ABU DHABI (AFP) - Barcelona will go into the FIFA Club World Cup as favourites to win the competition for the first time, but winger Lionel Messi says they must learn the lessons from their last involvement.
The Club World Cup is the only international honour missing from Barcelona's well-stocked trophy cabinet after their previous attempt to win it, in 2006, ended in a 1-0 defeat to Brazilian side Internacional.
"I think the most important lesson we've learned is not to be over-confident and to get to know our opponents in depth," said Messi, in an interview with the FIFA website on the eve of the December 9-19 tournament here.
"The last time we maybe thought that the other sides were a bit below us and that's something we can't afford to let happen again if we want to be champions."
Victory in the tournament would crown a remarkable year for current Spanish league leaders Barcelona, who last season won the Champions League, Spanish league and King's Cup to claim an unprecedented treble.
It has also been an unforgettable 12 months for Messi, who last week became the first Argentine player to be named European Footballer of the Year when he was awarded the prestigious Ballon d'Or by France Football magazine.
"It's one title the club has never won and it's one title that?s eluded most of the players at Barca," said Messi.
"It's also the last competition of what's been a historic 2009 and we want to end the year in style. On a personal level, I'm really looking forward to it because it will help me keep on developing."
Barcelona's strongest challenge is likely to come from Messi's homeland, with South American champions Estudiantes set to enter the competition at the semi-final stage alongside the Catalan club.
Estudiantes won the Intercontinental Cup, the precursor to the current competition, by beating Manchester United in 1968 and finished runners-up in the two years afterwards.
Their participation in Abu Dhabi marks a return to the event after a 39-year absence, but a strand of continuity running between the sides can be found in the shape of Estudiantes midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, whose father Juan Ramon starred in the 1968 victory over United.
"It's an enriching experience for all of us, for the older players, who will be leading the way, and the younger ones, who'll be taking up the baton in the future," said Veron.
"You have to make them aware of what it means to be there, how fantastic it is. It's also important that nobody sits back and says 'I've made it now'. With a tournament like this you have to want to come back and experience it again."
The competition's other teams cannot boast players with reputations to match Messi or Veron, but all - with the exception of host club Al-Hahli - are continental champions.
South Korean side Pohang Steelers (Asia), Congolese outfit Tout Puissant Mazembe (Africa) and Mexico's Atlante (CONCACAF) will provide the biggest threat to the two heavyweights.
Auckland, who play Al-Hahli in the tournament's opening game on Wednesday, are the reigning champions from the Oceania region.
"We didn?t score a single goal in 2006 and that was a big disappointment for us," said Auckland captain Ivan Vicelich.
"We've prepared well this year though, and we're going to score a lot of goals. We've been talking about this match for weeks now and we need to go out and execute our gameplan."
The winners of the match between Al-Hahli and Auckland will join TP Mazembe, Atlante and Pohang Steelers in the quarter-finals, where a potential meeting with Pep Guardiola's Catalan conquerors Barcelona will be at stake.
|Klopp pre-season ´most intense ever´ for Sturridge|
|Simeone backs Griezmann for Ballon d´Or final three|
|Puskas Award winner quits football - to become a gamer|
|Simeone: Champions League final felt like a death|
|Higuain: I have to prove my worth to Juventus|
|Guardiola confirms interest in Sane and Stones|
|Moreno set for Manchester City switch and Deportivo loan, claims agent|
|De Laurentiis pushed me into Juventus move - Higuain|
|Savic seeking to put injury woe behind him|
|Borussia Dortmund 1 Manchester City 1 (5-6 pens): Gunn´s shootout saves earn Guardiola first win|
|Oblak: Atleti need consistency and luck|
|Warburton rubbishes Van Persie rumours|
|Hospitalised Grujic ´can´t remember anything´, says Klopp|
|Premier League, Serie A appeal to Simeone|
|Copa Libertadores success ´a dream´ for Borja|
|Pochettino honoured by Simeone comparisons|
|Argentina have not asked for Sampaoli - Monchi|
|Ancelotti: Fitness the key for Bayern|
|Bayern win ´a small foundation´ for Montella´s Milan|
|Icardi missing due to injury - Mancini|
|Emery satisfied with warm-up win over Madrid|
|Conte quiet on Tevez, apologises for Fabregas red|
|´It was far from a friendly´ - Klopp on Chelsea defeat|
|Madrid off the pace, concedes Zidane|
|Chelsea 1 Liverpool 0: Cahill´s header seals win|
|Grujic says Chelsea´s Matic told him to sign for Liverpool|
|Bolasie wants to see Berahino and Benteke at Crystal Palace|
