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Urawa Reds have gained an unwanted reputation for choking on the big stage in the 10 years since they first won the Asian Champions League, but that tag may have to be re-evaluated after they reclaimed the title with a series of composed performances in this year’s competition.

Urawa lifted the ACL trophy last Saturday after beating Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal 1-0 at Saitama Stadium for a 2-1 aggregate win, giving the club its second Asian title. The first, in 2007, promised to usher in an era of domestic and continental dominance for Japan’s best-supported team, but the reality turned out to be dramatically different.

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