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Club World Cup semi-final

Ribery key to solving Chinese puzzle

German champions, DFB Cup Winners, Champions League winners and holders of the UEFA Super Cup: Bayern have already secured four trophies in 2013 but now aim to crown what is already the most successful 12 months in the club’s 113-year history with a fifth trophy, the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco. Pep Guardiola's team can take the first step in the semi-finals on Tuesday evening (kick-off 8.30 pm CET) against Asian Champions League winners Guangzhou Evergrande from China.

“The name Club World Cup indicates an important tournament,” Matthias Sammer said of a competition that is often underrated in Europe. “We’re fighting to be called the best team in the world,” added Guardiola, who won the tournament twice with Barcelona (2009, 2011). “It’s very, very important for our club,” continued the Spaniard, underlining the significance of the trophy.

1976, 2001 - 2013?

Bayern won the Intercontinental Cup, the predecessor to the FIFA Club World Cup, back in 1976 and 2001. Now they aim to be the first German team to win the tournament since its relaunch in 2005. “The Club World Cup is a title you can't win every year,” captain Philipp Lahm said, noting the significance of the contest even though the trophy is much more highly valued in South America than in Europe. “I know that in some places, it is a very important competition.”

The Bundesliga leaders are up against Chinese powerhouses Guangzhou Evergrande, who beat African champions Al-Ahly 2-0 in the quarter final on Saturday to qualify for the semi-finals. “They are a very good team, with two or three incredibly strong individuals. We’ll be prepared, and we’re not expecting it to be an easy match,” said Sammer, keen for FCB not to underestimate the Chinese champions.

Italian style

The Chinese team are supervised by none other than Italian World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi. “It's an honour to play against him,” Guardiola said. Lippi is the first coach to win both the European and the Asian Champions League. Now he aims to hinder Bayern’s quest for a fifth title. “If he plays in the typical Italian style, his team will be very disciplined. That would make it hard to score,” Manuel Neuer noted. “We’ll do our best and we have faith that our very strong attack will pull us through.”

Guardiola will field a near full strength team, as all the stars apart from the injured Arjen Robben have travelled to Morocco. The figurehead on the night will be European Player of the Year Franck Ribéry, a fans’ favourite in Morocco, as the most potent attack in the Bundesliga with 42 goals seeks ways to put heavy pressure on their Chinese opponents. “My players will know everything they need to know,” Guardiola said in the press conference on Monday.

Matthias Sammer expects the team to take the game seriously and deliver a better performance than against Manchester City and Hamburg. “I believe we have to give an improved display at the end of the year, both mentally and physically,” he emphasised. “When your legs start to struggle at the end of the year, you need to pick it up mentally. That’s what we expect from our players.”