ACL preview: Jeonbuk Motors v Melbourne Victory
Played: 1, Wins: Victory 0, Jeonbuk 0, Draws: 1
Victory 2-2 Jeonbuk, March 12 2014
Past five matches (in all competitions):
Group G is poised fascinatingly going into the final matchday. All four teams are on seven points each, with Melbourne Victory sitting third due to their goal difference of zero. Guangzhou Evergrande and Jeonbuk are first and second respectively, both with a goal difference of plus one. Yokohama F Marinos, on negative two, are fourth. The equation is simple for Victory - win the game in Korea and advance to the round of 16, regardless of the result in the other match between Evergrande and Marinos in China.
The big issue:
Jeonbuk – The hosts must be wary of Victory's pace in attack, particularly on the counter, which was how Kevin Muscat's team equalised through Kosta Barbarouses late in the teams' first meeting at Etihad Stadium in March. A Jeonbuk defence which includes former Central Coast Mariner Alex Wilkinson may have to drop deep to prevent Victory's pacy forwards getting in behind and to discourage the visitors from playing quick balls over the top.
Victory – The biggest challenge for Muscat and his coaches in recent weeks but more important now than ever is team selection. Inspirational captain Mark Milligan is suspended for this game, while Guilherme Finkler, the match-winner in Friday's elimination final against Sydney FC, is ineligible. James Troisi and Barbarouses played their third game in seven days against the Sky Blues and could be rested on Tuesday, with Connor Pain, Andrew Nabbout and Jesse Makarounas all likely to come into the starting XI. Archie Thompson should back up from Friday's game and play again, having missed the 2-0 win at home to Evergrande last Tuesday due to a family bereavement.
The game breaker:
Having been dropped earlier this season, goalkeeper Nathan Coe has been in brilliant form since returning to the Victory starting XI, and produced some crucial saves to deny both Evergrande and Sydney in the last two games. Victory are likely to find themselves under pressure in such a vital game away from home, and the last line of defence may well be tested extensively again. More heroics may be required for the club's Asian adventure to continue.
Prediction: Jeonbuk 2-1 Victory
Muscat's side have defied expectations to still be alive in the ACL while also progressing in the A-League finals, but their excessive workload may finally catch up with them against a team sitting second in the K-League and still fresh at the start of their season. Victory's less experienced players were unable to handle Marinos away from home on matchday four and, unfortunately, we're tipping them for a painful stumble at the final hurdle of the group stage.