Nagoya Grampus are the last remaining J.League club in the AFC Champions League and on Sunday they will carry that flag to the Republic of Korea for their quarterfinal clash with Pohang Steelers.
This quarter-final tie will be a rematch of the group stage, where Nagoya beat Steelers, 3-0, before the two sides battled to a 1-1 draw when Grampus had already clinched first place. It was a dominant group-stage performance for the Japanese side and as they get ready to play Steelers again, they have even more reason to be confident.
When Grampus and Pohang met in the group stage, Jakub Świerczok had not yet joined Nagoya, but he scored a hat trick in the Round of 16 and now gives his side another fearsome attacking player to add to the likes of Mateus and Ryogo Yamasaki, who have also had a brilliant tournament.
While Nagoya have plenty of reason to believe, it will not be easy. Pohang are three-time AFC Champions League winners, defeated Cerezo Osaka in the last round away from home, and this is a single quarter-final match in Korea. Such is the difficult challenge standing between this terrific Grampus team and a semi-final berth.