Everything’s set up for a grand stand set of games in the AFC Champions League R16 second legs

It was one of the best rounds of games in the AFC Champions League when the knockout stages of the 2018 season kicked off. With 7 out of the 8 ties seemingly on a knife’s edge, it promises to be another thrilling, edge-of-the-seat action in Asia.

WEST ZONE

The first game sees Persepolis welcome Al-Jazira with the latter nursing a 3-2 lead heading into the game. The first leg was decided in the sixth minute of stoppage time and if this game is half as good as the first one, we’re in for a treat. Persepolis of course, have more than just a toehold in this game as their two away goals could come in handy. Recent form and statistics suggest that Al-Jazira will concede as they are now 9 games without a clean sheet. They have also conceded first in five of their last six games.

When Al-Sadd took in Al-Ahli in their first leg encounter, the former secured a comfortable 2-1 win at home. It is on paper a decent result but the tie is still very much in the balance courtesy of the away goal scored by Muhannad Asiri. Things will get difficult for the home team if Al-Sadd continue their recent habit of scoring first and winning the first half. Al-Ahli have to be wary of a giving their opponents a quick start as they have scored 6 times in the opening quarter of an hour of games in the AFC Champions League this season.

The only tie with the result almost all but certain – Al Duhail V Al-Ain. The home team made light work on their travels last time around and returned home with a commanding 4-2 win. With the four away goals and the two-goal advantage, Ain has to win by a margin of 3 goals to secure qualification. This remains a tough ask as Ain will have to end Duhail’s 18 matches winning streak and 32 matches unbeaten streak.

Esteghal Tehran will have to overturn that 1-0 deficit when they welcome Zob Ahan in their AFC Champions League 2018 Round of 16-second leg encounter. History points to an Ahan victory as they are unbeaten in three games against their opponents and have scored in all three games. Zob Ahan will vary of losing their concentration late into the game as they conceded over half of their 8 goals in the final quarter of an hour of the game.

EAST ZONE

All things point to an exciting set of games in the West Zone of the AFC Champions League 2018 but the East Zone has no shortage of entertainment either with multiple games on knife’s edge.

Jeonbuk Hyundai through trailing 3-2 have the advantage of the two away goals, the second one scored in the dying embers of the game. While Buriram are yet to keep a clean sheet in the last three games between these two sides, they are on a three-game winning streak while Jeonbuk is winless in 3. Games involving Jeonbuk are known for drama late in the game as they have been involved in a huge 16 goals in the final 30 minutes of games this term. An exciting game on the cards where the scales could tip from one side to another with every goal scored.

Guangzhou and Tianjin Quanjian played out a goalless draw in their first leg and it is all to play for as the action now turns to the home of the seven-time champions of China. Guangzhou’s rut of form continued as they are now winless in 4 games. Pressure is already growing on Italian boss Fabio Cannavaro, who last season helmed Quanjian’s charge into the top 3 places in the Chinese Super League. Everything to play for in the second leg.

Shanghai SIPG have their work cut out against Kashima Antlers as despite controlling the game for large parts of the action, they trail by 3-1. SIPG will be hoping for their stars Oscar and Hulk to overturn the two-goal advantage. But Shanghai too are going through a bad patch of form with the port city team now winless in three games. A thrilling game on the cards should Shanghai get the early goal they so need in this tie.

Suwon trail Ulsan Hyundai by a goal to nil. Hyundai are clear favourites heading into this all-South Korean clash despite the narrow scoreline and should be expected to come through to the next round of the AFC Champions League 2018.