2019 AFC Champions League draw preview

The Group Stage draw for the 2019 AFC Champions League will take place in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 22 November at 7:30pm AEDT.

Melbourne Victory has qualified directly into the Group Stage as 2018 Hyundai A-League Champions.

We take a look at some of the teams that Victory could face in 2019.

Direct Group Stage qualifiers

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (K1 League champions)

A team Victory has some Champions League history with, having clashed with Jeonbuk in the 2014 Group Stage and the 2016 Round of 16. In 2014, goals from Nick Ansell and Kosta Barbarouses helped Victory to a 2-2 draw against Jeonbuk in Melbourne, before a goalless draw in Korea. In 2016, when Victory qualified for the Knockout Stage for the first time, it was drawn to face Jeonbuk once again. A 1-1 draw in Melbourne meant the tie was evenly poised heading into the second leg in Korea, where Jeonbuk prevailed 2-1 to progress to the Quarter-Finals. Jeonbuk has secured direct Group Stage qualification by winning the K1 League.

Shanghai SIPG (Chinese Super League champions)

A recent Champions League opponent of Victory's, star-studded Shanghai SIPG has secured direct Group Stage qualification by winning the Chinese Super League. Melbourne was drawn with SIPG in the Group Stages in both 2016 and 2018 and on both occasions the Chinese side topped the group. Victory, however, managed to defeat Shanghai at home in both campaigns.

WATCH: Jai Ingham scores winner against SIPG in 2018

Guangzhou Evergrande (Chinese Super League runners up)

Victory faced Guangzhou in the Group Stage of the 2014 Champions League, suffering a 4-2 loss away on Match Day 1 before making amends on Match Day 4 with a 2-0 win at home. The Chinese powerhouse currently has Paulinho, on loan from Barcelona, in its squad. Guangzhou has secured direct Group Stage qualification by finishing second in the Chinese Super League. 

Kawasaki Frontale (2018 J1 League champions)

Melbourne has been drawn with Kawasaki Frontale in the Group Stage twice before, in 2010 and 2018. Victory has a decent record against Frontale, winning two, drawing one and losing one across the two campaigns. Kawasaki has secured direct Group Stage qualification by finishing winning in the J1 League. 

WATCH: Kosta Barbarouses scores winner against Frontale in 2018

Buriram United (Thai League 1 champions)

If Victory is drawn with Buriram, it would be the first time it has faced Thai opposition in the Champions League since 2008 when it clashed with Chonburi in the Group Stage. Buriram secured direct Group Stage qualification by winning the Thai League 1 for the seventh time in 2018. 

Johor Darul Ta'zim (2018 Malaysia Super League champions)

New ground could be broken if Johor is drawn into Melbourne's group as Victory has never faced Malaysian opposition in the Champions League. Johor secured direct Group Stage qualification by winning the Malaysian Super League for the fifth time in a row. Former Socceroo Alistair Edwards currently works as Technical Director at the Malaysian club.

Possible direct Group Stage qualifiers

Ulsan Hyundai (possible K1 League runners up or Korean FA Cup winners)

A more recent Champions League opponent for Victory, who faced Ulsan in the 2018 Group Stage. The two sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in Melbourne, before Victory suffered a disappointing 6-2 loss on Match Day 5 when a place in the Knockout Stages was on the line. Ulsan can secure direct Group Stage qualification by finishing second in the K1 League or by winning the Korean FA Cup. If Ulsan fails to win the Cup or finish second, it will fall into the play-offs.

WATCH: Rhys Williams scores against Ulsan Hyundai in 2018

Gyeongnam FC (possible K1 League runners up)

With two rounds to go in the 2018 K1 League, Gyeongnam currently sits in second position which would guarantee direct Group Stage qualification. It would be the first time the club has qualified for the ACL in its 12-year history, however should Gyeongnam fail to finish second, it will fall into the play-offs. 

Daegu FC (possible Korean FA Cup winners) 

Daegu can secure direct Group Stage qualification by winning the Korean FA Cup. It faces Ulsan Hyundai over two legs in the final and presents a golden opportunity for Daegu to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in its history.

Shandong Luneng (possible Chinese FA Cup winners)

Shandong can secure direct Group Stage qualification by winning the Chinese FA Cup, it faces Beijing Guoan over two legs in the final. Luneng has played in the Champions League eight times before, but never crossed paths with Melbourne Victory.

Beijing Guoan (possible Chinese FA Cup winners)

Beijing can secure direct Group Stage qualification by winning the Chinese FA Cup, it faces Shandong Luneng over two legs in the final. Victory and Beijing clashed in the 2010 edition of the Champions League. A Joel Griffiths winner at home on Match Day 1 secured the points for Beijing before the two sides played out a goalless draw on Match Day 4.

Emperor's Cup winner (TBC)

By the time the draw takes place, the Emperor's Cup semi-finalists will be locked in. As things currently stand Urawa Red Diamonds, Vegalta Sendai and Montedio Yamagata are in the semis while Kashima Antlers and Ventforet Kofu will battle it out on Wednesday for the last spot in the final four.

Possible Group Stage qualifiers through play-offs

Chiangrai United (Thailand)
Bangkok United (Thailand)
J1 League second/third/fourth place (TBC)
K1 League third/fourth place (TBC)
Perak (Malaysia)
Kitchee (Hong Kong)
Ha Noi (Vietnam)
Ceres-Negros (Philippines)
Yangon United (Myanmar)
Indonesia champions (TBC)