No easy win

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Agadir, Morocco

Bay­ern Mu­nich coach Pep Guardi­ola says he has no in­ten­tion of tak­ing the Club World Cup lightly as his Euro­pean cham­pion pre­pares to face China’s Guangzhou Ever­grande in the semi­fi­nals.

Bay­ern Mu­nich coach Pep Guardi­ola says he has no in­ten­tion of tak­ing the Club World Cup lightly as his Euro­pean cham­pion pre­pares to face China’s Guangzhou Ever­grande in the semi­fi­nals on Tues­day.

Guardi­ola has al­ready en­joyed a glit­ter­ing coach­ing ca­reer and is the only boss to have al­ready won this com­pe­ti­tion twice, with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.

And even though his team comes into the com­pe­ti­tion as the over­whelm­ing fa­vorite, the Cata­lan is not tak­ing any­thing for granted.

“This tour­na­ment is very im­por­tant, very pres­ti­gious. It’s not easy to qual­ify for it, or win it,” he said.

“There are only two matches, the semi­fi­nal and the fi­nal, and sim­ply put, we have to win them.

“You don’t have the good for­tune to take part in this com­pe­ti­tion very of­ten in your life as a pro­fes­sional foot­baller and I’d like to ex­press my grat­i­tude to the team and (pre­de­ces­sor) Juup Heynckes be­cause thanks to them I am here to­day.”

Al­though he has won the Cham­pi­ons League twice, the Span­ish ti­tle three times and even man­aged a tre­ble in­clud­ing the Span­ish Cup in his first sea­son as a coach, Guardi­ola will not be the se­nior fig­ure on the side­lines on Tues­day.

Op­po­site him will be Ital­ian 2006 World Cup-win­ning coach Mar­cello Lippi, who reap­peared in China last year af­ter a two-year hia­tus fol­low­ing his sec­ond — and un­suc­cess­ful — spell in charge of the Az­zurri.

For all Guardi­ola has won, he can­not yet match Lippi, who led Ju­ven­tus to the 1996 Cham­pi­ons League crown and five Serie A ti­tles be­fore do­ing the league and cup dou­ble with Guangzhou in his first sea­son, with a league and Asian Cham­pi­ons League dou­ble in 2013.

Yet Lippi him­self has been im­pressed with the younger coach’s ca­reer so far.

“Guardi­ola is an in­tel­li­gent and ca­pa­ble per­son. We’ve seen what he’s done with Barcelona and Bay­ern; he’s changed teams but kept on win­ning,” said the 65-year-old.

“He’s brought with him his phi­los­o­phy of play, slowly but with as­sur­ance.”

Lippi knows his team, the first Chi­nese par­tic­i­pant in the com­pe­ti­tion, has lit­tle chance of up­set­ting the odds, even sug­gest­ing it only has a one per­cent pos­si­bil­ity.

“We’re go­ing to play against one of the best teams in the world. When you play a match against a team like this, out of 100 matches you lose 99 but you can win one and I hope that will be the next one. “You never know.” If Bay­ern does win the tour­na­ment it would be its fifth tro­phy of the year, hav­ing won the tre­ble of Cham­pi­ons League, Bun­desliga and Ger­man Cup back in May and then added the Euro­pean Su­per Cup in Au­gust.

How­ever, it lost out to Borus­sia Dort­mund in the Ger­man Su­per­cup so will not be able to match the achieve­ments of Guardi­ola’s Barcelona squad in 2009.

Even so, Bay­ern’s French winger Franck Ribery, who is on the three-man short­list for the Bal­lon d’Or, along­side the hold­ers of the tro­phy the last five years in Lionel Messi ( 2009- 2012) and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo ( 2008), wants to fin­ish the cal­en­dar year on a pos­i­tive note.

“It’s been a good year for ev­ery­one at Bay­ern. Now we’ve got two matches left be­fore go­ing on hol­i­day,” said Ribery, re­fer­ring to the Ger­man League win­ter break.

“We’re here to play well, be se­ri­ous and win the cham­pi­onship tro­phy.”

The win­ners will face ei­ther Atletico Mineiro of Brazil or host Raja Casablanca in Satur­day’s fi­nal.

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