ABU DHABI - Inter Milan, looking to redress their shaky season with victory in the Club World Cup, are being careful not to play up their status as favourites in Saturday's final against TP Mazembe of DR Congo.
The African champions became the first team from outside Europe and South America to reach the final when they upset Internacional of Brazil 2-0 on Tuesday, consigning the South Americans to the third-place play-off.
"In a final there are no favourites, especially in today's football," captain Javier Zanetti told a news conference on Friday at the match venue, the Zayed Sports City stadium.
"This one is very balanced, no one gives anything away. I think in this match we start equal, it would be a mistake to think we are favourites," he said before Inter's practice.
"It's a great opportunity to take Inter to the top of the world. We know it will be difficult but we hope to play a great match and win."
Inter are looking for their third world title after winning this tournament's predecessor, the single-match Intercontinental Cup played by the European and South American champions, in 1964 and 1965 after twice beating Independiente of Argentina.
Zanetti, who scored in the 3-0 semi-final win over Asian champions Seongnam of South Korea on Wednesday, was bizarrely asked if his always well-groomed appearance was for good luck.
"It doesn't bother me, only that in the end the team should play well and win. After that, I could be the worst combed man in the world, but nothing will change my joy," he said grinning.
Coach Rafael Benitez, whose job could be on the line if Inter lose in the United Arab Emirates, said winning could set his side up for a better remainder of the season after sinking to seventh in Serie A.
"When a team has some difficulties, as in this case especially with injured players, to win a top level tournament is always positive and can help us to have a better second half of the season," he said.
Inter will be without Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder, who pulled a muscle in his left leg after only two minutes on Wednesday, but Brazilian defender Maicon is fit to start.
Midfielder Esteban Cambiasso, Zanetti's Argentina team mate, has won the world title before when he helped Real Madrid beat Olimpia of Paraguay in 2002 in the Intercontinental Cup final.
Cambiasso said winning this tournament would mean more to him having helped Inter, whom he joined in 2004, right through their victorious Champions League campaign last season. He had only just joined Real when they played the 2002 match in Japan.
"I was able to run the whole course with my team mates so this one would have a more special flavour," he said.