ABU DHABI // It may have appeared relatively simple, but following Atlante's routine 3-0 victory over Oceania amateurs Auckland City, the Mexican club's coach Jose Guadalupe Cruz suggested his side's win was anything but straightforward. "Auckland was a big test, they played a serious game," said Cruz. "It might have looked like an easy game but it was not. We were playing ourselves at the same time; every minute is serious in this tournament, the level is very high - the players know this.
"We knew it would be a difficult match and we did well considering we haven't played for a month. The effort was tremendous and we are very happy to have won. Obviously it will be a little more difficult in the next match." Atlante face Barcelona in the Club World Cup semi-finals on Wednesday and Cruz is confident. Eager to save the 33-year-old former Real Madrid man Santiago Solari, he took off his midfield linchpin for the last 20 minutes against Auckland, with the game with Barca in mind.
"We are playing against a different type of team," he said. "We want to measure ourselves against the best and we are preparing to beat the best. Barca will not have it easy and we are full of confidence to go for a strong win. Somebody has to win, somebody has to lose - we'll approach all our rivals with respect, but boldness." With the Catalan side eyeing their first Club World Cup triumph, Cruz is expecting the Spanish champions to field a full-strength line-up. The Atlante coach, however, is refusing to surrender his own team's attacking principles and insisted stopping Barca's eye-catching forwards will not guarantee success.
"Individuals do not matter, we have to be careful of every player in the Barca side," said Cruz. "Going after one player is not a good tactic. They are compact and we will not mark one here or there. We respect their game, they play with fantastic aplomb and are very assured, but we'll work to maintain all 11. "To neutralise their strikers we will need slightly different tactics; our defence must be strong and fight for every ball. It is important we apply our own style and do not experiment. We must do what we do well and be alert.
"There are no magic tricks. We must play well, do things by the book and not make costly mistakes. "Minute details can be big advantages. Breaking their defence will not be child's play, but we hope to produce surprises." firstname.lastname@example.org