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.
|Bolton Wanderers 1 Brentford 1: Smith watches on as strugglers snatch point|
|Napoli 2 Inter 1: Higuain at the double as hosts go top|
|Lewandowski: Less pressure on me than Aubameyang|
|Defoe, Larsson to miss Arsenal match|
|Sassuolo 1 Fiorentina 1: Di Francesco´s side extend unbeaten home run|
|Barcelona took ´a step forward´ without Messi - Busquets|
|Unfair to blame Garcia for Roma form - Zanetti|
|Southampton v Liverpool: Returning stars have Ibe in buoyant mood|
|Lewandowski´s five-goal haul recognised for four records|
|Barcelona v Villanovense: Holders get second crack at minnows|
|Verona sack Mandorlini|
|Valencia confirm Nuno departure|
|Premier League clubs reveal agent fees|
|Stoke will not underestimate Sheffield Wednesday – Hughes|
|Robben wants Guardiola to stay at Bayern|
|Aguero allays foot injury concerns|
|Cadiz v Real Madrid: Pepe calls for hard work in Andalusia|
|Bolton confirm players have not been paid for November|
|Neville takes Valencia training following Nuno resignation|
|Mihajlovic targets Coppa Italia triumph|
|Garde confident Villa will survive|
|Everton to make late call on Barry and McCarthy|
|Davids: Messi is an anomaly but Ronaldo just an athlete|
|Simeone open to January signings following Tiago injury|
|Messi leads nominees for Puskas Award|
|Hummels defends himself after media criticism|
|Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar nominated for Ballon d´Or|
|Luis Enrique, Guardiola and Sampaoli up for World Coach of the Year|
|Chelsea about the team, not just Costa - Ivanovic|
|Kuyt open to Feyenoord extension|
|Barcelona lodge complaint over ex-Madrid duo´s Neymar comments|
|Davies wants Manchester City quarter-final to get crazy|
|Ribery ordeal is over – Rummenigge|
|Smalling: Vardy run opens door to non-League hopefuls|
|Bender relieved to end Dortmund losing streak|
|Mata: Manchester United have six finals in December|
|Vardy reveals painful road to Premier League record|
|Pardew urges Newcastle to back McClaren|
|Russian clubs banned from signing Turkish players|
|Klopp expects Coutinho to face Southampton|
|Valverde: Let´s hope Barcelona don´t sign Aduriz|
|De Bruyne relishing link-up with Silva|
|´Crazy´ Munich could convince Guardiola to stay|
|Defiant Garcia refuses to resign despite Roma slump|
|Monk confident Swansea can turn the corner|
|Bellerin: Arsenal can cope without Sanchez|
|McClaren: Newcastle not panicking|
|Klopp delighted with Sturridge, Henderson returns|
|I wouldn´t swap Lukaku for Vardy - Martinez|
|MLS Review: Timbers, Crew to meet in final|
|Nuno saddened by Valencia departure|
|Morata will become a key player - Allegri|
|Serie A Review: Juve revival continues as Roma stutter|
|Ligue 1 Review: Marseille and Monaco share thriller as Caen go second|
|Nuno resigns from Valencia post|
|Palermo 0 Juventus 3: Four Serie A wins in a row for improving champions|
|Neymar: ´MSN´ should be Ballon d´Or final three|
|Madrid must ´give everything in each match´ - Navas|
|´I take full responsibility´ - Monk|
|Neil hails Grabban display after Arsenal draw|
|Arsenal will survive ´bad spell´ - Wenger|
|Klopp proud of ´perfect´ Liverpool win|
|Bundesliga Review: Aubameyang at the double for Dortmund, Leverkusen draw with Schalke|
|Wenger: I nearly rested Sanchez|
|Ronaldo did well, insists Benitez|
|Liverpool 1 Swansea City 0: Milner spot on again as Henderson and Sturridge return|
|Norwich City 1 Arsenal 1: Sanchez, Koscielny limp off as Gunners are held|
|Bilic worried about Sakho muscle injury|
|Angers v PSG: Kurzawa wants unbeaten season|
|Tuchel relieved to see Borussia Dortmund return to winning ways|
|Pulis ´disappointed´ with free-kick decision|
|Manchester City v Hull City: Wounded Tigers must avoid ´a pasting´, warns Davies|
|Reus Deportiu v Atletico Madrid: Simeone´s side face in-form underdogs|
|West Ham needed a second goal - Bilic|
|Deila slams Stokes following Twitter outburst|
|Eibar 0 Real Madrid 2: Bale and Ronaldo on target|
|Borussia Dortmund 4 Stuttgart 1: Aubameyang double hands Kramny a losing start|
|Chelsea performance enthuses Mourinho|
|Mourinho: Costa wouldn´t use a bib to hurt me!|
|Chelsea felt like ´a small team´ to Tottenham - Pochettino|
|West Ham 1 West Brom 1: Reid own goal steals point for Pulis´ men|
|´Impossible´ to compare Icardi and Higuain - Mancini|
|Stoke City v Sheffield Wednesday: Visitors are clear underdogs, claims Carvalhal|
|´It was pretty embarrassing´ - Colback slams Newcastle|
|Pochettino lauds his Tottenham players as ´heroes´|
|Mourinho denies Diego Costa rift|
|Hazard rues ´beautiful´ Lloris save|
|Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1 Celtic 3: Champions triumph despite Stokes storm|
|Inter playing to their strengths - Sarri|
|Tottenham 0 Chelsea 0: Pochettino´s side set record unbeaten run|
|Middlesbrough v Everton: Barry aiming to bounce back|
|AC Milan v Crotone: Mihajlovic targets four wins from four before mid-season break|
|Galliani: Milan refused to sell Niang|
|Premier League loan move unlikely for Drogba|
|Fekir dreams of Barcelona move and Ballon d´Or|
|Inter will not be criticised if they win the Scudetto - Prandelli|
|Newcastle fans right to be angry - McClaren|
|Ghoulam: Napoli-Inter not decisive in Scudetto race|
|Tiago out for at least three months|
|Monk: Klopp must make Liverpool title contenders|
|Lahm praises Bayern for adapting to injuries|
|Central Coast Mariners 0 Western Sydney Wanderers 2: Visitors win fifth straight|
|Arsenal building to title challenge - Mertesacker|
|Henry: Premier League title a five-horse race|
|Olsson urges Ibrahimovic to make Premier League move|
|Niang delighted with first Serie A goals|
|Wenger backs Campbell to earn spot|
|Much more to come from Firmino - Klopp|
|Kane dreaming of Premier League title win|
|Neymar´s evolution has been startling - Dani Alves|
|Van Gaal explains Lingard, Rojo absences|
|Messi number one regardless of goals - Iniesta|
|Klopp: I´m free to sign Dortmund players|
|Mourinho: Hazard not Chelsea´s number 10|
|Mihajlovic not surprised by Niang form|
|La Liga Review: Barcelona march on; victory for Atletico Madrid|