This week marks the halfway point of the 2019 AFC Champions League group stage, and standings begin to take shape as the Asian clubs enter Matchday Three.
Having bagged a single point from their past two outings, Iranian giants Persepolis and Esteghlal will be seeking to revive their chances of booking a place in the Round of 16 when facing the Saudi Arabian oppositions.
In Group D, Persepolis will play host to Saudi’s Al Ahli in Dubai’s Zabeel Stadium on Tuesday.
Jorge Fossati’s men impressed in a 2-0 win over his former employer Al Sadd in Matchday One, but then fell to a 1-0 defeat to Pakhtakor in Tashkent.
Branko Ivankovic’s men went all the way to the final last year, but they are yet to taste victory in the 2019 edition. Another defeat could further complicate their position in the group as they sit bottom of the group.
However, the Iranian champion will be hoping to build on three successive victories in the Persian Gulf Pro League – including a 1-0 triumph over archrival Esteghlal on March 30 – which have seen the Reds top the Iranian league table.
On Monday, in Group C, Esteghlal will face Al Hilal – which has won both its first two games – in Doha’s Hamad bin Khalifa Stadium in Qatar, hoping to change its fortunes as a couple of bad results have seen Winfried Schäfer’s men sit fourth in the Iranian league table – seven points adrift of Persepolis.
Additionally, Zob Ahan plays away to the UAE’s Al Wasl in Dubai in Group A.
The Isfahan-based club, currently second in the table on goal difference, was held to a goalless draw at home against Iraq’s Al Zawraa on the first day of the group stage before a late drama saw Alireza Mansourian’s side come from behind to beat Saudi’s Al Nassr 3-2 on Matchday Two.
The Emirati side had ended a seven-match winless run in the competition that dated all the way back to 2008 when it defeated Al Nassr 1-0 on the opening matchday. The heavy defeat against Al Zawraa on Matchday Two left it reeling, but the home clash against the Iranian side will offer Al Wasl the chance to stay at the heart of the qualification race.