Barcelona will look to move a step away from the Club World Cup title when they play unfancied Guangzhou Evergrande in the semifinals in Yokohama on Thursday.

After conquering Europe, be that in their own domestic front with the La Liga and Copa Del Rey titles, or in the continent with the Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup, Barcelona will look to stamp their mark as being the undisputed best club in the world at the moment with two victories in Japan.

Of course, the main man to fire them to the title will be Lionel Messi, who, despite all the criticisms for this tournament, is a great fan of the Club World Cup.

"It's a really nice competition, one of my favourites," Messi told FIFA's official website. "Both, because of its importance but also due to what it signifies -- having won the Champions League.

"And it gives you the opportunity to round off the year in the best possible way. So, I'm very happy to be with all my teammates, preparing for it. Our aim is to be able to lift that cup and then enjoy the holiday season with our families, with the championship in the bag."

Only two of the ridiculously-lethal MSN trio will be on the pitch for the semifinal, after Neymar was as good as ruled out with the groin problem sustained while playing in Europe. As much as it would be nice to win this title, there is no way Luis Enrique will risk arguably his best player this season, even in the final – provide Barcelona make it – if he isn't passed fully fit.

However, for Barcelona to break through what will definitely be a Luiz Felipe Scolari-drilled defensive wall, Messi and Luis Suarez, with some help from the playmakers behind, are more than enough.

"We must focus on defence and try not to concede a goal easily," Guangzhou Evergrande midfielder Zheng Zhi said. "But it is really down to our abilities and performance as to whether we can keep them at bay.

"In our last appearance at the Club World Cup back in 2013 we played against Bayern Munich but lost 3-0. We're glad to be facing the European champions again this time around. It's a great chance for us to see how we've progressed and also gain even more experience against tough opponents."

Barcelona vs Guangzhou Evergrande schedule: Club World Cup semifinal.

Date: Thursday, 17 December.

Time: 7.30 pm local time (4 pm IST, 10.30 am GMT, 11.30 am CET, 5.30 am ET).

Venue: International Stadium in Yokohama.

TV listings: India: Neo Sports and Neo Prime. Japan: NTV. Spain: Energy and Cuatro. USA, Argentina and Australia: Fox Sports. Canada: Sportsnet. China: PPTV Sports and CCTV. Middle East and North Africa: Bein Sports.