|Rodgers hails ´outstanding result´ as Celtic draw|
|Walcott claims level of MLS is close to Premier League|
|Bayern Munich 3 AC Milan 3 (3-5 on penalties): Bonaventura seals win|
|Atletico Nacional 1 Independiente del Valle 0 (2-1 agg): Borja secures Copa Libertadores crown|
|Icardi absent again as Inter held by Estudiantes|
|Real Madrid 1 Paris Saint-Germain 3: Zidane oversees poor pre-season start|
|Hazard vows to rediscover best Chelsea form|
|Klopp reveals why he sent Sakho back to Liverpool|
|Tevez: Conte wanted me at Chelsea|
|Sunderland hopeful Defoe will be fit for Man City opener|
|Sundowns overcome Zamalek to book semi-final spot|
|Falcao scores as Monaco return ends in defeat to Fenerbahce|
|Southampton overcome Twente, Asoro stars for Sunderland|
|Man City must adapt to Guardiola tactics quickly - Denayer|
|Chelsea and Leicester to play in EFL Trophy as five Premier League clubs refuse|
|Tolisso pulls plug on €37.5m Napoli move to stay at Lyon|
|Ancelotti shrugging off Guardiola´s shadow|
|Uruguay international Lodeiro swaps Boca for Seattle|
|Ibrahimovic will bring United back to where they belong - Larsson|
|Transfer speculation frustrates Aubameyang|
|Willian ready for ´toughest Premier League season in history´|
|Astana 1 Celtic 1: Griffiths hits late equaliser|
|De Laurentiis feels betrayed by Higuain swapping Napoli for Juventus|
|Costa: Chelsea cannot be any worse than last season|
|Wilshere: Xhaka can hold Arsenal midfield together|
|Pato signs four-year deal with Villarreal|
|Higuain sets sights on Champions League after Juventus move|
|Lazio snap up Immobile from Sevilla|
|Batshuayi worth the money, insists Cahill|
|Arnautovic signs new Stoke deal|
|Smith leaves Liverpool for Bournemouth|
|Barcelona insist Arda Turan will stay|
|Andre Gomes: Barcelona suit my identity better than Real Madrid|
|Niersbach to appeal FIFA ban|
|Barcelona agree Mascherano renewal|
|Fernandinho can play in 10 positions - Guardiola|
|Reading´s kit launch is out of this world|
|Ben Arfa: I do not want to be PSG´s star player|
|FA Cup to trial fourth substitute|
|We want Balotelli and he wants us, says Besiktas chief|
|Crowd welcomes Higuain as he arrives for Juventus medical|
|Guardiola warns Man City stars: If you´re not fit, danger is coming|
|Mkhitaryan prepares to prove himself at United|
|Cavani: No pressure replacing Ibrahimovic|
|Wenger vows to keep transfer plans ´secret´ after Lacazette snub|
|Brannagan open to Championship loan move|
|Wenger wants to sign Mertesacker replacement|
|Ancelotti: Bayern´s transfer business done|
|Brisbane Roar sign former Danish international Kristensen|
|Verratti, Luiz missing for PSG|
|Sounders part ways with foundation coach Schmid|
|Mane turned down Manchester United for Liverpool|
|Zidane on Pogba: Until August 31, anything can happen|
|Mkhitaryan driven by father´s death|
|Inter rejected Napoli offer for Icardi, says president|
|Clichy: City fighting fit after Guardiola pizza ban|
|Everton and Burnley win as Hull are held|
|Ajax held by PAOK after Cillessen howler|
|Conte left frustrated by ´crazy´ money in transfer market|
|Neymar makes Barcelona case to Gabriel Jesus|
|Rostov comeback twice for Champions League draw with Anderlecht.|
|Arsenal defender Mertesacker set for lengthy lay-off|
|Conte not selling ´fantastic´ Matic|
|Ibrahimovic keen on MLS and Beckham´s Miami project|
|Neymar: I play for Messi, he´s the man|
|Barcelona reveal details of Andre Gomes deal|
|Suarez bullish over Barcelona prospects|
|Ajax claim Napoli keen on Milik to replace Higuain|
|Totti labels Higuain´s Juventus move ´a disaster´|
|Juventus confirm Higuain deal|
|Pato to Villarreal ´in the final stage´|
|PSG sign Lo Celso|
|Muller: Beating Dortmund will be more fun this season|
|Juventus sign Higuain from Napoli for €90m|
|Pastore: I´m like God in Paris|
|Injured Lanzini out of Olympics|
|Allegri unperturbed by Higuain fee|
|Menezes replaces Bento at Cruzeiro|
|Sporting rejected major bids from Inter and Liverpool for Joao Mario, claims father|
|Pochettino pleased by Tottenham despite Juventus defeat|
|Eriksson: Allardyce the right man for England|
|Mourinho makes United train after stepping off plane from China|
|Hazard can still match Messi, says Pedro|
|Pjanic shows there is life at Juve, with or without Pogba|
|Juventus 2 Tottenham 1: Benatia bags win for Serie A champions|
|Dembele: I am not the Bundesliga´s next superstar|
|Lyon claim €35m Arsenal offer for Lacazette rejected|
|Donnarumma dreaming of Milan captaincy as he eyes long-term stay|
|Robson: Ibrahimovic can match Van Persie´s first year at United|
|Rooney should remain England captain - Eriksson|
|Emery wants new striker at PSG|
|Santos accept Juventus bid for Gabriel|
|Eriksson expects Sweden to try and tempt Ibrahimovic out of retirement|
|Spurs signing Janssen almost quit|
|Leicester stay best for Mahrez - Ranieri|
|Allardyce to take Mourinho cue on Rooney|
|Ings ready to outdo big-money signings|
|Henderson optimistic over Liverpool campaign|
|Allardyce hardened to the challenge of England post|