Guardiola determined to make title history, says Guillem
Last Updated: 16/12/09 8:23am
Barcelona will be desperate to be crowned FIFA World Club Champions this week to seal a sensational six-title sweep.
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"In the UK we've grown up not treating the World Club Championship very seriously but in continental Europe it is taken seriously. "
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That's the view of Guillem Balague, who told Revista de la Liga that Pep Guardiola's side has not flown out to Abu Dhabi to make up the numbers but is intent on bringing the crown home.
Barca have already enjoyed a marvellous calendar year, scooping the Copa Del Ray, the La Liga title and the UEFA Champions League crown in May before winning both the Spanish Super Cup and UEFA Super Cup in August.
Now with the end of 2009 in sight, Balague believes they are hungry to end the decade in style even if they are not ideally prepared to battle Atlante on Wednesday for the right to play Estudiantes in Saturday's final.
"They are completely unprepared for it because of the calendar programme," said Balague. "They have had a very long trip two days before the semi-finals.
"But still they do want it. It has never happened before in the history of this game that a team wins everything that it plays for.
"In fact Pep Guardiola, in the last two years that he has been a manager, has won everything that he's been involved in. He will be desperate to win it."
Fellow Revista pundit Graham Hunter insists that despite what the competition's critics might say, the FFA World Club Championship is a tournament worth winning.
"If you remember when Celtic and Manchester United in the sixties became champions of Europe they went to very hostile, South American matches and often there was a feeling that we were being cheated," he said.
"I think that in the UK we've grown up not treating this title very seriously but in continental Europe it is taken seriously and particular if you are Barcelona and Real Madrid who have won it a couple of times. Oh boy, how much to they want to win this!"
Barcelona travelled to Abu Dhabi after suffering just one defeat in 26 games this season, that loss coming against Ruben Kazan in the Champions League, but were somewhat fortunate to overcome Espanyol at the weekend after Zlatan Ibrahamovic converted a harshly-awarded penalty.
"He (Ibrahamovic) is the most in-form player in the world at the moment," said Balague. "It is not just the 11 goals that he has scored, it is that Messi was absent and he did a little bit of the Messi thing - of dropping deep, holding the ball, being able to assist players.
"When he scored the penalty - the first he has taken this season - it was the sixth time this season that he has scored the first goal of the game. He is absolutely crucial."
Hunter added: "There's a little story that Ibrahimovic tells us around the training camp and press conferences that shows he still owes it to Fabio Capello.
"When he arrived in Italy Capello said 'your skills aren't enough, your showmanship isn't enough - you must score and score and win games and win games'.
"He made him practice on his finishing almost to the point of humiliation; now he says 'I owe it all to the current England coach'."