Jeonbuk, Ulsan bring battle to continental stage in ACL quarters

Defending champions Ulsan Hyundai prevailed in the penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw with Kawasaki Frontale to march on into the AFC Champions League 2021 quarterfinals. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Ulsan Hyundai and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors are locked in an enthralling battle for the K League 1 title, but by the end of this week, only one will still be in the running to be crowned champions of Asia.

The all-South Korean affair headlines the weekend's AFC Champions League quarter-finals, which began on Saturday with compatriots Al Hilal and Al Nassr both advancing with victories over Persepolis and Al Wahda respectively -- guaranteeing Saudi Arabian representation in the final.

Then on Sunday, Pohang Steelers recorded an impressive 3-0 win over Nagoya Grampus to ensure South Korea will also definitely boast a team in this year's decider, which will take place on Nov. 27.

- Pohang down Nagoya to remain in the hunt for record fourth crown
- Al Hilal, Al Nassr set up all-Saudi Arabian semi in ACL

But the standout tie of the weekend is undoubtedly Sunday evening's final last-eight encounter.

For the past two years, Jeonbuk and Ulsan have been the biggest hitters in South Korean football and thus far, the former have enjoyed the upper hand by winning the last two K League 1 crowns.

In 2019, Ulsan narrowly lost out on goal difference while last year saw them lead the table until the penultimate round of the campaign, before they were overtaken by their fierce rivals.

The same sides are vying for top honours again this season and Ulsan currently hold a one-point lead with six games remaining. Adding further intrigue has been the draw for the ACL quarterfinals pitting them against one another.

Ulsan have arguably been the more consistent of the two teams by the finest of margins and they know what it takes to go all the way, having claimed the continental crown last year.

Nonetheless, Jeonbuk have plenty of firepower and the form guide often goes out the window in matches like this.