Messi tips Barca to rule world

Midweek Sport - - TV GUIDE - By FRANK MCCAULEY

LIONEL MESSI in­sists Barcelona can match their feat of two years ago in adding the Club World Cup to their Cham­pi­ons League and La Liga ti­tles.

In 2009, the FIFA club tro­phy was the ic­ing on the cake for an all-con­quer­ing Barcelona side.

This year Barca are one tro­phy down on 2009, hav­ing lost the Copa del Rey to Real Madrid – and they face se­ri­ous op­po­si­tion in the Club World Cup in Ja­pan from San­tos, fi­nally emerg­ing from the shad­ows of the Pele-led side of the 1960s.

The South Amer­i­can cham­pi­ons also boast a new foot­balling su­per­star in Ney­mar, but Messi is con­fi­dent Barcelona can tri­umph again.

The Ar­gentina wiz­ard said: “We’re al­ways un­der the obli­ga­tion to win. To my mind it’s a re­ally im­por­tant tour­na­ment and we’ll try to come out on top, just as we al­ways do.

Cool

“We can’t af­ford to re­lax ei­ther. Ev­ery­one thought the two favourites were go­ing to reach the fi­nal last time and In­ter­na­cional of Brazil fell short.

“We know what we’re ca­pa­ble of and how far we can go. We’ve got a lot of games to get through and it’s never easy to play one match af­ter the other and main­tain top form.

“We’re stay­ing cool, calm and col­lected, and no­body knows what this team’s ca­pa­ble of bet­ter than we do.”

San­tos won back-to­back In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Cups in 1962 and 1963 and 19-year-old Ney­mar has al­ready caught the eye of Barcelona mid­fielder Xavi.

“Ney­mar is very tal­ented and has amaz­ing abil­ity,” said Xavi.

“He seems like a player des­tined to make a dif­fer­ence for any side he plays for.”

The open­ing match of the tour­na­ment is on Thurs­day, when host na­tion side Kashiwa Reysol take on New Zealand’s Auck­land City in Nagoya.

The win­ners meet Mon­ter­rey of Mex­ico in the quar­ter-fi­nals and the vic­tor in that will face San­tos in the semi­fi­nals.

In the other quar­ter­fi­nal Qatar side Al Sadd, the Asian Cham­pi­ons League win­ners, will meet African cham­pi­ons Esper­ance from Tu­nisia.

The vic­tors go on to meet Barcelona for a place in the fi­nal.

WIN­NER:

Messi

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