Group G winners Vissel Kobe will face Group H runner-ups Shanghai SIPG on Monday at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha in a AFC Champions League round of 16 knockout match.
The knockout stages are usually played in the traditional home-and-away two-legged format, but owing to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, they are being played as a single-elimination tournament in Qatar.
However, the Japanese side faced defeat in their final group game on Friday at the hands of Suwon Bluewings.
The South Korean side meant business as they needed a win to qualify for the knockout stage, and created many more chances despite having considerably less possession. They converted two of the goalscoring opportunities to win 2-0.
Shanghai SIPG had to settle for a runner-up place in Group H after losing their final two group games against Syndey FC and Jeonbuk.
The Chinese side's form in November is a cause for concern. They conceded six goals in those two games and sneaked narrow wins earlier in the group stage to qualify for the knockout round.
Early last month, Shanghai SIPG also had to settle for fourth place in the CSL after having finished the league stage of the tournament on top of their group.
Vissel Kobe vs Shanghai SIPG Head-to-Head
The round of 16 AFC Champions League Clash between Vissel Kobe and Shanghai SIPG will be the first-ever meeting between the two clubs in their history.
Vissel Kobe form guide: L-L-W-L-L
Shanghai SIPG form guide: L-L-W-L-W
Vissel Kobe vs Shanghai SIPG Team News
Vissel Kobe manager Atsuhiro Miura has his entire squad available for the knockout stages. Midfield legend Andres Iniesta played the first half against Suwon and has had enough rest to be fresh for Monday's game.
Kobe's top scorers Kyogo Furuhashi and Douglas played in the second half on Friday and could start together if Noriaki Fujimoto is benched.
Shanghai SIPG will be without injured goalkeeper Junling Yan and have to continue with second-choice keeper Wei Chen.
Vítor Pereira decided to completely rest star player Oscar in the last group stage game. He will be counting on the Brazilian to deliver on Monday with fresh legs. Former Brighton player Aaron Mooy was also left out for the game against Jeonbuk and should be fresh for the Vissel Kobe clash.
Injured: Junling Yan
Vissel Kobe vs Shanghai SIPG Predicted Lineup
Vissel Kobe predicted XI (3-1-4-2): Daiya Maekawa; Tetsushi Yamakawa, Ryuho Kikuchi, Thomas Vermaelen; Hotaru Yamaguchi; Daigo Nishi, Gotoku Sakai, Yuta Goke, Andres Iniesta; Kyogo Furuhashi, Douglas
Shanghai SIPG Predicted XI (4-4-2): Wei Chen; Fu Huan, Wei Zhen, He Guan, Wang Shenchao; Ricardo Lopes Pereira, Oscar, Aaron Mooy, Wenjun Lu; Hulk, Li Shenglong
Vissel Kobe vs Shanghai SIPG Prediction
Both Vissel Kobe and Shanghai SIPG have been in pretty inconsistent form lately. That makes the game both exciting and quite difficult to predict.
Captain Andres Iniesta's vast big-game experience should come in handy for Kobe. They also have enough goalscoring firepower in Furuhashi, Douglas and Fujimoto to trouble their Chinese opponents.
SIPG have big-game stars of their own in Brazilians Oscar and Hulk, but their experience pales in comparison to Iniesta. If their defensive woes continue, they will face a serious challenge in outscoring Kobe.
It is difficult to confidently predict a clear winner in this game, but we are tipping Vissel Kobe to come out on top.
Prediction: Vissel Kobe 3-1 Shanghai SIPGPublished 05 Dec 2020, 23:31 IST