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Bayern coach Guardiola: Club World Cup 'not particularly special' ahead of Guangzhou semifinal
AGADIR, Morocco - Becoming the first coach to win three Club World Cups — with two different teams — isn't particularly motivating to Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola.
Guardiola will lead the European champions into Tuesday's semifinal against Asian champion Guangzhou Evergrande after replacing Jupp Heynkes this season.
For Guardiola, winning the tournament of continental champions is really about continuing Heynkes' legacy after the Dutch coach led the German club to its first treble of Champions League, Bundesliga, and German Cup titles.
"Jupp did a good job and that is why I am here. It's not particularly special," Guardiola said Tuesday from the Agadir Stadium. "I would like to win for the players, who won everything last year. And I would like to win for Bayern."
Guardiola, who previously won the competition twice at the helm of Barcelona, has led Bayern to a near perfect season since replacing Heynkes. Bayern won the UEFA Super Cup title and could add the first Club World Cup to its trophy case after the Germans twice won the predecessor Intercontinental Cup in 1976 and 2001.
Coming up against the Chinese champion's veteran Italian coach Marcello Lippi will certainly put the Bayern tactician to the task.
"Normally, before this game, people think Bayern is favourite but against an Italian (coach) that changes," Guardiola said. "When they are not favourites, in that moment they are so, so dangerous. We have to prepare as well as possible."
Lippi offered no surprises, saying his team would be realistic and play to its defensive strengths against the possession-minded Germans.
The 65-year-old Lippi's illustrious career began at Juventus, which he led to the Intercontinental in 1996, a Champions League and five Serie A titles before winning the 2006 World Cup with Italy.
Lippi was looking forward to trading tactical blows with Guardiola, whose numerous successes were achieved differently.
"He started at a young age with a very good team which he turned into the best team in the history of football, he had the capacity to do this and Barcelona conquered everything at club level. His philosophy also brought success to Spain's national team," Lippi said through a translator. "I, on the other hand, started low and worked my way up to achieve the great things I did."
Guardiola, 42, said friends in China had scouted Guangzhou. The little information he has accumulated will keep him weary of the Asian champion's attack, which features South American players Muriqui, Elkeson, Dario Conca, and former Celtic midfielder Zheng Zhi.
"(The semifinal) is more difficult than the final, you have to prepare and know them as best possible. Today I will put in the heads of my players the quality of our opponents," Guardiola said. "They have an argument. They are here because they are a good, good team."
The winner of Tuesday's game will face either South American champion Atletico Mineiro of Brazil or host club Raja Casablanca, who play in Marrakech on Wednesday. The final is on Saturday in Marrakech.
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