ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: THREE POINTS A MUST FOR WANDERERS

Tony Popovic - Western Sydney Wanderers
Tony Popovic - wary of getting caught up in the derby win.

Tonight Western Sydney Wanderers host Urawa in the Matchday One of the Asian Champions League Group Stage. Knowing that Wanderers are in an especially difficult group it is paramount that the A-League team take all three points while their Japanese opponents are still lacking match practise.

Urawa are coming off a preseason Super Cup loss to last year’s J-League Champions Kashima. The Reds were 2-nil down at half-time after Yasushi Endo scored a quickfire brace with goals in the 39th and 43rd minutes.

To their credit Urawa fought back to level at 2-2 with goals in the 74th and 75th minute courtesy of Shinzo Koroki and Yuki Muto. And despite eventually going down Reds manager Mihailo Petrovic was encouraged by the spirit his team showed, according to Andrew McKirdy at the Japan Times.

However, it’s likely that Urawa will struggle tonight given the lack of match fitness and the difference in climates at this time of year. For the home team, though it’s been a frustrating season, they’re coming off the biggest and most important win of their season. On Saturday night the Wanderers put paid to Sydney FC in a shock 1-0 win.

Western Sydney went out with an attacking midfield in their derby win including Mitch Nichols, Terry Antonis, Nico Martinez and Kearyn Baccus. Manager Popovic has erred on the cautious side though tonight with the likes of Dimas and Lustica making their way into the starting eleven.

Despite the more defensive set-up the Wanderers look great value at $2.80 underdogs. With super-sub Brendan Santalab being held in reserve along with composed midfielder Terry Antonis you would be silly to not throw a lazy $10 at the red and black.

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