Melbourne City FC will be in search of a back-to-back AFC Champions League wins when it takes on South Korean outfit Jeonnam Dragons on Matchday 3.
The fixture, set to be played in the early hours of Friday morning, could prove pivotal to City’s prospects of escaping the group stage, with the team likely to remain atop Group G having played each opposition team once if it can secure victory against the Dragons.
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Excitement will undoubtedly continue to be at a high in our inaugural ACL campaign, so here’s what you should be watching out for ahead of our third group stage fixture:
The big hitters to come back in – and hit big
Rested for City’s 3-0 win over United City, it appears as though Mathew Leckie, Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout could be set for a return to the starting lineup to face Jeonnam on Friday.
City’s high-profile Socceroo front three bring with them an enormous reputation, but it’ll be important for the trio to live up to that billing and make an impact in front of goal against our Korean opposition.
City hasn’t converted chances with its usual clinical edge so far in our inaugural AFC Champions League campaign, so it’ll be vital that the return of our all-star front three brings with it genuine goal threat rather than just perceived danger.
How will PK manage the balancing act?
On the topic of squad management, it will be interesting to see how Patrick Kisnorbo elects to manage the balancing act of an individual’s recent performances vs their fitness.
Marco Tilio is a prime example of this after an assist on Matchday 1 and a brace on Matchday 2, with the youngster arguably our player of the tournament so far.
His early substitution against United City might suggest that Kisnorbo will hope to see his good form continue with another start against Jeonnam, but as the competition progresses and other players come into form, it will be interesting to see how the City Head Coach continues to navigate this dilemma.
A hierarchy to emerge
By the end of the night’s action, every team in Group G will have faced one another, with three sets of match results set to serve as the basis of an early hierarchy halfway through the group stage.
By that point, players and fans will likely have at least an idea of the results needed throughout the second set of matches that would see us through to the knockout stages, as well as which opposition team stands out as the one that we really need to take points from in our second meeting.
Regardless of results elsewhere, we want to be making sure that it’s City at the top of that mid-group stage hierarchy, and we’ll achieve that with another comprehensive win against Jeonnam on Friday morning.