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Augustinussen glad to play the underdog

With Aalborg BK enduring an alarming slump in the Superligaen, captain Thomas Augustinussen says the Danish champions will relish the pressure being lifted as they revert to the role of underdog away to Villarreal CF.

Thomas Augustinussen holds off United's Dimitar Berbatov on Matchday 2
Thomas Augustinussen holds off United's Dimitar Berbatov on Matchday 2 ©Getty Images

It was just about this time last season that Aalborg BK awoke from their slumbers and went on a run which took them to the Danish title and all the way to the UEFA Champions League – how they could do with a repeat.

No crisis
Their captain, Thomas Augustinussen, believes the fact they had only eight points from seven games in the Superligaen last season but went on to become champions means there is no crisis as his side, just two points off the bottom of the Danish table, prepare to face Villarreal CF in Group E. In fact, he and his team-mates have apparently travelled to Spain in good spirits, relieved at the step up at a time when they need a respite from the doom and gloom surrounding their form in Denmark where Saturday's defeat to FC Nordsjælland left them with just eight points from ten matches.

Underdog status
"I can't tell you how much it means to our supporters that we are playing in this competition and against a great footballing side which has gained fame in Demark in recent seasons," explained the 27-year-old midfielder. "Because we are champions in our country we start every game as favourites and I'm sure we're going to enjoy the status of underdogs once again.

'Relaxed and confident'
"You could see at Celtic when we got a good 0-0 draw on Matchday 1 that we were relaxed and confident. The last couple of seasons in European competition have been great fun and I'm still very conscious it is only the fourth time a Danish team has made the Champions League group stage. Our good results this year and last against Sampdoria, Anderlecht, Tottenham Hotspur and Celtic have given us great satisfaction and a confidence which you don't lose quickly."

Flowing football
Augustinussen is, like many, a fan of Villarreal and their flowing brand of football. Yet he has studied his statistics well enough to know that Manuel Pellegrini's team often draw matches – four of their seven games at home in the UEFA Champions League have seen the points shared – or win by a single goal. AaB's captain sees a small window of opportunity in that fact, but laments the truth that opponents have generally found it easy to score against Bruce Rioch's team recently.

'Good unit'
"We've been conceding too many because when I watch Villarreal, and enjoy their play, they don't often win by huge scores," the Dane said. "We have good players and we're a good unit, we must stand and fight together to try and keep a clean sheet and then, in football, you never know. We're here to take back a point and we all want to match ourselves against Villarreal's players to see how we do. But the dream, now that we are in the Champions League, is to go out and win every game."