ACL Preview: Contrasting approaches for Sydney and Victory before Big Blue showdown

This could be the toughest week of the season for both Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory.

The two rivals meet in an epic Big Blue Semi-Final on Sunday but must first navigate intimidating ventures to South Korea in the 2019 AFC Champions League.

How will both sides approach their midweek commitments ahead of the weekend’s do-or-die clash in Kogarah?

Here’s the full run down of both AFC Champions League fixtures.

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TOTW: Who joins Toivonen in the Team of the Week?

Big Blue
Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory return to Kogarah for Sunday's semi final

O’Neill calls Sydney to back themselves in Ulsan

Sydney FC must avoid defeat at all costs against Group H leaders Ulsan Hyundai on Tuesday evening in order to keep their hopes of progression alive (kick-off 8pm AEST).

The Sky Blues are bottom of Group H ahead of the match with the K-League giants, two points off second-placed Shanghai East Asia (in action against Kawasaki Frontale at the same time) and a further five behind the group pacesetters.

It means Steve Corica’s will likely need to win to give themselves a good shot of progression, aided by the return of left-back Michael Zullo, who has missed the club’s previous four matches with a hamstring injury.

Midfielder Brandon O’Neill believes his teammates can take great confidence from their four matches previous, in which they have registered three draws and a loss.

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Sydney FC midfielder Brandon O'Neill was on the scoresheet in the Sky Blues 2-2 draw with Shanghai SIPG on Tuesday April 23

“I think we’ve deserved a lot more out of the games and probably deserved to win them,” O’Neill said.

“We just have to back ourselves, bring the game to them, play with no fear and just enjoy ourselves.”

Ulsan are currently second in the K League and host Sydney on the back of a 2-1 defeat to Pohang Steelers on Saturday.

The two teams played out an entertaining 0-0 stalemate on match day one back in March.

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When do they get back in Australia?

Sydney FC are set to touch down on Thursday morning.

How it stands – Group H

Opta Widget: ALeague

Victory focus on securing Grand Final ticket

Melbourne Victory’s trip to Daegu is a dead-rubber for Kevin Muscat’s side after match day four’s 1-1 draw with Guangzhou Evergrande.

And the Victory boss is set to rotate accordingly.

The Australian reports that Keisuke Honda, Ola Toivonen, Kosta Barbarouses, Georg Niedermeier, James Troisi Raul Baena and Terry Antonis have all been left behind as Muscat has one eye on Sunday’s huge semi-final clash with the Sky Blues.

REPORT: Toivonen stars as Victory send Phoenix packing
WIN: 
A signed Keisuke Honda jersey

Toivonen
Rested: Ola Toivonen and Kosta Barbarouses have not travelled to South Korea, according to The Australian

When do they get back in Australia?

Victory are due to arrive back in the country on Friday morning.

How it stands – Group F

Opta Widget: ALeague