Melbourne face old rival in Champions League

Melbourne Victory have once again been drawn to face Japanese powerhouse Gamba Osaka in the group stages of the AFC Champions League.

Melbourne Victory have once again been drawn to face Japanese powerhouse Gamba Osaka in the group stages of the AFC Champions League.

Victory finished second to Gamba Osaka in the group stage of their 2008 Champions League campaign, losing 4-3 to the Japanese giants in an epic group clash at Etihad Stadium and then 2-0 in their encounter in Osaka.

Gamba Osaka then went on to win the 2008 Champions League defeating another Hyundai A-League club, Adelaide United, in the final.

Melbourne, runners-up in the 2009-10 A-League season, and Gamba Osaka, runner-up in the J-League, have been placed in Group E alongside K-League runners-up Jeju United, who are making their first appearance in the competition, and Chinese Super League runners-up Tianjin Teda.

Sydney find themselves in Group H, with Korean FA Cup winners, the Suwon Bluewings, as well as Chinese powerhouse Shanghai Shenhua, who finished third in the Super League this year. The winners of the Japanese Emperor's Cup, which will be decided on New Year's Day, make up the group.

Both Melbourne and Sydney have avoided drawing any team which won national titles this year.

It will be Melbourne's third attempt at qualifying for the knockout stages of Asia's biggest club tournament, having fallen at the group stage in 2008 and 2010, while it will be the first time Sydney have participated in the tournament since 2007.

Melbourne Victory fixture: Tues, March 1 - Gamba Osaka (Japan) v Melbourne Victory, Expo 170 Stadium, Osaka Tues, March 15 - Melbourne Victory v Jeju United (Korea) Docklands Stadium, Melb. Tues, April 5 - Tianjin Teda (China) v Melbourne Victory, Tianjin Teda Football Stadium Wed, April 20 Tianjin Teda v Melbourne Victory v Docklands Stadium, Melb. Wed, May 4 Melbourne Victory v Gamba Osaka, Docklands Stadium, Melb. Wed, May 11 Jeju United v Melbourne Victory, Jeju World Cup Stadium

Sydney FC fixture: Wed, March 2 - Sydney FC v Suwon Samsung Bluewings (Kor), Sydney Football Stadium Wed, March 16 - Emperors Cup Winner (Japan) v Sydney FC, TBC Wed, April 6 - Sydney FC v Shanghai Shenhua (China), Sydney Football Stadium Tues, April 19 - Shanghai Shenhua v Sydney FC, Honh Kou Stadium, Shanghai Tues, May 3 - Sydney FC v Suwon Samsung Bluewings, Suwon World Cup Stadium Tues, May 10 Sydney FC v Emperors Cup Winner, Sydney Football Stadium