Preview: Nagoya Grampus v Newcastle Jets
Newcastle's Asian odyssey takes the Jets to Japan this week and a clash against Nagoya Grampus, one of the most improved teams in the J-League in recent years.
Nagoya Grampus v Newcastle Jets Date: Tuesday April 7 Kick-off (AEST): 7.00pm local, 8:00pm AEST Venue: Mizuho Athletic Stadium, Nagoya TV coverage: Fox Sports (Live)
Results so far: Nagoya: Ulsan Hyundai 1, Nagoya Grampus 3, Ulsan Mansu Stadium, March 10 Nagoya Grampus 0, Beijing Guoan 0, Mizuho Athletic Stadium, March 17
Newcastle: Beijing Guoan 2 Newcastle Jets 0, Beijing Workers Stadium, March 10 Newcastle Jets 2, Ulsan Hyundai 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium, March 17
Analysis: Newcastle's Asian odyssey takes the Jets to Japan this week and a clash against Nagoya Grampus, one of the most improved teams in the J-League in recent years. Coached by their former legendary player Serbian Dragan Stojkovic, Grampus finished third last season, qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since it changed format.
Both teams have managed to secure wins over Korean side Ulsan Hyundai in the first two rounds with Grampus defeating the Tigers away in the first round, while a double from Sasho Petrovski comfortably got the Jets home 2-0 in their most recent match.
That win was a very important one for Gary van Egmond's men after a first-up loss to Beijing Guoan in China and they are now in third, one point from the top two. The back-to-back matches against Grampus, this one away, and the next one at home, will be vital to their hopes of making the top two and getting through to the knockout rounds
They will likely go into this match without Italian recruit Fabio Vignaroli, who has a hamstring injury. Adam Griffiths (hamstring) and Marko Jesic (ankle) are expected to be fit while defender Ljubo Milicevic is back in the fold after spending some time away from the club in the past fortnight.
The other major change will see Ben Kennedy take up the goalkeeping position with Ante Covic heading off to Europe to play with Swedish club Elfborg.
Van Egmond has indicated that he wants his players to run out the 90 minutes strongly, indicating he may go for a young and fit line-up and won't be taking any risks on players who may be carrying injuries.
Nagoya is coming off a 3-1 loss to Kawasaki Frontale on the weekend, its first loss for the J-League season. Stojkovic blamed the defeat on an inability to keep possession of the ball in the midfield and that's something Newcastle will be looking to exploit.
Known for their proficiency from the dead-ball and from crosses, Nagoya relies heavily on Brazilians Magnum and Devi for goalscoring. Their other attacking weapon is Japanese national striker Keiji Tamada, who played against Australia in the recent World Cup qualifier in Yokohama.
Veteran stopper Seigo Narazaki, who has 64 caps to his name, is one of the most highly regarded keepers in the country and played in the recent 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Bahrain.
With so much talent at their disposal at either end of the pitch, Grampus would appear to hold favouritism in this clash. But Newcastle showed in its most recent games that it can get the job done, and with Vignaroli unlikely to play, the role of Petrovski will be crucial. The Jets will need to score goals to get a point, which would be a fantastic result against away against such an imposing team.