Al-Sadd eye Barça upset
© Getty Images

Barcelona kick off their FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2011 campaign with a semi-final showdown against Al-Sadd, and with their sights set firmly on lifting the trophy for the second time. The Asian champions have their own dreams though, having earned the right to face Pep Guardiola’s men with a battling victory over Esperance in the quarter-finals.

The match
Al-Sadd-Barcelona, Yokohama International Stadium, Thursday 15 December 2011, 19.30 (local time)

The stakes
Barcelona will make their FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2011 debut at the Yokohama International Stadium, where they finished runners-up five years ago. The reigning European champions made amends for their 2006 final defeat by winning the competition in Abu Dhabi in 2009, and they arrive in Japan at full strength and with confidence high after their recent league victory over arch-rivals Real Madrid. The Spaniards will be determined to lift the trophy for the second time, but they must first negotiate a tricky semi-final against Al-Sadd.

The Qataris followed up their surprise Asian Champions League triumph with a hard-fought victory over Esperance to seal a place in the last four at Japan 2011. Their victory over the African champions showed impressive team spirit, tactical discipline and a cutting edge in front of goal, and coach Jorge Fossati will no doubt be asking his players for more of the same as they look to upset Barça's title aspirations.

The stat
4
– Barcelona recorded the largest victory in the history of the FIFA Club World Cup in 2006, with a 4-0 win over Mexican side Club America. The Catalans will have two matches in which to better that record at Japan 2011.

The words
“We’ve come here with the aim of adding another line to the club’s honours list. The fact that Al-Sadd are in the semi-finals of a tournament like this shows the potential of this Qatari side. We all have a lot of respect for one another at this level of competition,” Daniel Alves, Barcelona defender.

“There’s a famous manufacturer that uses the slogan 'impossible is nothing'. I want to believe this now more than ever, even though we’re about to face the undisputed best team in the world. This match represents the biggest challenge of my players’ careers. We need to show humility and keep a strong, positive spirit,” Jorge Fossati, Al-Sadd coach.