Messi tips Barca to rule world
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.
“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.