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København confident as Chelsea await

Published: Friday 17 December 2010, 15.49CET
Unbeaten at home in the UEFA Champions League, FC København are looking forward to "playing a great team" in Chelsea FC when they make their first foray into the knockout stages.
København confident as Chelsea await
Jesper Grønkjær will renew acquaintances with his former club ©Getty Images

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Published: Friday 17 December 2010, 15.49CET

København confident as Chelsea await

Unbeaten at home in the UEFA Champions League, FC København are looking forward to "playing a great team" in Chelsea FC when they make their first foray into the knockout stages.

FC København are hoping their unbeaten home record in the UEFA Champions League will stand them in good stead when they meet Chelsea FC in the round of 16.

The first Danish club to reach this stage, FCK welcome Carlo Ancelotti's team to Parken Stadion on 22 February, with the return in London on 16 March. København have yet to lose in six matches in Europe's premier club competition on home soil. It is a run which includes a 1-0 win in 2006/07 against another Premier League club, Manchester United FC, and a 1-1 draw with FC Barcelona last month.

This, coupled with playing the first leg in Denmark, is significant for coach Ståle Solbakken. "We're looking forward to playing a great team with a great history," said the Norwegian. "It's good to have the first game at home because if we were playing at Stamford Bridge first, the second leg could count for nothing.

"We've never been beaten in a home Champions League game and we've played Manchester United, Barcelona and other great teams, so our challenge to is to do something in the first leg to keep the second game interesting."

The tie has a special meaning for FCK winger Jesper Grønkjær, who scored seven goals in 87 league appearances for Chelsea between 2001 and 2004. "He's looking forward to going back to Stamford Bridge to meet his former club," added Solbakken. "Chelsea have improved a lot since he was there."

FCK's triumph over United is their sole win in three home encounters with English opposition. The first of those was a 1-0 reverse against Chelsea in the 1998/99 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup second round, a game in which Graeme Le Saux − acting as an ambassador for the Blues at the draw in Nyon − featured.

"Draws are full of irony and seeing us against Copenhagen reminds me of playing them in the Cup Winners' Cup," explained the former England left-back. "We've had a couple of players linked to both clubs. Jesper Grønkjær is still playing, and playing very well, and there's Brian Laudrup."

Le Saux acknowledged that the draw could have been trickier but is well aware of what a dangerous proposition FCK can be. "It's a favourable draw in that we avoided one of the bigger teams on paper, but Copenhagen will be a tough match at this stage," he said. "It's a difficult place to go and they have good quality and talent throughout the team. On balance it's a decent draw for us."

Ancelotti added: "They had some good performances in their group; they were able to draw against Barcelona. Copenhagen don't have a lot of experience in the Champions League but we must pay attention. When you win the Premier League and FA Cup [like last season] the next step is to try and win a European competition."

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It's good to have the first game at home because if we were playing at Stamford Bridge first, the second leg could count for nothing
Ståle Solbakken
Last updated: 05/01/11 16.34CET

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