Sport Football Marcello Lippi chasing history in Champions League

Marcello Lippi chasing history in Champions League

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Marcello Lippi and his Guangzhou Evergrande squad are potentially just 90 minutes away from making history as they host FC Seoul in the return leg of the Asian Champions League final.

Guangzhou is bidding to become the first Chinese team to win the continental title since 1990, while Lippi will on Saturday be aiming to become the first coach to win the Asian and European titles.

The Italian World Cup-winning coach guided Juventus to the UEFA Champions League title in 1996.

The first leg of the Asian final ended 2-2 at the South Korean capital last month, making Evergrande the favourite on home soil.

Lippi said he gave the Asian Champions League “a lot of importance.”

“I won the UEFA Champions League and this would be at an equal level,” said Lippi, who was appointed by the big-spending Chinese team in May 2012 with the objective of bringing continental recognition to the club.

“Not only are we talking about the tournament, but also because I’ve been with this team for two years now and I’ve seen them psychologically and physically grow, and the team is much more organised.”

The signs are good as Guangzhou’s two goals in Seoul in the first leg took the team’s tally in seven knockout games to 21.

A late equaliser from Dejan Damjanovic, Seoul’s Montenegrin international striker, salvaged a draw for the hosts in game one but the two away goals could be crucial for Guangzhou, who clinched their third successive domestic title in October.

“It is an advantage, but we still have to play the second match,” said Lippi, who took Italy to the 2006 World Cup.

“It’s not that I’m satisfied or not, but it’s a good result to go into the final game with. There’s another game and that will determine the result.”

There are other advantages for Guangzhou.

Not least the fact that this is the biggest spending club in Asian football with Lippi and three talented South American imports in Argentine playmaker Dario Conca and Brazilian stars Elkeson and Muriqui.

More than 55,000 fans are expected to pack the Tianhe Stadium in southern China, while some analysts are tipping the highest broadcasting audience for a sports event in the country this year.