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Kvist issues rallying cry as FCK return

FC København midfielder William Kvist tells UEFA.com why the Danish titleholders are relishing their return to the UEFA Champions League and why they can do better than first time round.

William Kvist is optimistic about FCK's prospects in Group D
William Kvist is optimistic about FCK's prospects in Group D ©Getty Images

After emerging victorious from a thrilling all-Scandinavian contest against Norwegian champions Rosenborg BK, FC København will step back on to European football's biggest stage on Tuesday night and William Kvist, for one, does not hide his excitement. "This is huge," the FCK midfielder told UEFA.com. "It will be a challenge, but one we are looking forward to – the atmosphere is electric."

The Danish titleholders embark on their first UEFA Champions League campaign since 2006 with a home match against Russian side FC Rubin Kazan and Kvist is optimistic about their chances of playing European football beyond Christmas. That said, Kvist, who will most likely captain his side with Hjalte Nørregaard expected to start on the bench, considers the opening fixture as potentially key in a section that also includes FC Barcelona and Panathinaikos FC.

"It is very important that we avoid defeat and hopefully secure all three points," he said. "Our goal is to qualify for the next stage whether it is the knockout round of the Champions League or the Europa League. Of course we hope for the best, but we are also realistic and know that it will be extremely difficult to finish second behind Barcelona, but we are confident and have prepared well."

After last term's disappointing play-off defeat against Cypriot side APOEL FC, FCK made amends against Rosenborg but it was a close call. In the first leg in Norway, the Danish titleholders were on the back foot for most of the match and had Rade Prica's 81st-minute effort not hit the post they would have been 3-0 down and all but eliminated. Instead Jesper Grønkjær reduced the deficit three minutes later and in the return at Parken, København secured a well deserved 1-0 victory and qualification on the away-goals rule.

Kvist believes they are better equipped than on their competition debut in 2006/07. "We have played a lot of European matches in recent seasons which have made us a better side. We are now more of a short passing side compared to our last Champions League adventure. Back then we were better defensively and physically stronger but now we have more strings in our attack and find creating chances easier. Hopefully we can get a good start but it will be difficult as Rubin are not a team that you just beat easily." The sense of respect is evidently mutual judging by Rubin midfielder Aleksandr Orekhov's assessment of their hosts. "FC København are a strong team," he said. "They play as a unit and have good offensive players."