THIS is the game that every Asian Champions League campaign has when everyone clamours over the fact that an Australian side will take on some of the biggest names in world football.
But winger Kosta Barbarouses says Melbourne Victory will afford Brazilian stars Oscar and Hulk no extra respect during tonight’s clash with Shanghai SIPG in China.
Oscar made a stunning $92 million (AUD) move from English giant Chelsea to Shanghai in December 2016, following the path of Hulk, who six months earlier had made an $88 million (AUD) switch from Zenit St Petersburg.
Both midfielder Oscar, 26, and striker Hulk, 31, played key roles for Brazil at the 2014 World Cup.
Their moves to Asia made massive waves as China stepped up its muscle with audacious raids on European clubs.
For Victory, it adds extra spice.
But for Kiwi Barbarouses the star dust has worn off anyway, as he played against the pair at the 2012 Olympics.
“It’s exciting,” Barbarouses said.
“But there’s no reason to be nervous.
“Speaking for myself, I’ve had a couple of Champions League campaigns and I know when we play well we can match these guys. We’ve had some positive results over the years against teams with massive names.
“I think as a club we seem to rise to the challenge in these big games.”
The third of Shanghai’s Brazilian trio is lesser known, but no less dangerous.
And he is a familiar foe.
Elkeson has already played four times against Victory in ACL games, twice for Guangzhou Evergrande in 2014 and twice for Shanghai in 2016.
Both times Elkeson has played Victory in China he has scored and is one to be wary of tonight, especially after the 28-year-old scored the winner in SIPG’s 1-0 away win against Kawasaki Frontale last week.
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“He sort of surprises you with how hard he works defensively too,” Barbarouses said.
“Similar to Hulk, he’s a very powerful player as well and gets himself in good areas.
“The backroom staff will do all their work for the boys who aren’t too familiar with him to let them know. We know what a threat he is.
“We have our work cut out, but we’ve done our homework.”
But while the Brazilians are the headline acts, Barbarouses said it was important to look beyond them.
“We feel we can match them.
“We’ve scored goals against these guys before, so we know we can do damage going the other way.”