Guangzhou Evergrande are looking to make home advantage count in Tuesday’s AFC Champions League clash with the Kashima Antlers.
The two teams last met in the group stages of this competition back in 2015, when Evergrande recorded a 4-3 victory at home before losing 2-1 on their visit to Japan, but the Chinese side went on to finish top of the group and win the competition, while Kashima were dumped out at the group stages.
The Southern China Tigers enter the match in good form having won their last six matches in the Chinese Super League, putting them top of the standings and slightly ahead of Shanghai SIPG in second place.
The Antlers, on the other hand, have suffered back-to-back defeats in recent matches, which has seen them fall down to sixth place in the J1 League standings, albeit just four points off the pace from league leaders Gamba Osaka.
Guangzhou, as two time winners of the competition, will be the favourites to progress, but that will depend on the performance of their expensive imports such as Colombian striker Jackson Martinez and the Brazilian midfield duo of Paulinho and Alan.
While Kashima also have a few Brazilians in their ranks, they will have to rely on domestic stars like young striker Yuma Suzuki.
While the Japanese side are capable of an upset after playing their part in a seven-goal thriller on their last visit to the Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou midfielder Huang Bowen insists that his side can claim their third AFC Champions League title if they play to the best of their ability.
“Our target is always to be champions because we have a very strong team, so to be Asian champions is our goal,” Huang told The AFC’s website.
“We won both championships because of how we worked as a team. The biggest challenge for us is ourselves. If we play to the best of our ability then we have no challengers. ”