Sanfrecce Hiroshima host FC Seoul on Wednesday at the Hiroshima Athletic Stadium in an inconsequential fixture in Group F of the AFC Champions League.
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. Sanfrecce are third with six points. Buriram are last and have endured a difficult few months in the tournament with five straight defeats.
#ACL2016 | GROUP F
— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) April 20, 2016
Seoul were the far superior outfit when the sides last met back in March as they thrashed Sanfrecce 4-1.
Managed by Choi Yong-soo, the South Korean side have backed-up their unbeaten campaign on the continent with sparkling form in the K-League Classic. After eight domestic league games they find themselves at the summit of the table having won six, drawn one and lost one.
While, their last outing was a frustrating 1-1 draw with Suwon City on Saturday, Seoul will still travel to Japan with plenty of momentum on their side.
Despite having been assured of top spot in the group, Choi feels that Wednesday is a superb opportunity for his team to test themselves and improve as a collective unit.
“The game won’t affect our standing in the group, but as we are playing against a high-profile Japanese side, I hope it will be a good experience for our players,” he said.
“We have prepared well since the pre-season, and those who have joined us during the season are also doing well for us; each player has pride in the team.
“It’s difficult to get through the group stage in the ACL because of the difference in playing styles and tactics of the opponents; you must analyse each team and work out how to collect points.”
For Seoul, Adriano has been the star of the show in 2016. He tops both the AFC Champions League and the K-League Classic scoring charts with nine and six goals in each competition respectively. Muriqui of Guangzhou Evergrande has the record for most goals in one season with 13 in 2013. The Brazilian will surely have his sights set on breaking that.
While already out of the AFC Champions League, Sanfrecce will be desperate to start putting together a strong run of games to get their domestic season back on track. After nine games, they currently sit seventh in the J-League and suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss to Iwata on the weekend. It’s all too easy to forget that Hajime Moriyasu’s team won the Japanese domestic league title last season.
While Moriyasu was full praise for his opposition ahead of Wednesday, he urged his side to show no fear and to finish their campaign on a positive note.
“We couldn’t qualify for the knockout stage unfortunately, but we will do our best to win this match and make our supporters happy,” he said.
“I am going to play many of those who haven’t had a playing opportunity or those who have only had some playing time because I’d like to see what they can do.
“Seoul has high-quality individuals. On top of that, they can implement their team concept and tactics and are well organised; they have a winning mentality.”