Preview: Buriram United vs Shandong Luneng

Buriram United host Shandong Luneng at Buriram Stadium in a dead rubber in Group F of the AFC Champions League on Wednesday.

Regardless of the outcome of all round six matches in Group F, the teams will finish in the positions they currently occupy.

FC Seoul will advance in pole position having accumulated 13 points thus far in the campaign.

Shandong, who have 10 points, are assured of second. Hiroshima are third with six points, while Buriram are at the foot of the standings after losing all five of their matches.

While Shandong cruised past Buriram 3-0 when the sides last met back in March, the latter will take great heart from their recent form in the Thai Premier League, where they have won four of their last five games, including a 2-0 triumph over BBCU in an impressive display of total football on Saturday. Consequently, they are currently just two points off the pace of leaders Bangkok United.

On the contrary, Shandong have endured a torrid few weeks in the Chinese Super League. After their 3-2 defeat at the hands of Guangzhou R&F on Friday, they have now only recorded one win in five league games.

A break from the league will be welcomed by Mano Menezes’ men and while they have already qualified for the next round of the AFC Champions League, they will be out to stop the rot on Wednesday.

“Even though we have qualified to the next round this game is still very important to us,” said Shandong assistant coach Sidnei Lobo who will travel with the team in Menezes’ absence after the latter was overcome by illness.

“Coming to Thailand this time we do not bring our main players but every players we bring are all rising stars and have experienced important games.

“We also have a very well prepared (gameplan) so that we can guarantee that we will give our best.”

Similarly, Buriram Coach Alexandre Gama was equally adamant that his side would approach the game as a must-win, highlighting that Buriram are representing Thailand and adding that the team should be looking to score at least three goals.

“Even though we have already been eliminated from the AFC Champions League this game is still important as it is our last game in the competition,” said Gama.

“In this match we will play for the name of Thailand and the name of Buriram United and our goal for this game is to score three times.

“We have changed our tactic from three defenders at the back to four because at the beginning of the season we didn’t play very well. We also had a lot of injured and suspended players. However, I believe we will get better soon.”

As Shandong have only taken a group of Chinese players to Thailand, they will miss Diego Tardelli who has netted three times in Asia this year. Wang Yongpo, who has scored twice in the Super League, will need to step up in the Brazilian’s absence.