Kashima Antlers v Melbourne Victory AFC Champions League Tips, Predictions and Preview

Gary Emmerson:

Melbourne Victory will have to overcome former winners Kashima Antlers in Tuesday's qualifier if they are to make the AFC Champions League group stages.

Antlers v Victory kicks off at 10.00pm AEDT at Kashima Soccer Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports in Australia.


Match Preview

Melbourne Victory progressed to the final qualifiers for the AFC Champions League with a 5-0 win over Indonesian side Bali United in Preliminary Round 2 last week.

But a much stiffer task awaits if Victory are to reach the group stages with 2018 Asian champions Kashima Antlers the final hurdle on Tuesday.

Kashima failed to make it into the group stages directly after losing the Emperor’s Cup final to Vissel Kobe on New Year’s Day, but they get a win in their home game against Victory will see the J-League giants progress.

They will start as warm favourites to win at Kashima Soccer Stadium, where they defeated Newcastle Jets 4-1 at exactly the same stage 12 months ago.

The Antlers went on to reach the quarter-final stages of the 2019 tournament, while Victory exited at the group stage having collected just one point from six games.

On current form, this game can only go one way. Victory have suffered three straight defeats in the A-League including a 3-0 loss to Sydney FC on Saturday and are out of sorts.

A trip to an Asian giant like Kashima is not what they need, but that is what they have got and it is likely to end in disappointment.