22 May 2019
Top of Group E clash between Kashima Antlers (2) and Shandong (1) Luneng that takes place at the Kashima Soccer Stadium sees the home side looking to clinch their spot in the AFC Champions League knockout phase.
Although they’ve started the competition off on the right foot, pulling off two wins in the opening three group-stage fixtures (W2, D1), the hosts have struggled to maintain the same rhythm in the last two CL outings (L2). Interestingly, both of Kashima’s losses have ended with the same 1-0 scoreline, with the Japanese side conceding goals in the final 30 minutes in both of those encounters. However, Go Oiwa’s men have netted 2+ match goals in all three of their opening CL games, but they’ve also struggled to keep a clean sheet in the process. Apart from a 2-2 draw with Shandong in their reverse fixture, all four of Kashima’s remaining games in the group stage have been settled by a narrow one-goal margin.
Meanwhile, sitting top of Group E, the visitors have already secured their place in the knockout stage as they remain the only unbeaten side in this respective group. Just like Kashima, all five of Shandong’s group-stage games have been settled by a one-goal margin or finished all square. After a slow start to the competition that has seen them play out two straight 2-2 draws, Taishan Dui have put together three triumphs, with two of them ending with the same 2-1 scoreline. Interestingly, the Chinese outfit has scored inside the opening 30 minutes on both of their previous CL road trips, with Graziano Pelle being the author of those two goals.
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