Preview: Al Ittihad v Guangzhou Evergrande

This looks a home banker for the 2012 favourites against the Chinese visitors.

This looks a home banker for the 2012 favourites against the Chinese visitors.

Team: Al Ittihad

Overview: Al Ittihad might just be the favourites to take out the 2012 AFC Champions league tournament and everything about their performance thus far has been businesslike.

The Saudi Arabian giants have breezed through the group stage and round of 16 without tasting defeat and will feel like they have a point to prove after finishing the previous Saudi season in a disappointing fifth place.

Despite that, they have always been one of the most successful teams in Asia and have lifted the Champions trophy twice, back in 2004 and 2005 as well as finishing runner up in 2009.

Should they beat Guangzhou Evergrande they would be licking their lips at the prospect of a semi-final showdown with local rivals Al Ahli.

Key stat: A force in attack and defence they led the tournament in goals scored at the end of the group stage with 13 and had conceded just four goals, of the now 16 goals (post round of 16) eight different players have scored them, showing Ittihad have threats all around the park.

Big issue: Arguably the most successful club in Saudi Arabia, along with being the oldest, the silverware has dried up in recent years with the only trophy of note being won in the last couple of years being the Saudi Champions Cup in 2010.

Ittihad are fast losing ground to their biggest rivals Al Ahli and will be keen to show their dominance on the Asian stage where they have been dominant. These Tigers need to roar once again.

Key Player: Striker Naif Hazazi is considered one of the best young strikers in the Middle East and has played for the Saudi national team since the age of 19. Strong in the air, the 23-year-old is a proven goalscorer and has already netted five times in this competition.

The story so far: Group stage - def Pakhtakor 4-0, def Al Arabi 3-1, def Baniyas 1-0, drew 0-0 with Baniyas, def Pakhtakor 2-1, def Al Arabi 3-2 Round of 16 - def Piroozi Athletic 3-0

Team: Guangzhou Evergrande

Overview: If any team has shown character to get this far in the AFC Champions league then it is the current leaders of the Chinese Super League.

Their group stage was nothing if not topsy turvey, with all teams in the group turning it on some days only to be thumped the next and Guangzhou were no exceptions to that rule.

They belted Jeonbuk on day one, only to be smashed in the return leg and traded results with Thai side Buriram, but they beat them when it mattered, on the final day of competition to advance to the knockout stage and then saw off FC Tokyo with a stoic 1-0 victory.

From there the challenge they face has risen and with the might of Al Ittihad in front of them the current Chinese League leaders have a lot of work to do.

While they aren-t exactly favoured to progress things could be worse.

Domestically the team is flying high and the players are fit and still sitting top of the league, having amassed more goals than any other side, which could be considered strange for a side coached by that doyen of defensive football Marcelo Lippi, but they are getting things done and they can score goals.

Key stat: Current striker of choice Muriqui has only scored three times in this tournament; domestically he is much more prolific, he needs to lift.

Big issue: Their biggest adversary is history, the best any Chinese club had done up until now was to make the round of 16, having shattered the proverbial glass ceiling, the question remains will they be satisfied or be determined to push on.

Key Player: Both Brazilian striker Muriqui and Argentine midfielder Dario Conca are the major sources of goals for Evergrade, but it is the latter who has stamped his authority on the Champions League and continues to plunder defences in China.

Domestically he has smashed home nine goals, in the ACL he has hit five goals in six matches, making him quite the threat in attack.

The story so far: Group stage - def Jeonbuk Hyundai 5-1, def by Buriram 2-1, drew 0-0 with Kashiwa Reysol, def Kashiwa Reysol 3-1, def by Jeonbuk Hyundai 3-1, def Buriram 2-1

Round of 16 - def FC Tokyo 1-0