The Guangzhou that we saw defeated by Bayern Munich today was not the quick shifting, attack at all costs Guangzhou that we saw during the Asian Champions League. It’s fair to say Marcello Lippi gave the German team ample respect, and if anyone knows better than bloggers and fans, it’s the World Cup winning Lippi. He asked his Guangzhou outfit to play deep, very deep, and his plan almost worked as the teams were still locked at 0-0 after 39 minutes. But eventually a lopsided possession stat and shot count turned into goals, as French import Frank Riberry slotted one under keeper Zeng, when a clearance was muffed. On halftime it was 2-nil when Bowen Huang was pick-pocketed, dicking around at the back. The ensuing cross found Croatian import Mandzukic, and he made no mistake. It was a tough ask to expect the team to adopt a new style of play against the highest quality opponent they had faced, but Guangzhou certainly didn’t look overawed. They conceded one more time with Mario Goetze scoring from outside the box just moments after Muriqui had spurned an opportunity in the 47th minute.
Guangzhou Evergrande can hold their heads high after an exhausting season where they took the Asian club game to a new level. Down 3-nil for almost all of the second half, they never dropped their heads, with possession stats of 72% against, and 27 shots to a paltry 2, it was uncharted territory for the kings of Asia. With 2014 next on the club’s agenda Guangzhou face new challenges with little Argentine play-maker Conca departing and mooted spending sprees by their Chinese rivals.