Preview: Newcastle Jets v Beijing Guoan
Newcastle currently sits bottom of Group E, but with just two points separating the bottom three teams, the Jets are still a very good chance of progressing.
Date: Wednesday May 6 Kick-off (AEST): 8:00pm AEST Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium, TV coverage: Fox Sports 3 (Live)
Results so far: Newcastle: Beijing Guoan 2 Newcastle Jets 0, Beijing Workers Stadium, March 10 Newcastle Jets 2, Ulsan Hyundai 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium, March 17 Nagoya Grampus 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Mizho Athletic Stadium, April 7 Newcastle Jets 0, Nagoya Grampus 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium, April 22
Beijing Gouan: Beijing Guoan 2 Newcastle Jets 0, Beijing Workers Stadium, March 10 Nagoya Grampus 0, Beijing Guoan 0, Mizuho Athletic Stadium, March 17 Ulsan Hyundai 1, Beijing Guoan 0, Ulsan Munsu Stadium, April 7 Beijing Guoan 0, Ulsan Hyundai 1, Beijing Workers Stadium, April 22
Analysis: Newcastle currently sits bottom of Group E, but with just two points separating the bottom three teams, the Jets are still a very good chance of progressing.
But they need three points in this week's home match against Beijing Guoan, who have struggled since winning their opening match against the Jets in Beijing. Both teams are on four points, trailing a suddenly in-form Ulsan Hyundai by two points. The Tigers play Nagoya Grampus (on eight points) in the other game in Japan, and a win to the K-League side will make it hard for either of the combatants in the game in Newcastle to get through.
They will know the result of the other match before kick-off with the Japan fixture set to finish about 90 minutes before this one starts.
Newcastle performed reasonably well against Nagoya in its two most recent matches but managed just one point from those matches. The loss in the April 22 match against the J-League leaders was particularly hard on the Jets, who played well but missed a raft of opportunities.
Fabio Vignaroli looked very dangerous for 30 minutes, but suffered a hamstring injury and will miss the rest of the campaign while Marko Jesic will also miss but Ljubo Milicevic and Adam D'Apuzzo should be back from suspension.
Sasho Petrovski, scorer of two of the Jets three goals for the campaign, should start after coming off the bench in the last game.
At least the Jets won't have to keep former Newcastle glamour boy Joel Griffiths in check. He is serving a suspension, and won't play in this match. Brother Ryan Griffiths, who scored against the Jets in their match in March, should play.
He came on as a substitute in the 0-0 draw with Mark Milligan's Shanghai Shenhua on the weekend. That result leaves Beijing, third in the CSL last year, eighth and without a win in their past four. Beijing has not scored in its previous three CSL matches, or its previous three ACL matches.
Beijing has left behind seven of the players it fielded in the Chinese league at the weekend but coach Lee Jang-soo is confident that his team loses little despite the absentees.
With that in mind, the Jets have an excellent opportunity to get a vital three points and re-invigorate their campaign. Then they have the challenge of going to Korea for the final group match against Ulsan, knowing a win could well be good enough to get them through to the final 16.