By Brian Homewood
AGADIR, Morocco, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Few things worry Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola more than a team of underdogs coached by an Italian, making him especially wary of Tuesday's Club World Cup semi-final against Guangzhou Evergrande.
The Asian and Chinese champions are managed by Marcello Lippi and, although Guardiola has never faced the Italian World Cup winner as a coach, the alarm bells are ringing.
"Italian teams, when they are not favourites, they are so, so dangerous and you have to prepare as well as possible and play a good game," the Spaniard told reporters.
"It's an honour for me to play against him, one of the most successful coaches in the world," added Guardiola who twice won the Club World Cup as coach of Barcelona.
He said European teams had to understand how seriously the tournament was taken by the rest of the world.
"Everyone thinks Bayern are favourites but there are a lot of dangers. They have very, very good organisation when they don't have the ball and three or four players of huge, huge quality," added Guardiola.
"I am very surprised by the quality of (playmaker) Dario Conca, of (Brazilian striker) Elkeson and (China captain) Zheng Zhi, a very experienced player.
"For European teams to be successful in this tournament we have to realise how important it is in Africa, Asia, South America and in CONCACAF."
Guardiola's players, who faced Hamburg SV in freezing Munich on Saturday, said the squad knew little about Guangzhou who they face in the balmy resort of Agadir.
"I can't say too much, I don't know the players," said midfielder Toni Kroos. "It's difficult to talk about them when you don't know much about the team."
Defender Jerome Boateng also had little idea of what the European champions would be facing.
"I don't know so much about the team but we will look at some videos about them," he said. (Editing by Tony Jimenez)