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.
|Lallana to miss up to six weeks with knee injury|
|Isgrove maintains Koeman´s perfect start|
|Lens announce Ligue 1 appeal success|
|Pekerman talks due in August|
|PSG sanction ´harsh´, claims FFF chief|
|Garcia: Strootman going nowhere|
|Van Aanholt departs Chelsea for Sunderland|
|Benfica sign Manchester United flop Bebe|
|Campbell makes Palace move|
|Reed signs new deal at Southampton|
|Juve stunned in Allegri´s first match|
|AFA fined over Falklands banner|
|Robinho likely to move, claims agent|
|Drogba completes Chelsea return|
|Kiyotake moves to Hannover|
|Marotta: Juventus eyeing striking additions|
|Bakayoko set for Monaco switch|
|J.League Preview: Vortis out to improve dismal fortunes against Ardija|
|Juve complete Pereyra deal|
|Ranieri named Greece head coach|
|Fiorentina agree Basanta deal|
|Di Natale backs Pereyra´s Juve move|
|Iniesta: Suarez has talent to restore Barca glory|
|Cerci in charge of his future, says Cairo|
|West Ham target new striker|
|Pardew hopeful over De Jong|
|Rodgers expects new Gerrard deal|
|Jones: United embracing Van Gaal methods|
|Henry: Time had come to sell Suarez|
|Brunt eyes new West Brom deal|
|Arsenal´s World Cup winners to miss league opener|
|Modric hails Rodriguez, Kroos signings|
|Cech does not want bench role|
|Inzaghi blames fatigue for Milan loss|
|Real´s time to shine, says Ancelotti|
|Real Salt Lake 3 Montreal Impact 1: Garcia stars in Utah|
|Downing: Carroll injury a ´big blow´|
|Irvine: I have not seen Ideye play live|
|Olympiacos triumph in Toronto|
|Giggs likens Van Gaal to Ferguson|
|Copa do Brasil Review: Corinthians among trio on the verge of progression|
|Blanc: World Cup stars will move on|
|Pinto steps down as Costa Rica coach|
|Mourinho planning Drogba swoop|
|UEFA Europa League Review: Rosenborg complete comeback to see off Sligo|
|Mathieu out to enjoy Barcelona move|
|Mandzukic not Diego Costa´s replacement|
|Eliseu returns to Portugal with Benfica|
|Sanabria makes Roma switch|
|Carroll to miss start of season|
|Vidal: I´m not going to Manchester|
|Xavi staying at Barcelona|
|Hannover complete Gulselam signing|
|Astori loaned to Roma, Cagliari confirm|
|Nigeria to talk with Keshi over return|
|Gamberini makes Chievo move|
|Besic poised to complete Everton move|
|Marseille move Montpellier fixture from Stade Velodrome|
|CSL Preview: Harbin eye Luneng scalp, Guangzhou face Hena|
|Guardiola preaches patience with Lewandowski|
|Lampard joins New York City|
|Blanc coy on Di Maria speculation|
|CAF Confederation Cup Preview: ASEC coach confident, Al Ahly seek qualification|
|Chelsea loan Piazon to Frankfurt|
|Pochettino has high hopes for Lamela|
|Aguirre appointed as Japan coach|
|Swansea swoop for Montero|
|Pozuelo makes Vallecano switch|
|Fred back at Shakhtar, Ismaily to follow|
|CFF investigate Fofana accusations|
|Suarez could make sensational Clasico debut|
|Ribery in line for return, says Guardiola|
|Reus could resume training in two or three weeks - Klopp|
|Roma need another defender, says Garcia|
|Everton on verge of new signings|
|Rodrigo hails Nuno after Valencia switch|
|Delph eager for new Villa deal|
|Ljajic not seeking Roma exit|
|Talks held as players strike in Ecuador|
|Crouch excited by Bojan capture|
|Lambert expects swift recovery for Cole|
|West Ham duo fail to travel|
|United to play 3-4-3, says Van Gaal|
|Lallana, Markovic set to feature against Olympiacos|
|Real want to win every trophy, says Bale|
|San Jose Earthquakes 5 Chicago Fire 1: Hosts break winless streak|
|Chelsea have "outstanding squad" - Costa|
|United make winning start under Van Gaal|
|Rodgers plays down Borini injury concerns|
|Atletico Mineiro 4 Lanus 3 (agg 5-3): Own goals gift Brazilians the win|
|Dunga names Brazil assistants|
|Man City show class in Kansas|
|Villa too good for Dallas|
|Santos cannot meet Robinho´s demands, says vice-president|
|Mourinho happy with goalkeeper situation|
|Borini hurt as Liverpool lose to Roma|
|Palace held to draw by Crew|
|Tottenham down Toronto after Lamela brace|
|San Lorenzo 5 Bolivar 0: Hosts close in on Copa Libertadores final|
|Sunderland forward Scocco joins Newell´s|
|Rodgers: We won´t overpay in transfer market|
|Maccabi Haifa friendly abandoned after pitch invasion|
|USA dynamo Beasley joins Houston|