x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Atlante set up Barca clash

Santiago Solari, their former Real Madrid midfielder, calls it the biggest game in the Mexican club's history.

Atlante's Daniel Arreola, centre, is mobbed by his teammates after scoring his side's opening goal in the 3-0 victory over Auckland City in the Club World Cup quarter-final at Zayed Sports City last night.
Atlante's Daniel Arreola, centre, is mobbed by his teammates after scoring his side's opening goal in the 3-0 victory over Auckland City in the Club World Cup quarter-final at Zayed Sports City last night.

ABU DHABI // Atlante will meet Barcelona in the semi-final of the Fifa Club World Cup on Wednesday in what Santiago Solari, their former Real Madrid midfielder, has called the biggest game in the Mexican club's history. Solari provided the inspiration behind the 3-0 victory over Auckland City last night and he will surely help his coach, Jose Gaudalupe Cruz, compile a dossier on the European champions having spent five years in Spain.

"This means so much for Atl-ante," said Solari. "This is the most important game in the 95 years of our history. "We are very happy, it was not an easy game against Auckland. We had to be so patient and it is very dangerous when the other team plays so deep - they can surprise you any time." Solari insists Atlante will not change their free-flowing style against Pep Guardiola's side in the semi-final.

"We will try to play our football against Barcelona - we cannot play a defensive game," said Solari. "We must keep the ball, play open football and try to attack. For us, the result does not matter as much as playing our football. We will stick to our footballing ideals and play the way we know." Solari is the elder statesman in Atlante's otherwise youthful team, and the experienced Argentine revealed he will tell his junior colleagues to go out and savour the experience.

"I will tell the young players to enjoy it," said Solari. "The result doesn't matter. We know the difference between ourselves and Barcelona. "No doubt, they are the best team in recent history and are in another league. "Maybe I'll get a few texts from the old Real boys, but I don't know what we can do about it," he laughed. emegson@thenational.ae