AFC Champions League 2020: FC Tokyo back in ACL action after 4-year absence
- The side from Tokyo qualified for the tournament by finishing 2nd in the J League last season, their best-ever finish in Japan's top-flight
After a four-year absence FC Tokyo are back in AFC Champions League action this week when they host Philippine side Ceres Negros on Tuesday evening in the final play-off match.
The winner will join Ulsan Hyundai, Shanghai Shenhua and Perth Glory in Group F in the tournament.
The side from the Japanese capital qualified for the tournament by finishing 2nd in the J League last season, their best-ever finish in Japan’s top flight.
Meanwhile Ceres Negros earned their qualification through a league and cup double and went on to overturn Myanmarian side Shan Untied and Thai FA Cup winners Port FC in the preliminary rounds.
If Tokyo manager Kenta Hasegawa is to be consistent with his approach to the pre-season warm up matches, he will have his men line up in a 4-3-3 formation for the 2020 campaign.
Strikers Diego Oliveira and Kensuke Nagai are both recovering from injuries sustained last season and are unlikely to be ready for Tuesday night.
New signing Adailton is likely to take the center forward spot with Kashima loan signing Leandro playing as a wide left sided forward.
Hasegawa may also experiment with younger talent such as Taiichi Hara and Japan U23 star Kyosuke Tagawa for this match.
Ceres are likely to field a similar side to that which beat Port FC in a shock upset last week. Winning goal scorer and captain Stephen Schrock should take his place in the right of midfield with last year’s AFC Cup top scorer Bienve Maranon spearheading attacking maneuvers.
Similarly, Ceres have favored a 4-3-3 formation in each of their preliminary matches so far. The front 3 are typically spread wide with Hikaru Minegishi and Maranon either side of target man Robert Lopez Mendy.
Whilst the Tokyo attack is somewhat unsettled at this point, their defense should be unchanged from last season.
Ceres will struggle to break them down and Tokyo will have too much quality for them to deal with going forward.