Urawa Reds enter AFC Champions League final in search of record third crown

Urawa Reds enter AFC Champions League final in search of record third crown

Urawa Reds are already the most successful Japanese club in the history of the AFC Champions League. They’ve conquered the continent on two occasions, reigning supreme in 2007 and 2017.

Now, only 180 minutes stands between them and a third Asian championship.

Urawa advanced out of their group along with South Korea’s Daegu FC way back in April of last year, then saw their way past Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim FC, Thailand’s BG Pathum United and South Korean powerhouse Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the knockout stages to book their spot in the final.

Awaiting them in the ultimate round is a familiar foe - Al Hilal.

Urawa beat Al Hilal to win the 2017 final and then met the Saudi Arabian club again in the final of the 2019 AFC Champions League, when Al Hilal won 3-0 over two legs.

Four players from that final remain in the Reds team and Takuya Iwanami, Takahiro Sekine, Shinzo Koroki and Shusaku Nishikawa will all be seeking revenge for four years ago, but it will be a tall task. Not only did Al Hilal beat Urawa for the title in 2019, but they won again in 2021 and are the defending champions.

Urawa will have to be at their very best to win the final, but that is exactly what the Reds have been for months now.

Urawa are undefeated in their last seven league matches and 11 across all competitions, a stretch that has seen them topple league leaders Vissel Kobe, draw second second place Nagoya Grampus, hand Albirex Niigata their first loss of the season and end Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo’s unbeaten away run.

So while Al Hilal may be good, Urawa are flying high. They’ve shown they have the ability to beat anyone in Japan and are ready to prove that their excellence can play all across the continent, just like the 2007 and 2017 editions of the Reds did.

Twice before, Urawa have stood atop all of Asia. Now, they want to make it three, and to get some revenge for 2019.

Game on!