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Panathinaikos and København full of hope

Coach Nikos Nioplias says that home advantage makes Panathinaikos FC favourites in what he considers a must-win game against an FC København team in confident mood.

Panathinaikos and København full of hope
Panathinaikos and København full of hope ©UEFA.com

The coaches of Panathinaikos FC and FC København struck confident notes ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League Group D encounter in Athens. Nikos Nioplias believes his side, thrashed 5-1 at FC Barcelona on Matchday 1, are favourites thanks to home advantage but Ståle Solbakken reckons the form FCK showed in beating FC Rubin Kazan 1-0 can continue.

Nikos Nioplias, Panathinaikos coach
If we are to have a chance of getting through to the next round, we have to win tomorrow's match. Barcelona are in a class of their own and the remaining three teams in the group will battle for second place. København have a slight advantage over us because they already have three points and we have to change that tomorrow. Our goal is to win and it doesn't really matter if we concede a goal in the process.

We're the favourites because we're playing at home. They're a physical side, they're confident, tactically sound and have a couple of high-quality players. But they do have weaknesses and have less individual quality than Panathinaikos. If we're on our game I believe we will win.

Ståle Solbakken, København coach
We can't wait for the match to start. There will be a passionate capacity crowd but that's something positive for us. Southern European fans are more hot-blooded. I believe we have a good chance of winning. I believe in our team. It will be difficult because Panathinaikos are a good side. But I'm confident.

We play a strictly zonal defence. Panathinaikos are more man-to-man. We play a more modern system, at least I think so. I'm confident because I don't think the teams differ much in terms of quality. Panathinaikos do have individual talents but we have been in very good form and we want to win this game.

Team news
Sidney Govou strained his right thigh in training on Sunday, ruling him out against København along with Cédric Kanté who broke his finger in weekend league action. Nikos Spyropoulos (knee) and Giourkas Seitaridis (quadriceps) are not considered fit enough. Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (right foot) has resumed training but Antonis Petropoulos (groin) is not expected to return for another fortnight.

Christián Bolaños is thought to have overcome an ankle problem but Sölvi Ottesen is likely to be out until late October after breaking his arm. Also unavailable are Martin Bergvold, sidelined until November with a knee complaint, and Morten Nordstrand, who has not featured since March after picking up thigh and groin injuries on loan at FC Groningen.

Weekend results
25/09/10 Panathinaikos 2-1 Panionios GSS
(Ninis 44, Katsouranis 63; Kumordzi 90)
Sotiris Ninis and Kostas Katsouranis scored their first goals of the season although Ninis's night ended on a sour note when he was dismissed in added time. It was Panathinaikos's first game of the season at the Olympic Stadium, which had been closed for a concert before having a new pitch laid.

25/09/10 FC Midtjylland 0-3 København
(Pospěch 11, Claudemir 39, N'Doye 70)
FCK extended their unbeaten start to the Super League season to ten games against second-placed Midtjylland. Their haul of 26 points is a record for this stage of a Danish top-flight campaign. Claudemir got his first goal for FCK, while Dame N'Doye struck for the third time in four outings.

Did you know?
These clubs met three years ago in Copenhagen in the home team's only previous European fixture against Greek opposition. The 2007/08 UEFA Cup group match ended 1-0 to the visitors after an early goal by N'Doye, who now plays for the Danish side. FCK substitute Hjalte Nørregaard missed a penalty.

See the match background for more information.