YOKOHAMA, Japan (AFP) - A defiant Gamba Osaka insist they are not afraid of Manchester United, but the Japanese team face a daunting task against the European champions in their Club World Cup semi-final on Thursday.
It will be one of the biggest games in Gamba's history, but they are handicapped by injuries to attacking midfielders Takahiro Futagawa and Hayato Sasaki, who were stretchered off during their win over Adelaide on Sunday.
A consolation is that United are also struggling, with Dimitar Berbatov sick with a virus and ruled out of the game, while Wayne Rooney is a doubt after picking up an injury in training.
Gamba captain Satoshi Yamaguchi believes they have what it takes to tame the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Rooney, should he play.
"We have nothing to lose and we'll go all out, leave everything out there on the pitch," he said.
"We don't want to be thinking after the match that we should have done this and that, and as long as we're playing them, we'll play to win. But we need to make sure we don't play like we did against Adelaide."
In that game, the Asian champions were lucky to survive, with the influential Yasuhito Endo scoring the only goal.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson watched the match on DVD and pinpointed Endo as the danger man, along with their Brazilian striker Lucas.
"He is their star player," the Scot said of Endo. "Not only did he score the decisive goal, he was the influential player in terms of possession of the ball.
"He actually changed his position from where he normally plays behind the centre forward after they lost two players in the first 18 minutes and played towards the left-hand side. And it worked very well.
"Their Brazilian centre forward (Lucas) is also a very good player. He has quick feet and, unusually for a Brazilian, he is tall. He is a very effective player."
Ferguson, who has defended United's decision to make the long trip to Japan in mid-season, would not be drawn on his starting 11.
But he said veterans Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs would all play.
"They have played a lot of big games and their experience will be vital," he said, adding that Ronaldo was also a definite starter.
United are eager to win the tournament and add a new trophy to their collection, but Ferguson is aware that Japanese football has improved in recent years and he is not being complacent.
"I've experienced playing in Japan before. We played Urawa Reds twice and they were very difficult opposition because they played with great enthusiasm," he said.
"The improvement in Japanese football is obvious. There is a tremendous improvement in the organisation and team's abilities, so we're expecting a hard game on Thursday.
"Hopefully it is one we can win and go to the final."
Awaiting them in Sunday's final, should they win, will be either Ecuador's Liga de Quito or Mexico's Pachuca.
Despite United's superior skills, physical strength and experience, Gamba coach Akira Nishino suggested an upset was not just a dream.
Admitting his side's chances of creating an upset are "close to nil", Nishino said: "We will face them without fear."
"Tomorrow will be a great day for Gamba. We are ready to give 100 percent for the challenge tomorrow," he added.
The Club World Cup, first organised in its current format in 2005, is an extension of the Intercontinental Cup contested by European and South American champion clubs.
|Arena hopes Dempsey will feature in March qualifiers|
|Toronto FC 0 Seattle Sounders 0 (aet, 4-5 pens): Frei, Torres the heroes in maiden MLS Cup win|
|Conte: Costa is a warrior, Terry still a leader|
|29 killed in terror attack at home of Besiktas, confirms Turkey´s interior minister|
|This badge means we have a duty to fight - Ramos|
|Zidane champions ´undying belief´ of Real Madrid saviour Ramos|
|Real Madrid 3 Deportivo La Coruna 2: Ramos to the rescue again for BBC-less hosts|
|Real Madrid set new 35-match unbeaten record|
|Terror attack at home of Besiktas condemned|
|Ranieri: Big champions react at the right moment|
|Guardiola defends tactics as City falter again|
|Wenger confirms Mustafi to miss three weeks|
|Iniesta: Barcelona never despaired against Osasuna|
|Leicester City 4 Manchester City 2: Vardy back in business as champions upset City|
|Snodgrass apologises after controversial penalty|
|Falcao´s first hat-trick in four years sends Monaco top of Ligue 1|
|Bosz confirms Bazoer´s imminent departure|
|Moyes: Swansea penalty the wrong decision|
|Ancelotti delighted after Muller finally scores|
|Dyche blasts ref for giving Bournemouth lifeline|
|Equaliser hurt us, concedes Hughes|
|Pardew sympathises with referee after Snodgrass penalty|
|Bradley delighted by Swansea response and clean sheet|
|´We´re going to s***´ - Mina disgusted as Valencia lose again|
|FACT: Vardy ends drought as Man City make worst start in 10 years|
|Wenger lauds Arsenal composure in comeback triumph|
