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Soccer-Lippi faces biggest challenge in his time with Guangzhou

Reuters

By Brian Homewood

AGADIR, Morocco, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Having swept all before him as coach of Guangzhou Evergrande, Marcello Lippi faces one of the biggest challenges of his career on Tuesday when the champions of Asia take on Bayern Munich in the Club World Cup.

The Italian coach is determined to make life as difficult as possible for the European champions, whose players said on Monday they know little about the Chinese team, in their semi-final despite a huge gulf in class.

"Bayern are now the best team in the world and this makes it very exciting. We never thought we would have a chance of playing a game of this level," Lippi told reporters.

"It's a chance to measure ourselves, to really see how far we have come. We will try to find a way of making sure the better team doesn't win so easily."

Lippi said the golden rule for his players was not to repeat the defensive errors that went unpunished in Saturday's 2-0 quarter-final win over Al Ahli.

"Nobody must make a mistake like the ones we made last time," he said. "If we make those mistakes tomorrow we will pay a very high price."

Lippi's Chinese adventure is the latest chapter in a remarkable coaching career that began with him doing the rounds of lower league Italian clubs in the mid-1980s.

He went on to win five Serie A crowns in two separate stints with Juventus and the Champions League.

WORLD CUP

Lippi also led Italy to their 2006 World Cup title triumph and returned for a second go four years later when they went out in the group stages.

He threw his hat into the ring with Guangzhou in May last year, won the league and cup double in his first campaign before leading them to another league title plus the Asian Champions League this season.

Lippi now finds himself in the rare position of underdog.

"As I said before we will be realistic in this situation," he said. "It's nice to have enthusiasm but we also have to be realistic, they are much stronger than us and we have to play with humility.

"We must try to neutralise their numerous weapons and try to use ours.

"I think the word catenaccio has become a little misrepresented," he added, referring to the term used to describe the notoriously negative tactics adopted by Italian sides in the past.

"But, if by catenaccio you mean playing a good defensive game against strong opponents, then it's necessary. We can't just go rushing on to the attack." (Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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