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Neymar sits out Barca training ahead Club W/Cup semifinal

15 December 2015, 15:03

Yokohama — Injured striker Neymar sat out training for a second straight day Tuesday as Barcelona prepared for its Club World Cup semifinal.

Neymar now looks unlikely to play for the European champion, which is seeking a third Club World Cup crown, against Asian champion Guangzhou Evergrande of China.

He sustained a groin injury in training last week ahead of the Champions League match with Bayer Leverkusen.

Neymar also skipped Monday's practice, which took place only hours after the team arrived in Yokohama following an overnight flight.

Guangzhou Evergrande, coached by Neymar's Brazilian compatriot Luiz Felipe Scolari, is on a 28-match unbeaten run and beat Club America of Mexico in the previous round.

But European champion Barcelona is only just getting to know about its Chinese rival.

Also read: Neymar absent as Barcelona prepares for Club World Cup

"Between today and tomorrow, we will know more about the team — our manager, Luis Enrique, will inform us about their team, and our tactics," said Barcelona's left-sided player Jordi Alba said.

"But it will be a very difficult and complicated game, and difficult to reach the final. We will have to play very well."

Guangzhou Evergrande last lost in May, just before Scolari, who led Brazil to World Cup glory in 2002, became coach.

The Barcelona squad watched from Japan when the draw was made for the Champions League last 16 on Monday night European time.

Barcelona drew Arsenal in the first knockout stage, to be played in February. It was the third time in seven seasons the two clubs had been drawn to face each other.

Barcelona knocked out Arsenal in 2009-10 and 2010-11. But the London-based club looks to be mounting a serious Premier League title challenge for the first time in almost a decade.

"It will be more difficult than in other years," said Alba. "Arsenal seems to have improved, especially from midfield and from the attacking side.

"What we have done in the past doesn't help so much. It is a difficult draw and we will have to do our best to try to reach the next round, for Arsenal also has a good defense. But what has especially improved is the midfield and the forward line."

Barcelona won the Club World Cup — which has returned to Japan after a two-year stint in Morocco — in 2009 and 2011.

The tournament features the top clubs from FIFA's six continental confederations and the champion of the host country.

Wednesday's first semifinal sees River Plate, of Argentina, face Japan's Sanfrecce Hiroshima, in Osaka.

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.

- AP


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