Lippi looks for right balance against Al Ittihad

The Guangzhou coach says his team have the ability to claw back the two-goal, first-leg deficit

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2012, 1:49am

Trailing by two goals from the first leg in Jeddah, Guangzhou Evergrande coach Marcello Lippi is preaching the importance of balance to his expensively assembled squad ahead of this evening's all-important AFC Champions League second leg clash with Al Ittihad.

The Saudi side scored twice in the last 30 minutes - including one in the final minute - of the first leg two weeks ago to inflict a 4-2 defeat on Lippi's team and place serious doubts on the Chinese Super League side's hopes of reaching the last four of Asia's continental club championship.

No Chinese side have reached the semi-finals of the competition since Shenzhen Jianlibao in 2005 and to do so against a talented side featuring the core of Al Ittihad players who have twice won the competition in the past, Lippi's team will need to pull off a remarkable result.

But the wily Italian World Cup winner, who steered Juventus to the Uefa Champions League crown in 1996, knows from his own experience that the tie is far from over.

"There are matches when you go out and lose 2-0, 3-0 or 4-0 in the away leg but anything can happen at home," said the 64-year-old. "I've had this happen a few times during my career when you go out and can turn it around, so absolutely anything can happen.

"I think we have to score goals but we also have to put all our efforts into not conceding them as well, so we will be attacking and defending as much as we can.

"We have to try to score as soon as we can but we have to balance it out and try to defend as well as we can also."

Guangzhou's attacking edge will be blunted by the continued absence of Brazilian Muriqui, winner of the Chinese Super League Player of the Year Award last year, after he failed to recover from an ankle injury picked up in the first leg.

Fatigue, too, continues to be an issue for Guangzhou, who lost their most recent Chinese Super League fixture - a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Qingdao Jonoon on Friday - but who have also progressed to the final of the Chinese FA Cup. Lippi, though, refuses to use the club's workload as an excuse for not advancing.

"An important team like ours is trying to go forward in every competition available, the AFC Champions League, the Chinese Super League and the Chinese FA Cup," he said.

"Teams can't complain when they have a game every three days; if they have a game every two days than they can complain but we have had about four days to get ready for this AFC Champions League game and we will be ready for it and we'll see what happens tomorrow."