Zinedine Zidane
Real Madrid's head coach Zinedine Zidane attends the news conference ahead of FIFA Club World Cup semifinal match against Club America, in Yokohama, Japan, Dec. 14, 2016. Reuters/Issei Kato

Zinedine Zidane has dismissed suggestions that Real Madrid will be an overwhelming favorite for its FIFA Club World Cup semifinal Thursday against Concacaf Champions League winner Club América in Yokohama, Japan.

Madrid is looking to win the competition for the second time in three years. And, while no representative from Concacaf has ever made the final of the competition, which became an annual event in 2005, no European Champions League winner has failed to get through the semifinal stage.

"I do not think we're favorites," Zidane said during his pre-match press conference on Wednesday. "We're going to have to play a game that...we’ll have to be careful. A lot of people may think that we will win easily. We are going to play against a very good opponent that can cause us problems. The game is not won and that's what I'm going to tell my team."

Real Madrid also arrived in Japan on a club-record 35-match unbeaten streak that has seen it take a six-point lead atop La Liga and progress to the knockout phase of the Champions League. Zidane insists, though, that full focus will be put on making sure that run stretches to 36 matches.

"You can win 35 games and then lose the 36th and you’re in trouble," Zidane, who will have captain Sergio Ramos unavailable for the semifinal due to a minor injury, said. "We are focused on what we have to do tomorrow. You can win 45 or 50 matches and in the next one you have to do the same and win again. Tomorrow is an important match and gives us the opportunity to get into the final. We want to win and we will try to do everything we can to win the competition."

Real Madrid’s opponent on Thursday may well take inspiration from the Club World Cup’s first semifinal, played on Wednesday. While not on the same scale as a potential Club América victory over Real Madrid, Kashima Antlers’ 3-0 triumph over South American champion Atlético Nacional certainly registered as an upset. The J-League winners, the only side in the competition not a champion of its continent, will now await in the final.

Unlike Real Madrid, which received a bye into the semifinals, Club América has already had to get through one match to make it this far. It was a significant hurdle, too, given that the Mexican giants fell at the quarterfinal stage a year ago.

And there will have been fears of a repeat when Club América went a goal down to Asian Champions League winners Jeonbuk Hyundai on Sunday. But a double from forward Silvio Romero in the second half ensured that the team wouldn’t be on the first plane home.

The win also now provides Club América with a showpiece contest at the climax of what is its centenary year. Yet despite the prestige of the match and the fact that he will be squaring off with one of the legends of the sport, Club América coach Ricardo La Volpe will not be breaking his routine of declining to shake the opposing manager’s hand ahead of the game.

"I'm afraid we'll be cursed if I shake hands," he said ahead of the semifinal. "Greet the opposing coach before the match? Since when have they done that in Europe?"

Probable Lineups

Real Madrid

Club América

Kickoff Time: 5:30 a.m. EST
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer 2Go