Victory's Chinese task doesn't faze Muscat

Paulinho will be a dangerman for Guangzhou Evergrande in their ACL clash with Melbourne Victory.
Paulinho will be a dangerman for Guangzhou Evergrande in their ACL clash with Melbourne Victory.

Melbourne Victory will start rank outsiders against Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday night, but know the unlikely prize of a win in China could ignite their Asian Champions League campaign.

Victory have touched down in the southern Chinese city, putting aside their almost-catastrophic Saturday night at the SCG behind them.

Against Sydney FC, Kevin Muscat's side conceded a last-minute goal to lose 2-1 to their domestic rivals and, likely, kiss goodbye the chance of a second-placed A-League finish.

The news that Terry Antonis has avoided serious injury and a fresh new challenge has given Muscat and his side the chance to turn the page quickly.

"Naturally (we are underdogs)," he said.

"They're at home. They're expecting a massive crowd. And that's exciting for us as well.

"The calibre of players, it's by no means going to be an easy feat but it's a great opportunity for us.

"It's a really good opportunity to perform well and get something out of the game."

Victory have lost their opening two matches of the competition, to Daegu FC of South Korea and Sanfrecce Hiroshima of Japan, and need to win to have a realistic chance of progression.

Victory have history at Guangzhou's Tianhe Stadium after facing Evergrande in their 2014 campaign.

Muscat's side took an unlikely 2-0 lead into halftime after goals from Chilean defender Pablo Contreras and utility Leigh Broxham.

Victory were blown away after halftime, shipping four including a brace to Italian Alessandro Diamanti to lose 4-2.

The two-time Asian champions have only increased their quality since that meeting, and are now led by Brazilian international Paulinho, signed for a reported $65 million from Spanish powerhouse Barcelona.

Evergrande have started their domestic season with four straight wins and are yet to concede a goal.

Combine their pedigree with hot conditions, a long travel schedule and missing players like Antonis, and the scale of the challenge becomes clear.

"That's the reality, the beauty of this competition," Muscat said.

"All these things you get thrown up against and it's just something else we're going to have to overcome.

"We'll take it in our stride and put our best foot forward."

Victory will also be missing Raul Baena (hamstring) and Georg Niedermeier (ineligible), with Lawrence Thomas to undergo a last-minute fitness test.

Australian Associated Press