Preview: Gamba Osaka v Adelaide United
Adelaide has thrown everything into its Asian Champions League campaign and its efforts are starting to take their toll.
Date: Wednesday, November 5 Kick-off: 7pm local (9pm AEST) Venue: Expo '70 Commemorative Stadium, Osaka, Japan TV coverage: Fox Sports 1 (Live)
Previous results: Pohang Steelers 0 Adelaide United 2, Pohang Steelyard, March 12, 2008 Adelaide United 0 Changchun Yatai 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, March 19, 2008 Binh Duong 1 Adelaide United 2, Binh Duong Stadium, April 9 2008 Adelaide United 4 Binh Duong 1, Hindmarsh Stadium, April 23, 2008 Adelaide United 1 Pohang Steelers 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, May 7, 2008 Changchun Yatai 0 Adelaide United 0, Changchun City Stadium, May 22, 2008 Kashima Antlers 1 Adelaide United 1, Kashima City Stadium, September 17, 2008 Adelaide United 1 Kashima Antlers 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, September 24, 2008 Adelaide United 3 Bunyodkor 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, October 8, 2008 Bunyodkor 1, Adelaide United 0, MHSK Stadium, October 22, 2008
Gamba Osaka 1 Chonburi Football Club 1, Expo '70 Commemorative Stadium, March 12, 2008 Chunnam Dragons 3 Gamba Osaka 4, Gwangyang Football Stadium, March 19, 2008 Melbourne Victory 3 Gamba Osaka 4, Telstra Dome, April 9, 2008 Gamba Osaka 2 Melbourne Victory 0, Expo '70 Commemorative Stadium, April 23, 2008 Chonburi Football Club 0 Gamba Osaka 2, Supachalasai National Stadium, May 7, 2008 Gamba Osaka 1 Chunnam Dragons 1, Expo '70 Commemorative Stadium, May 21, 2008 Al Karama 1 Gamba Osaka 2, Khaled Ibn Al Waleed Stadium, September 17, 2008 Gamba Osaka 2, Al Karama 0, Expo '70 Commemorative Football Stadium, September 24, 2008 Gamba Osaka 1, Urawa Red Diamonds 1, Expo '70 Commemorative Football Stadium, October 8, 2008 Urawa Red Diamonds 1 Gamba Osaka 3, Saitama Stadium, October 22, 2008
Analysis Adelaide United has thrown everything into its Asian Champions League campaign and its efforts are starting to take their toll at the wrong end of the competition.
Goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic played with discomfort against Bunyodkor and then sat out the Hyundai A-League clashes against Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory with an ongoing groin injury. Media reports from Japan suggest he's still in pain and may miss the clash.
His replacement Mark Birighitti has impressed the club in his three Hyundai A-League games but the fact is he's kept only one clean sheet and has conceded a total of four goals in his other appearances.
After the loss against the Victory, coach Aurelio Vidmar rated Diego, who's struggling with hamstring tightness, a 70-30 chance of playing in Japan while he was even less optimistic about Paul Reid who has a groin strain. Both of these players have been considered critical in providing drive to the Reds' midfield.
Fabian Barbiero, a goal scorer in the home clash against Bunyodkor on October 8, didn't train with the main group during a Monday training session as he's recovering from a calf problem.
Even if the side does field some of these players, there's no doubting they'll be struggling to be at their best for the full 90 minutes.
The injuries do open up opportunities for other players with Kristian Sarkies and Lucas Pantelis set to make more of an impact on Wednesday.
Adelaide will also have to improve its form if its to go with Gamba Osaka on its own turf. United lost to Bunyodkor in their last AFC Champions League clash and the Victory ran over the top of them last Friday.
Their last win was against seventh-placed Perth Glory in Round 9.
It will be a matter of survival for the South Australian side who'll be hoping to field a stronger squad on the return leg on November 12.
In comparison Gamba Osaka should be fresh but hungry after its 1-3 loss to Shimizu S-Pulse in the J-League on October 25.
The team is seventh on the ladder in their tight 16-team domestic competition but have obviously been in impressive form in the ACL.
They drew with Japanese rivals Urawa Red Diamonds 1-1 in their home leg before earning a place in the final by beating them 3-1 in the second semi-final clash.
Gamba has no problem confronting physical Australian teams either, having recorded two victories over Melbourne Victory in the group stage.
They are yet to lose a game in the ACL but have had to settle for a draw at home on three occasions which should give their opposition hope.
Japanese international player Yasuhito Endo missed Gamba Osaka's last J-League game through suspension and will be jumping out of his skin to make an impact on Wednesday while Satoshi Yamaguchi and Takahiro Futagawa will provide a steady influence on the big stage, given their hundreds of games experience.
They also have Brazilian imports Lucas and Ronieliton up forward who'll keep the Reds' highly-regarded defensive unit - featuring Ang Costanzo, Sasa Ognenovski, Robbie Cornthwaite and Scott Jamieson busy.
Adelaide has been rated an underdog in most of its recent ACL clashes but have had enough depth and self belief to get over the line.
If the team's injury toll is as bad as portrayed they'll need the remaining players operating at their full potential if they are escape from Japan with a draw.