Who's on course and who's in trouble at halfway stage of AFC Champions League 2022 East Zone group stage?

Johor Darul Ta'zim and Kawasaki Frontale are two teams who remain very much in the hunt to qualify for the Round of 16 of AFC Champions League 2022. Photo by How Foo Yeen/Getty Images

As the group stage of AFC Champions League 2022's East Zone reaches its halfway stage, things are starting to take shape.

There is still however plenty to play for with three games remaining and none of the 20 teams in this half of the tournament officially out of the running just yet.

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Adding to an already intriguing competition format, which sees the winners and three best-placed runners-up in each zone qualifying for the Round of 16, is the fact that Group J only has three teams due to Shanghai Port's withdrawal.

This means that -- in the ranking of the second-placed teams in the East Zone - results against the bottom side will not be taken into account. (To simplify matters, a runner-up side with at least two wins against the first and third-placed teams is likely to have done enough to advance.)

Ahead of match day four, which begins on Monday, we take a closer look at the teams tracking well and those who are in a precarious position in each of the groups.

Group F: Daegu - 6 pts; Urawa Red Diamonds - 6 pts; Lion City Sailors - 4 pts; Shandong Taishan - 1 pt

Group F was thrown into disarray last time out with Lion City Sailors surprisingly held to a 0-0 draw by an understrength Shandong Taishan, while Daegu ended Urawa Red Diamonds' perfect start by beating them 1-0.

The Sailors might lose to Urawa again but they will be confident in their prospects of claiming a second win over Daegu in the final match day, with the South Korean outfit looking dangerously inconsistent.

Despite that loss to Daegu, the Reds are the most accomplished side out of this quartet, and should get the job done as group winners.

Halfway mark prediction: Urawa to finish top with the Sailors just doing enough to reach the Round of 16 as one of the best runners-up.

Group G: BG Pathum United - 7 pts; Melbourne City - 7 pts; Jeonnam Dragons - 3 pts; United City - 0 pts

It is shaping up as a two-horse race in Group G with Jeonnam Dragons and United City just looking a little out of their depth.

The guaranteed berth will likely be decided in the rematch between frontrunners BG Pathum United and Melbourne City, but a spot as one of the best runners-up is still definitely within reach for the losers of that tie.

Barring a miraculous revival by Jeonnam.

Halfway mark prediction: Both BG Pathum United and Melbourne City to march on into the Round of 16.

Group H: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors - 7 pts; Yokohama F. Marinos - 6 pts; Sydney FC - 2 pts; Hoang Anh Gia Lai - 1 pt

Two sides expected to be legitimate contenders lead the way expectedly in Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Yokohama F. Marinos, but it is the former who have the edge after claiming a 1-0 win over their Group H rivals on match day 2.

Although Jeonbuk are yet to fire on all cylinders, they boast plenty of experience competing at this level while Marinos do look like a team are sorely missing the quality players they have lost in recent times such as Daizen Maeda and Ado Onaiwu.

While it is still possible for both Sydney FC and Hoang Anh Gia Lai to qualify, they have probably left themselves with too much too do in the remaining three rounds.

Halfway mark prediction: As things stand, Jeonbuk and Marinos look poised to battle it out for that guaranteed top spot but the latter have not been impressive. Jeonbuk to be the only team to qualify from Group H, with Marinos set to drop costly points along the way.

Group I: Johor Darul Ta'zim - 7 pts; Kawasaki Frontale - 5 pts; Ulsan Hyundai - 4 pts; Guangzhou - 0 pts

Despite it initially seeming like Johor Darul Ta'zim had found themselves in a "Group of Death", the Malaysia Super League champions currently lead the way following a series of impressive results -- including a monumental 2-1 win over 2020 champions Ulsan Hyundai.

JDT must now do all they can to avoid defeat against Kawasaki Frontale on Saturday, which will ensure they remain on top heading into an extremely winnable fifth outing against Guangzhou.

The rematch between Frontale and Ulsan -- with the first encounter ending in a 1-1 draw -- is now looming as pivotal in deciding who gives themselves a chance by finishing in the top two. An undermanned Guangzhou are as good as eliminated.

Halfway mark prediction: Between two giants, one from Frontale and Ulsan is likely to miss out -- and maybe even both. An admittedly bold call: only JDT to advance from this group.

Group J: Vissel Kobe - 6 pts; Kitchee - 3 pts; Chiangrai United - 0 pts

For all their domestic woes, having yet to claim a win in ten games of the new J1 League season, Vissel Kobe have found form on the continental stage and sit pretty on top of the group after two consecutive wins.

They can extend their lead further with victory over Chiangrai United on Monday, which will keep their fate in their own hands in their final game against Kitchee.

Kitchee are very much in with a shout having beaten Chiangrai in the opening round. A repeat on match day 5 should be enough to secure a maiden appearance in the knockout stages for the Hong Kong outfit.

Halfway mark prediction: Vissel to comfortably finish top, with Kitchee doing enough to advance by claiming a second win over Chiangrai.