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Scolari backs Evergrande against Barcelona's '25 Neymars'

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-12-17 15:16

Scolari backs Evergrande against Barcelona's '25 Neymars'

Barcelona's head coach Luis Enrique speaks during a press conference in Yokohama, Japan on Dec. 16, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]

Yokohama - Guangzhou Evergrande coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has warned Barcelona to expect a battle in Thursday's Club World Cup semi-final in Yokohama.

"Barcelona are one of the best teams on the planet, everybody knows that," the Brazilian told reporters on Wednesday. "But my players have the heart and the desire to make a game of it and I expect them to show that tomorrow."

Barca forward Neymar is likely to miss the clash with a groin strain but Scolari insisted the Brazilian's absence would make little difference.

"Neymar is one of the top three players in the world," said the former Brazil coach, whose Evergrande side upset Mexico's Club America 2-1 in the quarter-finals at the weekend.

"He has the potential to be the best player in the world in the next five years but Barcelona have 25 Neymars. They have quality in every position.

"They have (Lionel) Messi, (Luis) Suarez, (Andres) Iniesta, the list goes on -- players who can hurt you everywhere," he added. "It will be a huge challenge but one we relish."

Scolari, known as "Big Phil" in his native Brazil, has fond memories of Yokohama, having led this country to their fifth World Cup triumph here in 2002 when they beat Germany 2-0 in the final.

"When we arrived on the bus today I had some nice flashbacks to that time," said Scolari. "It's a place which has great significance for Brazil. But that chapter of my life is over so let's see what happens."

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