Preview: Melbourne Victory v Gamba Osaka
Melbourne need all three points here if they are to be any hope of progressing.
Date: Wednesday May 4 Kick-off: 7:30pm AEST Venue: Docklands Stadium Television: Live and exclusive on Fox Sports
Head-to-head Played 3. Wins: Gamba Osaka 3
Road to the ACL Melbourne Victory: 2010 A-League runners-up Gamba Osaka: 2010 J-League runners-up
History These teams have already met once this campaign with Melbourne suffering a heavy defeat in Osaka on March 1, shipping three goals in the first 12 minutes en route to a 5-1 defeat. In the aftermath of the match, long-time coach Ernie Merrick left the club.
Past five matches: Melbourne Victory: ACL: Melbourne Victory 2, Tianjin Teda 1, Docklands ACL: Tianjin Teda 1, Melbourne Victory 1, Tianjin ACL: Melbourne Victory 1, Jeju United 2, Docklands ACL: Gamba Osaka 5, Melbourne Victory 1, Osaka HAL: Gold Coast United 1, Melbourne Victory 0, Skilled Park
Gamba Osaka: JL: Gamba Osaka, Montedio Yamagata, Expo 70 Stadium JL: Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4, Gamba Osaka 1, Hiroshima ACL: Gamba Osaka 3, Jeju United 1, Expo 70 Stadium ACL: Jeju United 1, Gamba Osaka 1, Jeju ACL: Tianjin Teda 2, Gamba Osaka 1, Tianjin
Selection Melbourne have had to make some interesting changes ahead of this match with three players suspended, Grant Brebner, Robbie Kruse and Surat Sukha. Danny Allsopp is the logical replacement for Kruse, while Ferreira can replace Sukha, but what happens with Brebner's replacement is interesting.
Rody Vargas will come in, with the logical path through being that Adrian Leijer moves into a holding midfield role, but that didn't work that last time these two teams met and Leijer has indicated coach Mehmet Durakovic has other ideas.
Gamba Osaka coach Akira Nishino has talked up having a full strength side for this match and most of his best XI played in the J-League 3-2 win on the weekend.
Danger Man Archie Thompson - Archie is still getting back his sharpness after a 12-month period blighted by injury and Victory will rely on his attacking skills to get the points here.
Adriano - The big Brazilian is coming off a brace on the weekend and caused plenty of headaches the last time these two teams met. Has scored six goals in his last seven matches.
At the end of the day Melbourne need all three points here if they are to be any hope of progressing. That means they will need to play with an attacking mindset, which could prove difficult against a side with as many quality players as Gamba Osaka.
Gamba boast a strong defence, combined with a quick and agile midfield, with plenty of strength up front. They were the best attacking side in the J-League last year and having taken apart Melbourne once this campaign, they will be confident of taking their own giant step towards the knockout stages with a win here.
Melbourne's best hope is to stick to their formation and not be pulled apart by the rapid ball movement of the Japanese team. The slightest bit of disorganisation will offer weak points for Gamba Osaka to attack. That may reduce the amount of attacking opportunities, which will put more pressure on those up front to make the most of their chances.
Hernandez's strength from the dead ball was sorely missed in the trip to Japan in May and his contribution will be valuable along with Thompson and Allsopp.
It will take some of Melbourne's best work to get the three points here, but you can bet in Kevin Muscat's final game on home soil, they will be trying their heart out to get the right result.
Squads Melbourne Victory: 1. Michael Petkovic (GK), 2. Kevin Muscat, 4. Petar Franjic, 5. Surat Sukha, 6. Leigh Broxham, 7. Matthew Kemp, 8. Grant Brebner, 10. Archie Thompson, 11. Marvin Angulo, 12. Rody Vargas, 13. Diogo Ferreira, 14 Billy Celeski, 15. Tom Pondeljak, 16. Carlos Hernandez, 17. Matthew Foschini, 18. Danny Allsopp, 19. Isaka Cernak, 20. Sebastian Mattei (GK), 21. Robbie Kruse, 23. Adrian Leijer, 24. Luke Pilkington, 25. Luke O'Dea, 26. Nick Ansell, 27. James Jeggo, 30. Tando Velaphi (GK)
Gamba Osaka 1. Yosuke Fujigaya, 2. Sota Nakazawa, 3. Kim Jong-Ya, 4. Kazumichi Takagi, 5. Satoshi Yamaguchi (vice-captain), 6. Takumi Shimohira, 7. Yasuhito Endo, 8. Hayato Sasaki, 9. Adriano, 10. Takahiro Futagawa, 11. Takashi Usami, 13. Kim Seung-Yong, 14. Shoki Hirai, 15. Hiroki Fujiharu, 16. Shohei Otsuka, 17. Tomokazu Myojin (captain), 18. Shota Kawanishi, 19. Kohei Kawata, 21. Akira Kaji, 22. Lee Keun-Ho, 23. Takuya Takei, 24. Kenta Hoshihara, 25. Shigeru Yokotani, 26. Yoichi Futori, 27. Hideo Hashimoto, 28. Shunya Suganuma, 29. Atsushi Kimura, 30. Tatsuya Uchida, 31. Kotaro Omori