Johan Wiland has happy memories of FC København's last appearance in the UEFA Champions League and rightly so. It was the 2010/11 season, when they won three of their six group games and also earned a famous home draw with champions-elect FC Barcelona en route to the last 16.
It was the best of times for the Danish club – and, as Wiland freely admits, quite unlike their current plight. "Back then there were different types of players in the squad," recalls FCK's Swedish goalkeeper. "We had a lot of players who knew how to perform in huge competitions like the Champions League. We upped our level a lot in those matches and the team peaked that season. At the same time we performed very well in the Danish league and won the title."
Today, by contrast, as they prepare to return to the competition with a Group B home fixture against Juventus, things are rather different. "We are struggling in the league," says Wiland, 32, of a team with just one win from their opening eight Danish Superliga outings. "The problem this season is not that we don't have good players. We have great players and a strong team but the problem is that nobody in the squad has performed at the same time. We've not really performed as a group. Until now, when one player has been playing well, the rest have been struggling."
Their poor start meant that coach Ariël Jacobs was sacked in August, with Ståle Solbakken brought back to the club where he won five league titles. The question now is whether Solbakken can restore harmony to the Danish title holders. Wiland, now in his sixth season with the club, does not rule it out. "If we play at 110%, we have a small chance against Juventus," he says.
"The Champions League is something completely different.
Something happens inside your head when you step on to the pitch surrounded by thousands of fans with the Champions League anthem playing in the background." Whether the evening ends on a high note, though, remains to be seen.