIPG
Match Day 2: Ulsan Hyundai 2-1 Kawasaki Frontale

Who are their key players?

Striker Yu Kobayashi topped the J-League goalscoring charts last season with 23 goals, a big factor behind Kawasaki’s run to the title. The 30-year-old has made over 250 appearances for the club since his debut back in 2010.

Veteran midfielder Kengo Nakamura is another one to watch. The 37-year-old lead the J1 League for assists in 2017 with 12, two ahead of Cristiano from Kawisha Reysol and Yusuke Maruhashi from Cerezo Osaka.

He has made over 500 appearances for the club after making his debut in 2003 when Kawasaki was in the second division. Nakamura also has 68 caps for the Japan National Team.

Prolific goalscorer Yoshito Okubo, in his second stint at the club, is another outlet for Kawasaki going forward. The 35-year-old lead the J-League for goals in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Okubo has experience in the Bundesliga and La Liga, as well as 60 caps for the Japan National Team.

Kengo Nakamura - Kawasaki Frontale
Kengo Nakamura

How did they qualify?

Kawasaki Frontale qualified for the Asian Champions League by winning their first ever J1 League title in 2017.

Interestingly, the only time they topped the table was after the last round of the season, pipping Kashima Antlers to the title.

What is their history in the Champions League?

2018 will be Kawasaki’s sixth Asian Champions League campaign and the first time they have qualified for consecutive tournaments following a Quarter-finals appearance in 2017.

Kawasaki was drawn in the same group as Melbourne Victory back in 2010. In the first clash in Japan, just three days after the 2010 Grand Final, Kawasaki defeated Victory 4-0.

Victory, however, turned the tables back in Melbourne, defeating Kawasaki 1-0 thanks to a Kevin Muscat penalty.

Japanese star Yu Kobayashi
Japanese star Yu Kobayashi