As they aim to overturn a 2-1 deficit against SL Benfica in Wednesday's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round second leg in Denmark, FC København have been buoyed by the news that striker Marcus Allbäck will be available for selection.
A groin injury kept Allbäck out of Saturday's goalless draw at Odense BK but the 34-year-old has been passed fit for the visit of José Antonio Camacho's side – raising the spirits of København coach Staale Solbakken, whose team sit fifth in the Superligaen. "I can still feel the injury a little, but I'll be completely fit by Wednesday night," said Swedish international Allbäck, who scored in both legs of the second qualifying round win against Beitar Jerusalem FC.
The Danish champions, however, must attempt to reach the promised land of the group stage for the second year running without winger Jesper Grønkjær, who is suspended after being booked a fortnight ago. With his pace and dribbling ability, Grønkjær is a major supply line for Allbäck and his in-form strike partner Atiba Hutchinson – København's scorer in Lisbon – and his absence will be keenly felt according to Denmark coach Morten Olsen. "The result in Lisbon means FCK definitely have a chance and I would say it is 50/50," said Olsen. "Being without Grønkjær will be a big handicap but they have other great players – and 40,000 spectators behind them."
Benfica coach Camacho, who replaced Fernando Santos a week after the first leg, agrees that his side's advantage is slim. "A 2-1 lead is slender in a UEFA Champions League tie so we have to score," said Camacho. "If they score first we will have to work much harder. We cannot defend for 90 minutes. We must play our usual game so that we can win this match."
Camacho, who began his reign with a 0-0 Portuguese Liga draw at home to Vitória SC on Saturday, has defensive worries: Marc Zoro and Luisão have thigh injuries while David Luiz has a broken foot. Luisão will undergo a late fitness test yet there is better news with Konstantinos Katsouranis recovered from a thigh complaint and likely to be deployed in the back line.
"We only miss players that are fit," Camacho said. "If Luisão isn't fit then we will not miss him. In such a case Miguel Vítor could play." Homegrown teenager Miguel Vítor was blooded at the weekend in a depleted Benfica rearguard. Up front, Nuno Gomes and Óscar Cardozo are expected to be combined with debutant Angel Di María, who helped Argentina win this summer's FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada.
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