Guangzhou Evergrande primed for Jeonbuk
Marcello Lippi confident his side will have the sharpness to contain South Korean raiders
Guangzhou Evergrande will face familiar foes at Tianhe Stadium on Tuesday night as Marcello Lippi seeks to make the improvements necessary to ensure the club's defence of the AFC Champions League title remains on track after a lacklustre display in last week's 1-1 draw with Yokohama Marinos.
Lippi's men take on a Jeonbuk Motors side they have faced in the group stages of their two previous AFC Champions League campaigns, with Guangzhou announcing their arrival in the continental arena with a comprehensive 5-1 win over Choi Kang-hee's side two years ago when they were the champions.
Now, after a disjointed display in Japan last Wednesday, Guangzhou will be seeking to display similar form, even if Lippi remains relatively unconcerned after seeing his side notch up a second straight win in the Chinese Super League at the weekend.
"In our last AFC Champions League game we were not as good as we should be, but it doesn't mean I'm extremely unhappy," said the Italian coach. "We were not at 100 per cent of our capacity. We were probably only at 60 per cent of it."
Lippi rested several key players in the comfortable win over Harbin Yiting as he aims to keep his side as fresh as possible in what is sure to be an arduous season as Guangzhou attempt to become the first club since Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad in 2005 to successfully retain the AFC Champions League title.
"In this match we were targeting not only three points, but also making sure we prepare well for our next AFC Champions League game," said Lippi after the 4-1 victory. "Zheng Zhi and Kim Young-gwon had a good rest, while Alessandro Diamanti and Sun Xiang only played for half of the game. So we have achieved what we wanted."
The form of Brazilian striker Muriqui has been an early concern for Guangzhou so far this season, with last year's AFC Champions League MVP and top scorer struggling to regain the form that made him such a potent threat last year. Lippi, though, remains unconcerned.
"Now is not his best time but I believe he will be there in the future, given enough time," he said.