Fabio Cannavaro – Guangzhou Evergrande 2020 Analysis

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Guangzhou Evergrande is the leader of Super League from China. The team is leaded by ex-World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro, who previsiously worked for TJ Quanjian, Al Nassr in Saudia and Al Ahli from UAE.

The lead the table but in my opinion they dont look as good as results are. And you will see why. Is far away from me to criticise the coach, but I saw details in their game who makes me think if Chinese League is stronger than an average European league.

Stating with the squad, they have some stars like Talisca(Besiktas), Paulinho(Barcelona) – their best player, Fernandinho(Chonquing Lifan star), Elkeson(Botafogo and league star). The staff is good, Cannavarro being at the second experience with GZ Evergrande and dominating the league and competing with coaches like Rafa Benitez, Cosmin Olaroiu from Suning and others.

The game analyzed was a winner, 1-0, against Rafa Benitez (1-3-4-2-1) Dalian Pro in the 12 Round.

The Kick Off – Zeman Style

The well known 2-1-7, ball back to no 10.Zhi who try a diagonal pass for one winger

Defensive Approach

GZ Evergrande 1-4-1-4-1 fluid

He started with a medium-high block, with not much pressure, 26.Talisca marking one CB of Dalian an one of CM and one winger closed the other options of pass

Cannavaro likes his team to make dead zone-active zone, sufocating the opponent in numbers and making the pitch ” short”.

One of the problems was his team doesnt have timing in pressure and his lines are broken, they arent defending as a compact unit all the time.

In midfield zone, 10.Zhi, his 40 years old interpret the role of a no.6 covering and helping fullback to create a 4×3 wider to recover the ball there, aswell the opposite winger coming inside to make the team compact.

Moments with good organisation, high line, lines short, distances are good, maybe too agressive for the quality of his players.

The Italian coaching school is also here present, any backpass of rivals they make a step forward and try to close the ball as fast as possible.

Offensive Approach

First step of build up with CB no progression, GK always short pass, FB Down with deeplying playmaker 10.Zhi finding free space and one CM 11.Xiuwei all the time offering his support for link play

One mistake by 11.Xiuwei is dropping to low and letting the team with no solution between the lines. Creating for nothing a 3×0.

He corrected later his positioning letting free one CB for progression and easily breake the first pressing line of Rafa Benitez team.

The midfield trio was fluid as well as the strikers, Cannavaro using 9.Talisca as fals 9 role (Messi) and letting the others to penetrate from second line and attack the space behind organized defence of Dalian Pro.

Very good offensive organisation, with a lot of players inside and good covering of the space. Even in minority they can create danger anytime thanks to their individual quality and mobility.

19.Fernandinho played many times as Inside forward offering himself as a continuity after 11.Xiuwei turn with the ball. Also fullback 23.Hanwen attacked very well the space created by the brasilian.

8.Paulinho is reading the game well, taking profit of the space 26.Talisca is creting for deep run, also 11.Xiuwei positioning is good but his body position no. FB are extremly offensive and can be an option for diagonal ball or penetration pass. Dalian Pro had problems ’cause they didnt close the ball faster giving time to think to any playmaker GZ Evergrande had.

When they were blocked in the middle, 11.Xiuwei acted intelligent, going down, on the side and creating 2×1 with his fullback and deblocking the buildup. Good positioning of 10.Zhi who dragged the striker out of his position and eliberating the CM.

In the box they had a good presence, 4 players ready to finish, both CM, striker and a winger.

A pattern was 26.Talisca dropping and associating himself with 8.Paulinho. In this case was a wrong decision, but they looked one for each other and made a good duo with and without the ball. Teamwork. Quality.

Also 11.Xiuwei with 10.Zhi acted as a duo, first one mantaining his rational positioning to offer to the veteran the possibility to advance with the ball unmarked and give a penetration pass.

The density in the last third was amazing, also the dynamic was good, Cannavaro created organized chaos as Barcelona did with Messi. The organisation was liquid and mantained this solid approach all the game.

They attacked Benitez central and wider. Here, central, with FB Down, a 6×5 unsuccesfull but healthy for their bad transition phase.

When they attacked wider, both fullbaks were super offensive as you can see down, attacking the space behind in diagonal and waiting a penetration pass.

Transition Negative Approach

As you can see, big problems for them, no organisation in the final third, allowing Benitez to counter attack them, especially using 17.Hamsik or his wingers with long balls wider or direct on target man. Very rare the sign (instinct) and use of counterpressing. Focusing on referee and walking.

In midfield the only midfielder who could run was 11.Xiuwei who worked hard to close the pass lines, the others were busy attacking or being bad positioned. The CB reacted well.

Many moments as this, attacking with 6 players with no real prevention or rest defence. No effort and organisation.

The goal

Was a fantastic attack, with a lot of players inside and outside, a good penetration pass for left fullback 33.Yihao who crossed on second post being under preesure. Very good covering of the goal in all areas and rebound zone. A great header produced an own goal.


Not a well deserved victory, but the quality of Cannavaro players made in the end the difference. Good offensive play, not so good defence but you can see he is working some principles. The positive transition was not important, all the time mataining possesion considering his players dont have speed(intelligent). The negative one was a disaster many times and he should do it more on trainings.

Thank you all for reading the article.

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