Ståle Solbakken says FC København will have "a fighting chance of progressing" if they get the better of an FC Rubin Kazan side confident of picking up at least a point in the Danish capital.
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Points are already at a premium in UEFA Champions League Group D according to FC København coach Ståle Solbakken who considers his charges' opening game like "a final" as they look to get off to a winning start against their Russian visitors, FC Rubin Kazan. With Panathinaikos FC and FC Barcelona to follow, Rubin coach Kurban Berdyev knows also that a positive start could be key to success in the section and goes into the game with confidence high despite facing a "disciplined team with very few weaknesses".
Ståle Solbakken, København coach
This match is vital for FC København. This one and the home game against Panathinaikos are our best chances of picking up three points. If we win we will have a fighting chance of progressing, so for us tomorrow is a final as we are determined to play European football after Christmas. Rubin Kazan are very good defensively, but if we play well we should be able to create chances and at the same time contain their offence and prevent them creating chances. Their new attacking midfielder, Brazilian international Carlos Eduardo, played well on his debut at the weekend and it is important that we close him down and do not give him any chances from set-pieces near our penalty area.
Kurban Berdyev, Rubin coach
We are in a difficult group and have the utmost respect for København. We expect them to put us under pressure, but still fancy our chances of getting at least a point. We have never met a Danish side in a competitive match but our scouts have been at København's recent matches and see them as a disciplined team with very few weaknesses. They have a lot of quality, especially in attack. Barcelona are the favourites to win the group but we hope to qualify for the next round and are looking forward to enjoying this Champions League experience, testing ourselves against the finest in Europe.
Martin Bergvold is expected to be sidelined until November after suffering a knee injury in the win against Lyngby BK on 21 August. Morten Nordstrand has not played since March after picking up thigh and groin injuries while on loan at FC Groningen.
Roman Sharonov is likely to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. César Navas is suspended.
11/09/10 København 2-2 Silkeborg IF
(Santin 57, N'Doye 59; Svensson 19, Saag 54)
København extended their unbeaten start to the Danish Super League season to eight games against a Silkeborg side propping up the table. Their haul of 20 points is their best ever at this stage, and they have won six of their last eight games in all competitions.
11/09/10 Rubin 3-0 FC Amkar Perm
(Eduardo 26 52, Martins 86pen)
Carlos Eduardo marked his Rubin debut with two goals, while Obafemi Martins' strike was his first in club football since scoring for VfL Wolfsburg against his new employers on 18 March. Rubin, who sit second in the Russian Premier League six points behind FC Zenit St. Petersburg, are five matches unbeaten and have won their last five home games.
Did you know?
The champions of Denmark and Russia – who both successfully defended titles they had claimed the previous year – have each held a place at Europe's top table once before. The Russian side first featured 12 months ago in a memorable debut campaign in which they produced a remarkable 2-1 win at holders Barcelona, the Spanish giants who are again in the same section. Rubin followed that with a goalless draw in the return to enhance their reputation as a surprise package in last year's competition.
For more information see the match background.