Preview: Guangzhou Evergrande


We’re off to China for the first game in the group stages of the AFC Champions League and taking on Chinese footballing giants, Guangzhou Evergrande.

We-re off to China for the first game in the group stages of the AFC Champions League and taking on Chinese footballing giants, Guangzhou Evergrande.

It could be one of the toughest road trips in Asian Champions League football. Guangzhou Evergrande are the reigning AFC Champions League winners, having knocked off FC Seoul in the final of the 2013 competition.

Melbourne Victory v Guangzhou Evergrande will be broadcast live on Fox Sports from 11pm (AEDT) on Wednesday. Melbourne Victory will have live updates across our social media networks, plus video interviews from China in the lead up to the match which will also be posted at

World Cup winning coach, Italian Marcello Lippi, is the man in charge of one of the most, if not the most, powerful squad in Asian football.

One thing in Melbourne Victory-s favour? The Chinese Super League champions are still in pre-season and haven-t had a great deal of football just yet. But Kevin Muscat-s men will have to be at their absolute best to secure a good result.

The Coach
Lippi is no stranger to success.

The 65-year-old Italian has seen success around the world and at the highest level, even bringing home the 2006 World Cup for the Azzurri.

At club level, Lippi has led Juventus, Napoli, Atalanta and now Guangzhou Evergrande, to name just a few, and success has followed him to China.

His list of achievements is extremely impressive, having managed his various sides to a World Cup title, two Chinese Super League titles, five Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia, a Chinese FA Cup, four Italian Supercups, one UEFA Champions League trophy, an AFC Champions League, one UEFA Supercup and an Intercontinental Cup.

Key Players
On paper, Guangzhou-s squad is a scary prospect for any opponent with several foreign stars, including the recently signed Italian international, Alessandro Diamanti.

And it isn-t just the foreign players on their squad that are a daunting prospect, with many of the Chinese players in Lippi-s squad regulars in the senior Chinese national side.

Diamanti adds even more depth to a squad that made it to the semi-finals of the Club World Cup in 2013, losing out to eventual champions Bayern Munich.

The Italian attacking midfielder joined Guangzhou from Serie A side Bologna and the 30-year-old has made 17 appearances for his national side since 2010 and will be one that Leigh Broxham and Mark Milligan will be keeping close tabs on.

Brazilian Elkeson is one who regularly finds the back of the net for his side and has impressed since joining the Chinese champions in 2013.

Elkeson-s countryman, Muriqui, also knows how to score with ease. In his 86 appearances for Lippi-s side, Muriqui has scored 50 times – a strike-rate any forward would be proud of.

We could list all starting XI players and a fair few substitutes in this section, with such a strong squad for Lippi to choose from.

The Stadium
Tianhe Stadium is Guangzhou Evergrande-s home ground and has hosted some memorable matches in the past, including the final of the 1991 FIFA Women-s World Cup.

It has a capacity of 58,500 and is just 7.4km from the central business district of Guangzhou.

Guangzhou itself is located in China-s south, about 2,100km south of China’s capital Beijing.

Guangzhou Evergrande will take on Melbourne Victory on Wednesday, February 26 with kick-off at 11pm AEDT (8pm Chinese time). The match will broadcast live and exclusive on Fox Sports.

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The official match hashtags are: #GEvMV & #ACL2014