Should Aalborg BK pull off the seemingly impossible and beat the holders Manchester United FC in Group E on Tuesday, then coach Bruce Rioch believes it will send "an earthquake" through the whole of Denmark.
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Should Aalborg BK pull off the seemingly impossible and beat UEFA Champions League holders Manchester United FC in their Group E encounter on Tuesday, then their coach Bruce Rioch believes it will send "an earthquake" through the whole of Denmark.
Rioch was in excitable mood as he spoke on the eve of AaB's first meeting with United, describing it as the biggest match in the Danish club's history and one which has been on everyone's mind in this small northern city ever since the draw was made in Monaco last month. There will be a heated atmosphere inside the compact 10,000-seat Aalborg Stadium, and if AaB prevail, Rioch predicts the noise generated will be so loud it will be heard across the country. "This is a massive game and has got the whole city buzzing," he enthused. "It will be a tough evening for us but if we do win our supporters are sure to go crazy. It will be like an earthquake going off – everyone in Denmark will feel it."
Winning, however, is easier said than done. AaB go into this match on the back of a poor start to their domestic season. The Superligaen champions have taken just seven points from their first eight games, sitting one place above the relegation zone, although they did reach the Danish Cup quarter-finals by beating Brønshøj BK on Friday. But Rioch is not concerned, especially after the encouraging draw at Celtic FC in his native Scotland a fortnight ago. "I've told my players to enjoy this game and they're ready," he added. "We're going to try and play football. I've never once sent a team out which I haven't thought can get a result, and I won't start now." There are no fresh injury concerns for Rioch, although Michael Jakobsen serves a one-match suspension.
The holders travelled to Scandinavia in the wake of Saturday's 2-0 victory over Bolton Wanders FC, only their second Premier League win of the campaign, yet without Gary Neville and Owen Hargreaves. After the goalless home draw with Villarreal CF on Matchday 1, Sir Alex was left to fend off accusations that his side are suffering a hangover after last term's fantastic achievements at home and abroad. "Villarreal got us at a good time, when we were still advancing towards our best form. I think we're in much better shape now," he said. "The players realise how important qualifying for the next stage is. We have a difficult game on Tuesday because they will be well-motivated and will have fantastic support, so we have to handle these things and hopefully get the right result.
"The most important thing is that Aalborg get our respect. We must make sure we don't fall into any traps and play to our best level," added Sir Alex, who hopes Dimitar Berbatov can finally register his first goal for the club following his €38m deadline-day move from Tottenham Hotspur FC. "Dimitar showed in patches against Bolton what he can do and once the players fully realise how good his movement is, I'm sure everything will click for him and he'll get goals for us," he said.