Preview: Adelaide United v Shandong Luneng
While effectively it's a dead rubber the Reds will be looking for all three points to stitch up top spot and avoid a dreaded 30-hour trip to Asia for the round of 16.
Date April 27 Kick-off(AEST):20:00 (AEST) Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide Previous Asian Champions League Appearances:
Adelaide United: Runners-up 2008, Group Stage 2007 Shandong Luneng: Quarter Finals 2005, Group Stage 2007, 2009 This Campaign
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0, Shandong Luneng 1, Big Arch Stadium, Hiroshima, February 24 Shandong Luneng 0, Adelaide United 2, Shandong Sports Centre, Jinan, March 10 Pohang Steelers 1, Shandong Luneng 0, The Steelyard, Pohang, March 24 Shandong Luneng 1, Pohang Steelers 2, Shandong Sports Centre, Jinan, March 30 Shandong Luneng 2, Sanfrecce Hiroshima 3, Shandong Sports Centre, April 13
Adelaide United: Adelaide United 1, Pohang Steelers 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide, February 24. Shandong Luneng 0, Adelaide United 2, Shandong Sports Centre, Jinan, March 10 Adelaide United 3, Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2, Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide, March 24 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1, Adelaide United 0, Big Arch Stadium, Hiroshima, March 30 Pohang Steelers 0, Adelaide United 0, The Steelyard, Pohang, April 13
Analysis: While effectively a dead rubber, with Adelaide United already guaranteed a berth in the round of 16 and Shandong just playing for pride, the Reds will be looking for all three points to stitch up top spot and avoid a dreaded 30-hour trip to Asia for the round of 16.
The permutations are endless with top spot also up for grabs in Group F, United's opponents in the one leg, knockout match.
Kashima Antlers of Japan lead the group by three points from K-League side Jeonbuk Motors with the match day six clash pitting the sides against each other in Kashima to decide top spot.
If Jeonbuk record an upset win it would mean the Korean side top the group and earn the Greens a home final while a draw or a Kashima win keeps the top two as is.
The worst possible outcome for Vidmar and his troops would be to surrender top spot to the Steelers and see Jeonbuk leapfrog Kashima to the top of Group F.
This would set up a gruelling road trip to the Greens' home ground in Jeonbuk and have United make a 400km bus trip to the stadium after touching down in the Korean capital, Seoul.
A United win is essential in earning the Reds a home final and giving the 2008 runners up every chance for a quarter final spot.
United lose Daniel Mullen, Lucas Pantelis and Adam Hughes through suspension and will be forced to reshuffle the line up while Scott Jamieson will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness after a delayed return from an unsuccessful trial with second division German club Greuther Furth. Jamieson was expected back in Adelaide on Friday but was unable to leave Europe with the continent's airports shut down due the eruption of the Icelandic volcano.
Coach Aurelio Vidmar looks set to return Michael Marrone to his favoured position of right full back in the absence of Mullen with Iain Fyfe returning from suspension, slotting back into central defence to partner Robbie Cornthwaite.
Paul Reid and Adam Griffiths get their first start of the ACL campaign in a dual central midfield holding role while Nigel Boogaard, who impressed on match day five against Pohang in place of Fyfe, appears not to have done enough to keep his place in the back four.
Vidmar has more selection headaches with Matthew Leckie looking to come back into the starting XI for the outgoing Pantelis ,while Cassio, who has been in stunning from for the Reds in the last two matches, is pushing for consecutive starts.
How the United boss will set up the left side and Cassio's inclusion will depend greatly on whether Jamieson is declared fit to play with the little Brazilian able to play both full back and further up the field as he did against Pohang.
The pocket rocket could also find himself back on the bench if Vidmar decides to play Jamieson in the back four and Leckie in a wide attacking role on the left.
With Shandong out of contention, the 'Chinese Real Madrid' will be playing for pride.
Coach Branko Ivankovic has conceded his squad is without some star players with five missing, including former Chinese national team goalkeeper Li Leilei and lively midfielder Wang Yongpo.
The Chinese powerhouse is also without and two key defenders for the match against United.
Shandong Luneng's only win in the ACL campaign came on the opening day of the tournament in a 1-0 away victory against Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
The visitors will have no doubt learnt much from the reverse fixture where United recorded an impressive 2-0 win away to Shandong on match day two.
Ivankovic has highlighted Leckie, Marcos Flores and captain Travis Dodd as the danger men but stated he will not deploy a 'man on man' tagging tactic on those players, instead playing an attractive brand of football with the undermanned squad at his disposal.
Adelaide United 1. Eugene Galekovic, 2. Robert Cornthwaite, 3. Nigel Boogard, 4. Iain Fyfe, 5. Daniel Mullen, 6. Cassio, 7. Lucas Pantelis, 9. Sergio van Dijk, 10. Adam Hughes, 12. Paul Reid, 13. Travis Dodd (Captain), 14. Scott Jamison, 15. Francesco Monteroso, 16. Inseob Shin, 17. Michael Marrone, 18. Fabian Barbiero, 19. Matthew Leckie, 20. Mark Birighitti (GK), 22. Dane Milanovic, 23. Joe Costa, 24. Marcos Flores, 25. Evan Kostopolous, 26. Perry Mitris, 27. Adam Griffiths, 28. Matthew Mullen, 29. Joel Allwright, 30. Nick Munro (GK)
Shandong Luneng 1. Li Leilei, 5. Shu Chang (Captain), 6. Zhou Hablin, 7. Cui Peng, 8.Wang Yongpo, 9. Han Peng, 11. Deng Zhuoxiang, 12. Geng Xiofeng (GK), 13. Gao Di, 14. Yuan Weiwei, 15. Zheng Zheng, 17. Wan Cheng, 18. Roda Antar, 19. Zhang Chi, 20. Wang Lian, 21. Liu Zhao, 22. Yang Cheng (GK), 23. Li Wei, 24. Lu Zheng, 25. Jiao Zhe, 26. Xia Ningning, 27. Ma Long, 28. Ma Xingyu, 29. Li Jinyu, 30. Shao Puliang (GK), Sinisa Radanovic