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Barcelona stars meet tsunami survivors

updated 1:58 PM EST, Wed December 14, 2011
Stars from Spanish and European champions Barcelona meet victims affected by Japan's tsunami in Yokohama.
Stars from Spanish and European champions Barcelona meet victims affected by Japan's tsunami in Yokohama.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Barcelona's players meet tsunami survivors in Japan ahead of Al Sadd match
  • European champions to play Qatari side in semifinals of FIFA Club World Cup
  • Barca give 11 youngsters displaced from the Fukushima region a club shirt each
  • Al Sadd's Nadir Belhadj thinks the match will be a "celebration" for his teammates

(CNN) -- Spanish and European champions Barcelona took a break from their preparations for the FIFA Club World Cup semifinals by meeting children displaced by Japan's devastating tsunami.

The club, who beat arch rivals Real Madrid 3-1 on Saturday, are in Japan for the tournament and face Qatari side Al Sadd in their final four clash Thursday.

Before a training session in Yokohama, the club's stars, including FIFA world player of the year Lionel Messi, met 11 children who used to live near the Fukushima power station, hit by March's earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the area and killed an estimated 15,000 people.

Many of the children, aged between nine and 18, lost relatives in the disaster and now live in a Tokyo school. Each of them received a Barcelona shirt with their name on the back.

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The club won the tournament in 2009, and defender Gerard Pique has urged his teammates to grasp the opportunity to be crowned the best club side on the planet for the second time.

"We can't miss out on chances like this," the former Manchester United player told his club's official website.

"We haven't yet adapted to the time change or recovered from such a long journey. We trained a bit harder today and tomorrow we'll train even harder."

We should treat this match as a celebration. Lionel Messi and Barca are on another planet
Nadir Belhadj, Al-Sadd

Pique said Saturday's 3-1 victory over Real Madrid in a match known as 'El Clasico', which took Pep Guardiola's side to the top of Spain's La Liga, had filled the team with confidence.

He added: "We are very happy with our play and the result. We left feeling that we're on the right track and doing things well. The team knew we were able to win there."

As for Asian Champions League winners Al Sadd, a clash with Barcelona is their reward for beating African team Esperance in a controversial quarterfinal clash that was marred by crowd trouble.

Defender Nadir Belhadj, who has also played for French side Lyon, says the players can't wait to test themselves against some of the world's best.

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"We should treat this match as a celebration," he told FIFA's official website. "We'll be well prepared to put in a good performance, but the main aim will be to enjoy ourselves. We'll need to pull together.

"This Barca side is the best in the world, as we saw once again with their impressive display in the 'Clasico' against Real Madrid."

Belhadj admitted Al Sadd will have to be at their best to limit the threat posed by Argentina striker Messi, who already has 17 league goals to his name in 16 games this season.

"Lionel Messi and Barca are on another planet," he said. "We'll play with the resources we have, and with a group of players that has already helped us to achieve big things.

"The chance to face Barcelona is extremely satisfying in itself. It is possible to guess what Messi is going to do, but actually stopping him from doing it is another matter."

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