It’s been an eventful weekend. Save for the absence of business as usual in the Premier League, it was a good weekend, with goals in Germany and drama in Italy. As you prepare to enter a new week, the fun is not about to stop as there are plenty of exciting sporting action to enjoy this new week.
No, we’re not talking about the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. That doesn’t kick off until the next week. This week however, amongst other exciting sporting events to take place, will witness the beginning of a new AFC Champions League season.
For the 32 teams involved this term, the race to the final in November kicks off this week as teams jostle for points and a chance to finish top of their group. Being a continental competition, there isn’t much difference between the Asian version of the Champions League and the one being played in Europe.
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Okay, one is more popular than the other. However, the similarities remain the same as both competitions are governed by the same rules. As the competition kicks off, the best of Asian club football will be looking to impress their dominance on others as the game progresses. One of those clubs is Al-Hilal.
Boasting the likes of Befetimbi Gomis and Sebastian Giovinco, the Saudi Arabian side was crowned champions of the competition last year after winning the two-legged final against Urawa. As they start off a new campaign, they’ll have to find a way past their Iranian opponent in the form of Shahr Khodro FC.
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That’s just one of the many games that will be played across Asia this week. However, no thanks to the Corona virus, not all teams will get a chance to kick off their AFC Champions League campaign this week. The Asian Football Confederation has taken measures to limit the threat of the virus to its teams in the competition.
Chinese clubs who qualified for the AFC Champions League group stage games will have their first three group games postponed. Instead of playing this month, the likes of Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG (last season quarter-finalists) will have their games rearranged for April and May, later this year.
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This will, as a ripple effect, affect the clubs they’re supposed to play their opening games against. It will also make the race for qualification from some certain groups hard to predict. Regardless, the competition will continue as planned, with games set to played in countries like Japan, Australia and even Qatar.