Champions League last 16, first leg
Kick-off: 19:45 (BST)
After two months without a competitive game, FC Copenhagen “are buzzing” ahead of the Champions League round of 16 visit of Chelsea, according to coach Stale Solbakken.
Copenhagen are unbeaten in the Superligaen this season and lead by 19 points ahead of Odense, with bitter city rivals Brondby two points further back in third place.
“Tomorrow is the night we have looked forward to for months,” said Solbakken. “We have been preparing for this match since the start of January and although we haven’t had a competitive match in 2011 we are in fine shape and hopefully close to the level we were in the group stage. The players are buzzing with confidence and I feel we can match Chelsea in what I expect to be a close game.
“We will try to control the game, keep possession, create chances and try to exploit any eventual Chelsea errors. Chelsea are not in the best of form at the moment, but I feel they have played better than their results showed in their last couple of games.
“The crowd’s belief in us will be a great help: 7,000 of our supporters had confidence that we could win when we played at Camp Nou and with a full stadium tomorrow we will benefit massively. I hope we will win, but a scoreless draw will not be a bad result for us.”
Copenhagen are unbeaten at home in this competition, which began with a qualifier in Belarus in August, a run which has imbued Solbakken’s players with confidence.
“Some of my players are daft enough to think they’re a better side than Chelsea now,” said Solbakken.
“Maybe I should be talking them down a bit. Some have only lost one or two games playing in this side, so they think it’s easy. Maybe my players will be freer to express themselves than Chelsea.
“This is the last competition they can win, so maybe that will distract them a little bit I’ll be surprised if it’s not an even game.”
Carlo Ancelotti is well aware of the Danish side’s quality from their fine group-stage performances that ensured they became the first Danish side to reach the knockout stages.
“The Champions League is the most important competition for us right now,” said the Italian. “We’re under a lot of pressure, but even though things recently have not gone as planned, the players’ behaviour has been fantastic. This is football – you can’t always stay on top, but if we have patience we can turn this around. It could still be a great season.
“Copenhagen are a very good team who showed a lot of quality in the group stage. They have fantastic organisation and their work ethic is second to none. It will be difficult but if we have courage we can win.”
Fernando Torres, the club’s record £50 million signing arrived in the Danish capital to hear that he was the “key” to Chelsea’s prospects of winning the Champions League this season.
Could be make the difference in winning the competition? “I hope so,” Ancelotti said. “He has fantastic quality.”
Ancelotti is without Alex and Yossi Benayoun are long-term absentees, but Yuri Zhirkov is back in action after suffering a calf strain in Russia’s defeat by Belgium on 17 November. Recent signing David Luiz is ineligible.