Immovable Persepolis defence meets unstoppable Ulsan attack in AFC Champions League final

The Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar will witness the 39th final of Asia's top-tier club football competition this Saturday as Iran's Persepolis FC take on South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai FC in the title showdown of AFC Champions League 2020.

Persepolis will be playing in an ACL final for the second time in three seasons as they look to win their first AFC Champions League title, while this is the furthest Ulsan have progressed in the competition since winning the tournament in 2012.

With the season coming to a conclusion in Qatar this week, we explore the strengths and weakness of the two sides that are left in contention to ascend to the Asian throne.

- Lak, Junior, Yoon and the players that could decide the ACL final
- How Persepolis and Ulsan Hyundai reached ACL final
- Full AFC Champions League Table

Persepolis bank on sturdy defence, but where will the goals come from?

Persepolis go into the final looking to became the first team from Iran to win a continental trophy since 1993, when the now-defunct PAS Tehran FC won the Asian Club Championship by defeating Saudi Arabia's Al Shabab FC in Bahrain.

The Iranian champions' title hopes will rely on goalkeeper Hamed Lak and a solid defence that only allowed six goals in nine ACL matches this season and just one in the three knockout ties.

Centre-backs Shoja Khalilzadeh and Hossein Kanaanizadegan, along with full-backs Saeid Aghaei and Siamak Nemati, have kept things tight at the back in the latter stages of the tournament, while striker Issa Alekasir did the bulk of the work upfront netting five of their 12 goals.

However, an exodus of key players and a six-month suspension to Alekasir have left Persepolis weakened especially in attack. Towering defender Khalilzadeh, perhaps the most vital cog in the Red Army's defence, left following the semifinals win to join Qatar's Al Rayyan SC.

Alekasir's ban will further weaken an offence that already lost Ali Alipour to Portugal's CS Maritimo and Mehdi Torabi to Qatar's Al Arabi SC in recent months. Mehdi Abdi is expected to step in for Alekasir as Persepolis look to nullify Ulsan with their strong midfield, featuring Ahmad Nourollahi, Vahid Amiri and Bashar Resan, and sneak a historic win.

Ulsan look invincible, but will they squander another title shot?

Ulsan have been the complete package in AFC Champions League this season and are on an eight-match winning run since landing in Qatar last month -- brushing aside Australia's Melbourne Victory, China's Beijing Guoan FC and Japan's Vissel Kobe FC on their road to the final.

Only one victory away from becoming the fourth club from their country to be crowned continental champions twice, Ulsan's 2020 campaign is built on a well-balanced side. They feature a defence led by Dutch centre-back Dave Bulthuis, a midfield anchored by Yoon Bit-garam and Kim In-sung, and an attack led by the prolific Junior Negrao.

Junior has registered five goals in the competition, including a brace in the quarterfinals and a last-gasp winner in the last-four clash. Bjorn Johnsen, meanwhile, has scored the same number of goals mostly coming off the bench while Yoon is a threat from dead balls and can create for his teammates. Ulsan's defence, meanwhile, can be supremely confident playing behind excellent custodian Jo Su-huk.

Ulsan, however, have been in this position before. Being on the brink of lifting the silverware only to give it all away has been a recurring theme for them during the 2020 season. Kim Do-hoon's side suffered double heartbreak, losing the Korean FA Cup final to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors last month while also bottling a title challenge in the K League 1.

All eyes will be on the Ulsan Tigers as the world watches to find out whether the South Koreans can get third-time lucky when they face the team from Tehran in their biggest match of the season.