The football season may just be picking up momentum in Europe but in other parts of the world, the season is coming to an end.
From the MLS Playoffs to the CAF Champions League final, the football season is getting ready for a break. It’s the same with Asian club football as the AFC Championship League final is set to take place this month.
Just like the CAF Champions League, the AFC Champions League final will be played over two legs. The competition which has been largely dominated by teams from South Korea has seen somewhat of a dramatic turn this season, with Kashima Antlers of Japan and Persepolis of Iran making it into the final.
The first leg of the final will be played at the Kashim Stadium on Saturday followed by the second a week later at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran where the new Asian champions will be crowned.
For the Japanese side, they could only manage 9 points from the possible 18 in Group H. But they still qualified out of the group albeit in second place, scoring (and also conceding) an average of one goal per game.
En route to the final, they played six games. Of those six, 5 saw over 2,5 goals, with Kashima scoring 15 goals – an average of almost 3 per game. The Japanese side has been ruthless as they aim to win the competition and represent Asia at next month’s FIFA World Club Cup.
But they’ve also been porous at the back too. In the 6 knockout games they played this season, they only managed to keep a clean sheet in two of those games.
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At the other side of this battle, the Iranians will be looking to be the third side from the country to win the title after Esteghal and PAS Tehran.
They may not be popular for scoring a lot of goals – they only managed to score eight times in the group stage. But the Iranians have a very solid defence. Throughout the group stages, no other team conceded as little as Persepolis’ three goals.
But that narrative changed in the knockout stages as 4 of their 6 games played ended with both teams scoring, something the Japanese boys will be relishing.
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It’s the first time both clubs will be facing each other in history. And with this game being a two-legged final, the numbers and records may not count for anything in this tie. What’s more?
Both sides have not lifted the Asian Champions League trophy before. So it’s the classic case of go big or go home! Both teams will be desperate. Both teams will want to use their home advantage as much as they can.
But there can only be one winner. Which of these two teams do you think will go all the way and be crowned champions of Asian club football? Share your opinion with us by leaving us your comments.