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Defeated in two of their opening three games and four points shy of the top two in UEFA Europa League Group K, Rosenborg BK are under no illusions about what lies in store at FC Metalist Kharkiv.
Rosenborg may have begun their campaign with a 2-1 victory at SK Rapid Wien but subsequent losses to Bayer 04 Leverkusen (1-0) and Metalist (2-1) have left them facing an uphill struggle. Throw in the absence through injury of Tarik Elyounoussi – scorer of two of their three group stage goals – and Rosenborg's task in Kharkiv looks an unenviable one. If that were not enough, there is also Metalist's record of just one loss in their last nine European home assignments.
"Metalist are a very strong team with brilliant attacking players, so it's a very big ask to beat them at their own stadium," said Rosenborg defender Mikael Dorsin. "After losing at home we obviously know we have not got much chance of reaching the knockout phase.
We could have a long discussion about tactics but the way to victory is always simple. We need to score more goals than our opponents."
Coach Jan Jönsson, whose side are four points adrift of Norwegian Premier Division leaders Molde FK with two games remaining, is also without John Chibuike for the trip to Ukraine. "After analysing the game in Trondheim we have some ideas about how to succeed in Kharkiv," he said. "We need to be as effective as possible in attack.
"Metalist are a quality team who play attractive football, making the most of the individual skills of their South Americans. It's therefore very hard to compete with them. We are strong in defence but we will have to play attacking football because of the situation in the group."
Jönsson's Metalist counterpart Myron Markevich is grappling with problems of his own after overseeing two straight losses for the Premier-Liha's fourth-placed club. "There are a variety of reasons for our recent defeats," he said. "We can talk about mental problems as
I have to admit that some players haven't been at their best in recent games.
"Maybe people are right when they say we play better in the Europa League than in the Ukrainian championship. But we are not going to raise the white flag as we want to continue on both fronts. We are pulling in the same direction every day and I'm sure you will soon see the results. Except for José Ernesto Sosa, who has an ankle problem and missed our recent games, everyone is ready to play."
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