Japanese side Vissel Kobe and South Korea's Suwon Bluewings are set to face each other on Thursday at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Qatar in the quarter-finals of the 2020 AFC Champions League.
The two teams were in the same group in the group stage of the tournament and met as recently as last Friday in their final group game, which Suwon won to ensure their qualification to the knockout phase.
Vissel Kobe reached the last eight of Asia's premier continental club tournament by beating CSL side Shanghai SIPG in the round of 16.
Captain and midfield legend Andres Iniesta opened the scoring for Kobe in the 30th minute before Daigo Nishi's volley early in the second half ensured a comfortable 2-0 victory for the J1 League club.
Suwon Bluewings had a slightly tougher time in their round of 16 game against Yokohama Marinos.
The Korean club were trailing by a goal at halftime, before goals from Kim Tae-hwan, Kim Min-woo and Han Seok-jong completed their comeback victory.
Yokohama got one goal back in the dying minutes of the game but it wasn't enough as a Suwon rounded up a 3-2 win.
The two time previous winners of the competition are into the quarter-finals for a fourth time and are bidding for their first continental title since 2002.
Vissel Kobe vs Suwon Bluewings Head-to-Head
Vissel Kobe and Suwon Bluewings have played each other only twice in their history, both fixtures being in the same competition in the group stages.
The first group stage game between the sides was played back in February, which Vissel Kobe won 1-0 with a late Kyogo Furuhashi strike. After a long break owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the reverse fixture was played last Friday. Suwon Bluewings won the game 2-0 with qualification on the line.
Vissel Kobe form guide: W-L-L-W-L
Suwon Bluewings form guide: W-W-D-D-W
Vissel Kobe vs Suwon Bluewings Team News
Vissel Kobe manager Atsuhiro Miura will be sweating on the available of captain Andres Iniesta for Thursday's crucial fixture.
The legendary Spaniard pulled up with a thigh muscle strain and had to be replaced in the 68th minute on Monday. He is doubtful for the quarter-final.
Aside of that, Vissel Kobe have their entire squad available.
Doubtful: Andres Iniesta
Suwon Bluewings are without a couple of first-team regulars, including important players like Adam Taggart, Yeom Ki-hun and Doneil Henry.
In their absence, Kim Min-woo has risen as manager Lee Lim-saeng's talisman, creating and scoring important goals for the club including their go-ahead goal against Yokohama on Monday.
Injuries: Adam Taggart, Yeom Ki-hun, Doneil Henry
Vissel Kobe vs Suwon Bluewings 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
Suwon Bluewings predicted XI (3-5-2): Yang-Hyung Mo; Yang Sang-Min, Dae-Won Park, Jang Ho-Ik; Tae-Hwan Kim, Sang-Hyeok Park, Han Suk-Jong, Kim Min-Woo, Lee Ki-Je; Lim Sang-Hyub, Ko Seung-Beom
Vissel Kobe vs Suwon Bluewings Prediction
On paper, Vissel Kobe have a far better side with a dynamic attack and lots of firepower on the bench. However, a lot will depend on Andres Iniesta's availability for the game.
The midfield general's importance extends beyond his enormous individual quality and big match experience. His influence on the pitch has been unquantifiable in Kobe's debut campaign in Asia's top club competition.
Suwon have the recent matchup advantage, having beaten their rivals just last week. Kobe had rested many of their stars for much of the game, as they were already qualified for the knockouts.
Suwon will require their key midfield cog Kim Min-woo to be at his best again. But even so, their weak defence can still hurt them, and we expect Vissel Kobe to come out on top.
Prediction: Vissel Kobe 4-2 Suwon BluewingsPublished 08 Dec 2020, 23:06 IST