Guangzhou Evergrande - FC Tokyo Preview: First Asian Champions League encounter for Lippi awaits
The two attack-oriented squads will vie for a spot in the ACL quarter-finals in what is expected to be yet another tense encounter between Chinese and Japanese clubs
By Dan Orlowitz
Zhang Linpeng, Feng Xiaoting, Zheng Zhi, Sun Xiang
Cho Won-Hee, Zhao Xuri, Qin Sheng
Gao Lin, Cleo, Conca
Ishikawa, Kajiyama, Lucas
Newly-installed Guangzhou Evergrande manager Marcello Lippi will have a challenging match on his hands when his side hosts ACL debutants FC Tokyo on Wednesday night. Guangzhou Tianhe is expected to be packed with supporters dressed in the club's traditional red for the encounter, but ironically this may put the team under more pressure; Evergrande lost two group stage matches at home. Defensive concentration will also be key for the hosts as centre-back Zheng Zhi has made his share of howlers in the last two matches.
Meanwhile, Ranko Popovic has the tough task of guiding his Tokyo squad to the quarter-finals in their first ACL appearance. The capital city club have flourished under his leadership, going unbeaten in the last four league matches. The high-flying Evergrande attack will provide one of the biggest challenges yet for Tokyo in the competition, and Popovic has experimented in recent matches with a reshuffling of his back line.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Guangzhou Evergrande are the last remaining Chinese Super League (CSL) club in the competition
- The reigning CSL champions replaced former manager Lee Jan-Soo with Lippi despite finishing first in the group stage and leading the league.
- Dortmund star Lucas Barrios will join Evergrande later this summer.
- FC Tokyo's league form (sixth place after 12 matches played with one game in hand) is the best of the J-League's four ACL entrants.
- The club spent last season in the second division, but earned an ACL berth after winning the 2011 Emperor's Cup on New Year's Day.
- Shuichi Gonda and Hideto Takahashi (pictured right) both received call-ups for Japan's upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Oman, Jordan, and Australia.
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Top 3 Predictions
Guangzhou Evergrande 1-2 F.C. Tokyo
- 14.11 %
Guangzhou Evergrande 0-2 F.C. Tokyo
- 10.43 %
Guangzhou Evergrande 0-1 F.C. Tokyo
- 9.82 %
|Asian Champions League (ACL)||May 30, 2012||Guangzhou Evergrande 1 - F.C. Tokyo 0|
|Dec 17, 2013||Guangzhou Evergrande 0 - FC Bayern München 3||CWC|
|Dec 14, 2013||Guangzhou Evergrande 2 - Al-Ahly SC 0||CWC|
|Nov 9, 2013||Guangzhou Evergrande 1 - FC Seoul 1||ACL|
|Oct 26, 2013||FC Seoul 2 - Guangzhou Evergrande 2||ACL|
|Oct 2, 2013||Guangzhou Evergrande 4 - Kashiwa Reysol 0||ACL|
The 23-year-old defender earned praise from his new manager this week when Lippi favorably compared him to Sergio Ramos. Capable of patrolling the perimeter or controlling the centre, Linpeng is also an attacking threat and must be treated with caution.
Watanabe has mostly been used as a super-sub this season but earned a starting role on Saturday after his Round 12 hat-trick against Sagan Tosu. The former Marinos man could be the needed spark for a Tokyo that that sometimes has trouble finding creativity in front of the goal.
Evergrande have the star coach and the high-priced roster; Tokyo have dedication to their manager's system and players who aren't afraid to hold their ground in a hostile environment. If there's one ACL match capable of going into extra time it's this one; after that it's anyone's game to win.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed