Barcelona are set to turn their attention to the quest for Club World Cup glory and Dani Alves is determined to ensure the favourites do not fall flat in Japan.
The competition gets underway on Thursday as Auckland City take on Sanfrecce Hiroshima in Yokohama for a place in the quarter-finals. CAF Champions League holders TP Mazembe await the winner of that match in the last eight.
But, although Barca do not enter the competition until the semi-finals, all the focus will be on the European and Spanish champions as they aim to win the competition for the third time.
Barca beat Estudiantes 2-1 in the 2009 final having lost to Internacional in the Yokohama showpiece three years earlier and then thrashed Santos 4-0 in the 2011 final.
The Yokohama International Stadium will again be scene of this year’s final and Alves wants the Catalan club to avoid complacency as they attempt to keep the trophy in Spain following Real Madrid’s success last year.
He told TVE: “We want to re-enter the history of football, that’s our challenge. It’s a very desirable competition.
“But, watch out, we have to go game by game so we don’t end up like other teams who thought about a final then didn’t play it.”
The last time a European team did not reach the final was back in 2000 when the tournament used a group stage format and both Madrid and Manchester United missed out.
Standing in Barca’s way in the semi-finals will be Club America or Guangzhou Evergrande – who are to meet in the quarters after winning the CONCACAF Champions League and AFC Champions League respectively.
Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Guangzhou possess some players – in the form of former Madrid forward Robinho and ex-Tottenham midfielder Paulinho – who could cause Barca some problems
Meanwhile, America are bidding to become the first Mexican team to reach the final and captain Rubens Sambueza told FIFA.com: “Playing Barca is enough to motivate any player but we know very well that we’ve got Guangzhou Evergrande first. We’ll have to perform very well if we want to go through and play Barcelona.
“The dream is to make the final and win it. This team has a real hunger for glory and we want to make history.”
Barca’s most likely opponents in the final are Copa Libertadores winners River Plate, who won the 1986 Intercontinental Cup and will face either TP Mazembe, Auckland or Sanfrecce in the last four.
“We know that if we get through the semi-final we could well be coming up against a great team,” River midfielder Carlos Sanchez said.
“We’ve got that extra motivation that could work in our favour. We want to live up to expectations and put in a great performance. We don’t just want to go through. We want to do it in style.”