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Group F

A win over Ajax in the final qualifying round was enough to secure a moment of history for the Superligaen club.

It is the first time that the Danish champions have made it to the group stage of the Champions League and coach Stale Solbakken feels his side are capable of overcoming last season’s quarter-finalists.

“It is a great achievement for a club such as ours to reach the group stage,” said the Norwegian “Now we have six games to learn more and improve the quality of this group of players.

“I am quite confident about getting a result.

“The reason I say that is not how I rate Benfica but how I rate my own players and my own team. I know that on our day we can take points off anyone and that includes Benfica.”

FC Copenhagen will be without the suspended Marcus Allback meaning that Jesper Gronkjær is expected to support Fredrik Berglund up front, while goalkeeper Jesper Christiansen has declared himself fit after shaking off a back injury.

“I don’t think they (Benfica) are looking forward to this game,” Solbakken added.

“Mentally, this match will be tougher for them than for us. The pressure is all on Benfica and that will also play on the minds of their players. It is a 50-50 game and I don’t think there will be too many chances.”

The Danish outfit have also been boosted by the news that Benfica playmaker Rui Costa will be missing because of a thigh strain.

Benfica coach Fernando Santos played down the loss of Rui Costa, but admits it is vital for his team to get off to a winning start.

“It is very important to start with a victory,” said the coach. “The first game is always the most important. We have come here to get a win but we know the difficulties we will face against FC Copenhagen.”

Winger Simao should start although not fully fit and he is determined to secure the win tonight.

“Beating Ajax was an impressive achievement and we know we are facing a good side,” said Simao. “I am still not 100 per cent fit but I am capable of helping the team and we will do everything to win.”

Probable teams
FC Copenhagen:
Jesper Christiansen; Lars Jacobsen, Brede Hangeland, Michael Gravgaard, André Bergdolmo; Michael Silberbauer, Tobias Linderoth, Hjalte Nørregaard, Atiba Hutchinson; Jesper Gronkjær, Fredrik Berglund.

Quim; Alcides, Luisão, Ricardo Rocha, Léo; Paulo Jorge, Petit, Nuno Assis, Konstantinos Katsouranis; Nuno Gomes, Simao.

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