ACL Preview: City v Zhejiang

One of the biggest City matches in recent memory is ahead this Tuesday night as we look to seal progression to the AFC Champions League knockout stages for the first time in Club history.

Here are a few of the key factors that will decide the contest!

All full-season City Members will go free to Tuesday night’s match at Princes Park! Check your emails for details on how to redeem your ticket via Ticketbooth.

Continuing the form

It may’ve been a slow start to the season but we’ve been able to turn things around with some promising form over recent weeks.

While ultimately we didn’t come away with the three points, our most recent ACL fixture almost a fortnight ago against Ventforet Kofu saw a strong performance from your City boys in Tokyo.

Callum Talbot, Tolgay Arslan and Marin Jakolis were all on the scoresheet in a 3-3 draw which on the balance of play, could’ve easily been a win.

Image: AFC Champions League

We took that form home domestically and have now recorded back-to-back wins, first in Newcastle and most recently on Friday in Perth.

Mathew Leckie marked his return to the starting XI with a thumping second half header which would turn out to be the winner.

Should our City boys put in another similar performance to what we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks, Tuesday could well be a night to remember at Princes Park.

Match fitness

We come into Tuesday night’s contest with plenty of match minutes in our legs after a heavy recent schedule.

Having returned from Perth on Saturday morning, we’ve had a couple of busy days to ensure we’re fully prepared for this pivotal final Group Stage match.

The same can’t be said for our opponents, who haven’t played a domestic fixture since early November following the conclusion of the Chinese Super League.

Zhejiang were last on the pitch two weeks ago where they defeated Buriram United 3-2 at home in their most recent ACL match.

The form lines also make for some interesting reading heading into this one… Zhejiang has lost both away ACL fixtures by a scoreline of 4-1, but our form in home matches hasn’t been super impressive either; only collecting one point from our previous two games.

The reverse fixture was a positive result for us though, securing a 2-1 away win thanks to early goals from Aziz Behich and Max Caputo.

Keeping it in our own hands

While there are plenty of permutations on the final matchday that are out of hands, Aurelio Vidmar will want his side solely focused on what we can control.

A win on Tuesday would take us to 11 points and as all the relevant head-to-head tiebreakers are equal with Kofu given our two draws, we could only be knocked off top spot if they were to defeat Buriram away from home.

Should we win by the same margin, Kofu would be 1st as they’ve currently scored one more goal than us but if we were to win on Tuesday by exactly a goal more than the Japanese outfit, it would then come down to disciplinary records. A win by a 2+ greater margin than a potential Kofu win would see us top the group.

Should results not fall our way we could still seal qualification to the knockouts as one of the three top second-placed teams in the East Region, but we’d then be relying on other results to go our way.

Match Details

AFC Champions League: Matchday 6

Melbourne City FC v Zhejiang Professional

Tuesday 12 December, 8:30pm KO

Princes Park, Carlton


Feature Image: AFC Champions League