Football

Club America: Real are not favourites

Club America coach Ricardo La Volpe has promised that the Mexican side would play with no fear against mighty Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Club World Cup in Japan today.

"We have quality in our team too," said the firebrand Argentinian, who used to incur the wrath of Fifa officials for chain-smoking on the bench.

"I don't think Real are favourites," said La Volpe, whose team beat South Korea's Jeonbuk Motors 2-1 last weekend.

"Yes, they are a great team, but we will play with our heart, look to be aggressive and take our chances."

If Real coach Zinedine Zidane are to be believed, then Club America can forget about collecting Real's scalp.

He said yesterday that Cristiano Ronaldo is itching to prove just why he deserved the Ballon d'Or by leading them to another Club World Cup title.

The Portuguese superstar was voted the world's best player for a fourth time on Monday.

"Cristiano is hugely motivated for this game - as always," Real coach Zidane said.

"He would be motivated even if it were a friendly, that's just the sort of player he is."

"Obviously, we have many great players at Real, but it's very rare one player wins so many awards," added the Frenchman, whose side are chasing their second world title in three years.

"To win four Ballon d'Ors is a fabulous achievement and it's not an easy thing to do.

"What he's doing is absolutely incredible - maybe he deserves a fifth one, too!"

Zidane has warned his players against over-confidence against a Club America side celebrating their centennial season.

"For many of their players, maybe it will be their only chance to play against Real and I'm sure they will give us plenty of headaches," he said.

"I told the players we can't just turn up and expect to win, we have to earn it."

Barring a huge upset, Real, who are on a club-record 35-game unbeaten run and looking to bring home a fifth world crown, will face Kashima Antlers in the final after they stunned Colombia's Atletico Nacional 3-0 in Osaka in the first semi-final last night. - AFP

FootballREAL MADRID