Ståle Solbakken hopes that Group B winners Real Madrid CF might lack their usual focus but knows his FC København side must still beware their counterattacking threat.
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FC København coach Ståle Solbakken is hoping the fact that Real Madrid CF have already qualified for the last 16 will work in his side's favour when they take on the runaway Group B winners on Tuesday.
"Perhaps it is a small advantage for us, since they are only human," said Solbakken, hoping for even the slightest drop in Madrid's usual intensity levels. While the Norwegian also pondered how to cope with Madrid's counterattacking threat, visiting coach Carlo Ancelotti sounded a cautious note about his opponents' "very impressive" home form.
If we can keep Real Madrid from hitting us on the break, it will be much harder for them to score. It is easy in theory but harder in practice. I am fairly confident they will field a very strong team since they rested quite a few players this weekend but then, I saw what their 'second string' did against Galatasaray winning 4-1, so they are strong no matter what.
It could both be an advantage or a disadvantage that Real Madrid have already qualified. They can play without the pressure of needing a win but it could also mean that they lose a bit of concentration. Perhaps it is a small advantage for us, since they are only human.
We played at Parken on Saturday so it is no problem that we cannot train there today. The pitch is not perfect because of all the wind and rain, but that is just how it is.
For me, Real Madrid is football history at the absolute highest level. It is probably the biggest club in the world. Ronaldo is the best counterattacking player in the world. I would love to still be undefeated at Parken after tomorrow's match. That would look good on our home record. I hope for a quick 4-0 lead and then we will drop a bit deeper to defend!
Saturday: København v FC Vestsjælland (Pourié 61)
Wiland, Jacobsen, Sigurdsson, Mellberg, Bengtsson, Delaney, Claudemir (Remmer 88) Bolaños (Kristensen 61) Toutouh, Vetokele, Santin (Pourié 60).
• Marvin Pourié scored with his first touch after coming off the bench to earn FCK their sixth straight home league win. Solbakken's side therefore head into the winter break six points shy of leaders FC Midtjylland.
Rúrik Gíslason (foot) is doubtful while according to Solbakken, it would be "hard" for Daniel Braaten (thigh) to be fit in time. However, the coach did say that Nicolai Jørgensen had "a fair chance" of playing after his own thigh problem.
We are delighted to be sure of a place in the next round as group winners. I know there are two Italian coaches [Roberto Mancini and Antonio Conte] battling for second place, but I have no preference as to who goes through. I am only focused on Real Madrid and this match.
København are a good team with excellent organisation and very strong at home. The results they have managed here in Copenhagen against Juventus and Galatasaray have been very impressive.
Saturday: CD Olímpic de Xàtiva 0-0 Real Madrid
Casillas; Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Nacho, Arbeloa (Marcelo 45); Illarramendi, Casemiro, Di María (Benzema 56), Isco (Modrić 73), José Rodríguez; Morata.
• Beaten finalists in last season's Copa del Rey, Madrid were held to a goalless draw by third-tier side Xàtiva in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The return in the Spanish capital takes place on 18 December.
Cristiano Ronaldo has not played since 23 November because of a thigh complaint, but is expected to be fit to face FCK. Gareth Bale has recovered from flu and is available, along with Xabi Alonso, rested on Saturday. Sami Khedira (knee ligaments), Fábio Coentrão (thigh) and Raphaël Varane (knee) are all out and Sergio Ramos is suspended.
• During his first spell as København coach, Solbakken oversaw four games against Spanish opposition. His record against Valencia CF, FC Barcelona and Club Atlético de Madrid reads W0 D2 L2.