Club America relishing semifinal match against Real Madrid

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YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) Club America midfielder William da Silva is relishing his team’s Club World Cup semifinal match against Real Madrid on Thursday.

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The Mexican side came from behind to beat South Korean club Jeonbuk Hyundai 2-1 on Sunday, and is aiming to become the first club from the CONCACAF region to reach the Club World Cup final.

“It’s in the past the times where a jersey could win games by itself, instead of the players,” da Silva said Tuesday. “Today, the players are the ones who make difference. And I believe our team is strong enough to beat them.

“We know that, as players, if you compare name by name, they have a bigger history than we do. But, as they do, we also represent a great club.”

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Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has said that he knew little of Club America before this competition, but da Silva took no offense and insisted the players have to make an impression on the field.

“I am not surprised, to be honest, because that’s the truth. He’s telling the truth,” da Silva said. “But we will make ourselves known on Thursday. We have to do the things in the right way, push hard, work a lot, so we can achieve what we came here for.”

America has extra motivation — being the club’s centenary year — and da Silva is determined to mark the occasion with a fitting performance against Madrid.

“This is the match of our 100th anniversary. And it’s not happening because it was a gift given to us,” da Silva said. “On the contrary, we fought very hard to be here.”

Madrid also held a training session on Tuesday, and Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo was taking part at Mitsuzawa Stadium. He is expected to be back in the lineup for Thursday’s match after being rested for the 3-2 Spanish league win over Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday.

Madrid captain Sergio Ramos was absent, though, nursing a slight knock.

Madrid is huge favorite to pick up its second Club World Cup title and is unbeaten in all competitions since April 6. That run has set a club record, with the team undefeated in 35 games.

If Madrid does win the trophy in Yokohama on Sunday, it would add to Europe’s dominance of the competition, with the continent’s representative victorious in eight of the last nine editions.