Guangzhou face tough task without Diamanti
Evergande have to overcome the loss of injured playmaker for their away clash in Melbourne
Three points against Melbourne Victory on Tuesday evening will take Guangzhou Evergrande into the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League, but Marcello Lippi's soccer side will have to secure the win without Italy international Alessandro Diamanti.
The 29-year-old, the club's high-profile close-season signing, did not travel to Australia for the game due to injury, and is one of several big-name absences that will force Lippi into a rethink for the group G clash.
Diamanti is the club's top scorer in the AFC Champions League this season, having found the back of the net on three occasions, while fellow forward Gao Lin is also out after picking up a second yellow card of the group stages in the loss to Jeonbuk Motors last time out.
"Of course, we didn't expect this kind of injury [to Diamanti], but we're going to try our best to perform well. For sure we will make some adjustments, but we are ready," said Lippi.
Guangzhou cannot afford any slip-ups after the loss to Jeonbuk and Lippi knows his team face a difficult challenge against a Melbourne side that led by two goals in their earlier encounter in the competition before Diamanti inspired a comeback.
"After our match in Guangzhou, I also watched the other group matches of Melbourne Victory so I know this team," said Lippi.
"Melbourne are well-organised and a good team with players with good individual skill, so we will have to perform at our best to achieve victory."
With Diamanti and Gao both sidelined, the onus will fall on Brazilian duo Elkeson and Muriqui to deliver against Melbourne. Both were instrumental in Guangzhou's AFC Champions League historic title win last year, but neither has shown similar form this year.
"Muriqui has had some injury trouble but he's going to be ready for this match," said Lippi, whose side moved back to the top of the Chinese Super League on Friday with a comfortable 5-2 win over Tianjin Teda.
"We've only just started the new season. We're a bit late in our preparation compared to other teams and have suffered a few injuries, which explains our form at the beginning, but it's OK.
"I want to achieve the same result as last year: win the Chinese league and win the AFC Champions League."