AFC Champions League winners Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao are out to make history at the Club World Cup, looking to become the first ever Asian club to make the final.
The Chinese Super League champions are arguably the strongest ever team from Asia to compete in the tournament, but face a tough quarter-final test in CONCACAF Champions League winners America.
Guangzhou are led by World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and boast the likes of Paulinho, Robinho, Elkeson and Ricardo Goulart in their squad.
Paulinho, who was bought from Tottenham for €14million, was part of the Corinthians squad that upset Chelsea in the final in 2012.
But the midfielder knows their quarter-final against America will be a tough game first up.
“This is obviously the second time for me at the FIFA Club World Cup and I’m very happy to be back playing at this tournament again,” the Brazilian told FIFA.com.
“I want to meet Barcelona here but, for now, all we have to focus on is training well for our first match.
“This is a very important game and our head coach has already told us that understanding and applying our tactics will be essential if we are to win.”
America will be no pushovers, however.
The Mexican club booked their spot at the Club World Cup by defeating MLS club Montreal Impact in the CONCACAF Champions League final.
They have made one appearance at the tournament in the past, going down to Barcelona in the semi-finals in 2006.
America’s coach, Ignacio Ambriz, competed as a player in the first ever Club World Cup for Necaxa in 2000 when it was known as the Club World Championship.
The 50-year-old, who also played for Mexico at the 1994 World Cup, is relishing the opportunity to be back at the CWC in a different capacity.
“I had the good fortune to play in the Club World Cup at the end of my career with Necaxa, where I won a lot of trophies,” Ambriz told FIFA.com. “We beat off some big teams to finish third and even defeated Real Madrid [on penalties in the play-off for bronze].
“Things are very different now that I’m a coach. It really changes things and I’m going to enjoy this in a different way. I have to keep an eye on lots of things: the players, the club and the families travelling with us. You have to take care of everything.
“The first thing we’ll be doing is playing our own game. We’re going to be organised and we’ll look to press hard in trying to win back possession, and also be aware of when we need to hit on the break and when we need to keep the ball.
“I won’t be closing myself away, though. I’ll be studying all our opponents, and if we have to change our formation or system a little, then we’ll do it.”
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