|Tuchel: Reus is irreplaceable for Borussia Dortmund|
|Alba: Messi hasn´t spoken about new contract|
|Ingolstadt 1 RB Leipzig 0: First defeat knocks newcomers off top|
|Hull City 3 Crystal Palace 3: Campbell equaliser buys Pardew time|
|Burnley 3 Bournemouth 2: Hendrick stunner helps Burnley to victory|
|Swansea City 3 Sunderland 0: Llorente double eases pressure on Bradley|
|Arsenal 3 Stoke City 1: Gunners battle back to move top|
|Cologne 1 Borussia Dortmund 1: Reus salvages draw with late equaliser|
|Inter boss Pioli wary of Milan and Juventus conquerors Genoa|
|Bayern Munich 5 Wolfsburg 0: Muller breaks duck as hosts go top|
|Jozy Altidore and Christian Pulisic honored with US Soccer awards|
|Too passive and too reactive - Koeman slams Everton after Watford defeat|
|Luis Enrique challenges Barcelona to pile pressure on Madrid|
|Deeney: More to come from two-goal Okaka|
|A-League Review: Berisha the hero for Melbourne Victory|
|Allegri: Turin derby is dangerous for Juve|
|Suarez refuses to give up LaLiga title fight|
|Watford 3 Everton 2: Okaka double adds to Toffees´ away-day woes|
|Osasuna 0 Barcelona 3: Messi magic ends frustrating run of draws|
|Emery does not fear PSG sack|
|Eder adamant Inter can still reach Champions League|
|Montreal Impact claim Dzemaili coup|
|Ventura: Belotti like Ronaldo and Buffon|
|Manchester United have duty to entertain - Valencia|
|Barry set to go joint-second in all-time Premier League appearance list|
|Ventura: Buffon welcome in Italy coaching set-up|
|Marseille stump up for 160 fans´ Dijon stays|
|Gabriel will only go on loan to a club on Inter´s level, says agent|
|Bayern do not bow to economic force - Hoeness|
|All clubs would want Sturridge, says Bilic|
|Seaman urges Arsenal to spend big on keeping Sanchez and Ozil|
|Bravo happy to accept criticism for City showings|
|Origi reveals United, Bayern snubs|
|Cavani: I´d like to play with Griezmann one day|
|Aguero is not aggressive, claims Guardiola|
|Ibrahimovic wants United to be ruthless|
|Sanchez can be Arsenal´s new Henry - Wenger|
|Andre Gomes can play in Busquets role, insists Luis Enrique|
|Aguero´s dangerous tackle scared me, says Conte|
|Guardiola: We are killing the players|
|Bournemouth announce plans for new stadium|
|Former Bayern Munich and Real Madrid star Ze Roberto to play beyond 43rd birthday|
|Barcelona friendly awaits new Chapecoense coach Mancini|
|Arsenal are privileged to have Sanchez and Ozil - Monreal|
|Watzke denies agreement to discuss Aubameyang transfer with Madrid|
|Paris Saint-Germain v Nice: Champions hunting down shock leaders|
|Giggs tells Rashford how to end his goal drought|
|Manchester United without Shaw, Smalling for Tottenham clash|
|Willems inks PSV renewal|
|Costa and Conte scoop Premier League awards|
|Conte detained on suspicion of assault|
|Strootman ban for derby ´simulation´ overturned|
|Mourinho demands more goals from Rooney|
|Bobo preserves Sydney´s unbeaten start in Cup final rematch|
|Luis Enrique: I don´t dare predict if Messi will renew|
|Mourinho admits changing style for United|
|Sanchez talk is disrespectful, says Conte|
|Sassuolo 0 Genk 2: Visitors seal top spot|
|Sterling back for City as Guardiola predicts tough Leicester test|
|Mourinho still the ´Special One´ for Pochettino|
|Matic return leaves Conte with Fabregas dilemma|
|Guardiola expects greater impact from City youngsters next season|
|Klopp defends Karius after Bournemouth blunder|
|Pirlo visits Chelsea - but Conte is not signing him|
|Ronaldo, Modric rested for Deportivo clash|
|Tuchel hails returning Reus|
|Klopp has ´no idea´ on Sturridge return|
|´My players are intelligent and good people´ - Zidane on Ronaldo´s taxes|
|Atletico to play at ´Wanda Metropolitano´|
|Real Madrid to rest Benzema and start Morata against Deportivo|
|Ancelotti rules out Draxler bid as Bayern prepare for barren transfer window|
|Ighalo calls on Watford to sign Mikel|
|Pardew wants defender and striker to bolster Palace survival push|
|Moyes: M´Vila doesn´t have the fight for Sunderland|
|Leipzig only built to earn Red Bull money - Watzke|
|Shenhua director blasts CSL imports... but desperate for Tevez deal|
|Ribery: Bayern my last club in Europe|
|Hughes targets Arsenal fans to help Stoke end dismal away run|
|83 suspects, 98 clubs ´impacted´ in football abuse probe|
|Fowler pleads with Liverpool to keep ´top quality´ Sturridge|
|Reus ´100 per cent different´ on comeback|
|Ibrahimovic ´super happy´ for rejuvenated Mkhitaryan|
|Vertonghen: Football needs Mourinho|
|Title triumph went to Leicester´s heads, admits Ranieri|
|Conceicao named new Nantes coach|
|LaLiga lead means nothing - Zidane|
|Chapecoense add two stars to badge in wake of air disaster|
|Blatter accuses Infantino of lack of respect|
|Austin injury compounds Puel´s misery|
|Gestifute publishes further evidence of ´Ronaldo tax compliance´|
|Pioli eyes further Inter improvement|
|´I feel s***´ - Van Dijk blasts Southampton after Europa League collapse|