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Claudemir charged up as FCK eye progress

Claudemir is readying himself for "the biggest game" of his career on Tuesday as FC København welcome Panathinaikos FC knowing a win would guarantee progress to the last 16.

Claudemir fired FCK's equaliser against Barcelona on Matchday 4
Claudemir fired FCK's equaliser against Barcelona on Matchday 4 ©Getty Images

Claudemir is gearing up for "the biggest game" of his career on Tuesday as FC København host Group D rivals Panathinaikos FC knowing victory would propel them through to the knockout phase.

With FC Barcelona already assured of top spot in the section, København lie one point ahead of FC Rubin Kazan in second and need only match the Russian club's result at Camp Nou to progress. "I think it's the biggest game of my career, and not just for me but for the whole team here," said midfielder Claudemir.

"We have the ability and our aim is to qualify for the next round, and we know that depends on us and no one else. We have a good chance of winning and getting through to the next phase." Indeed, opponents Panathinaikos are certain of finishing bottom whatever happens and were beaten 2-0 when the Danish titleholders visited on Matchday 2. Yet Claudemir expects them to prove tough opponents.

"It's another difficult game," said the 22-year-old. "We know a bit about them having played them at their place, but we can't assume it'll be an easy match just because they are last in the group. We know we have the potential as we're a good team as well. We know we can get a good result."

Snapped up from Dutch club Vitesse in the summer, the box-to-box player insists he and his team-mates will not be distracted by events in Catalonia as they chase victory. "Obviously Barcelona are favourites in any contest they're involved in, but we can't think about that game," he said. "I'm sure the fans will be watching our game and listening to the other [on the radio], but we players have to stay focused on our match."

Claudemir's last appearance at the Parken Stadion in the competition brought him FCK's equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Barcelona on Matchday 4 – "an incredible experience". He will be looking for more of the same against Panathinaikos as he continues repaying the faith of coach Ståle Solbakken.

"He's supported me and believed in me, because he was the one who saw a DVD of me and asked the board to sign me," explained the Brazilian-born youngster. "Obviously he's a tough guy but he's very fair; he knows when to demand more and when to support us. He can congratulate and be demanding." FCK fans will hope congratulations are in order come the final whistle on Tuesday.