Asian Leagues Review: Japan and Korea Seasons Begin as ACL Enters Final Stages

Last Updated on April 19, 2024

We’re into the final stages of the AFC Champions League and as of this week, we are down to just 4 final teams. On the East side of the tournament, Yokohama F Marinos reached the semi finals of Asia’s most prestigious club competition with a 3-1 aggregate win over Shandong Taishan of China. Following a 2-1 win last week in China, Yokohama were on the ropes somewhat having been reduced to ten men early in the second half with the scores level, but were still able to deliver the goal that saw them record a fourth consecutive win over the Chinese side as they enter the semis for the first time in their history. Ulsan, Champions League winners in 2012 and 2020, made it through with a 2-1 aggregate win over fellow Korean Jeonbuk, with a 1-0 home win in midweek enough to see them progress.

Four time champions Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia won both their quarter final ties 2-0 against compatriots Al Ittihad, to ensure they progressed to the semis, and in the process, set a new world record for consecutive victories for a top flight team as they recorded their 28th consecutive win in midweek, eclipsing Welsh side The New Saints’ record of 27 set back in 2016. They could have met fellow Saudi side Al Nassr, but an enthralling tie against UAE side Al Ain ended 4-3 on the night and 4-4 on aggregate, and although he scored his spot kick, Cristiano Ronaldo’s side lost out on penalties on the night.

In other football news, the Japanese J League is back and remarkably no side in the entire division had a 100% record after gameweek 2. It promises to be an exciting season with no clear favourite as Vissel Kobe look to defend their first ever title that they picked up from last season. The number of teams in the division increased from 18 to 20, with Machida Zelvia (who return to J1 after 7 seasons), Jubilo Iwata (who were promoted again at the first attempt) and Tokyo Verdy (returning to J1 after 16 years) entering the fray.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who currently sit atop the table after three games, are the small favourites to win the division this time around, but Vissel Kobe, Yokohama F Marinos and Kawasaki Frontale are certainly in the running. Keep an eye on further updates for even more sports betting tips and match previews.

There are only a half dozen games left in the regular season of the Australian A League, and it looks like the top two positions are going to be filled by defending champions Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix who both sit on 40 points, 6 points clear of 3rd placed Melbourne Victory. Victory are in fact the favourites to win the Grand Final according to the football odds compilers and bookies, who are looking to win the title for the first time since 2018. Wellington are yet to ever win the A League Grand Final.

And finally, Jesse Lingard fever is taking over Seoul; after announcing a two year deal to join the Korean giants, FC Seoul’s attendance in their season opening against Incheon saw a record attendance of 51,670 packing the World Cup Stadium in Seoul. A fan park, dubbed ‘The Lingard Zone’ has been set up where merchandise only based on the former Manchester United and Nottingham Forest player is on sale. FC Seoul have gained a point from their opening two games without scoring a goal yet.

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