København fresh for visit of strengthened City

It would be tough enough for FC København to take on one of the most expensively-assembled teams in football, Manchester City FC, even if the UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie were not their first competitive fixture of 2009.

Jesper Christiansen (left) believes København can find a way past Manchester City
Jesper Christiansen (left) believes København can find a way past Manchester City ©Getty Images

It would be tough enough for FC København to take on one of the most expensively-assembled teams in football, Manchester City FC, even if the UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie were not their first competitive fixture of 2009.

Long break
The Danish winter break runs from December until 1 March, when second-placed København visit leaders Brøndby IF, while Thursday's visitors City have played nine fixtures since the end of the UEFA Cup group stage. However København, along with Aalborg BK, are the first Danish sides to play in Europe in the spring since 2004, and can take heart from how close FC Midtjylland came to beating Fair Play entrants City in the second qualifying round, holding a 1-0 lead until the last minute of the second leg when an own goal and penalty shoot-out took the English side through.

Christiansen belief
København goalkeeper Jesper Christiansen said: "I would absolutely not say that we are favourites, but on the other hand, we are not just playing to have a good game – our objective is to go on in the tournament, and I definitely believe we can win." Jesper Grønkjær is unlikely to play after eight months out with a knee injury and fellow forward César Santin is struggling with groin problems. Coach Ståle Solbakken said: "[Santin] is still ten to 15 per cent short, and it is the last ten per cent that makes him dangerous. If he is not completely fit for Thursday, he will not play."

City signings
As if having the likes of Robinho were not enough, City added experienced goalkeeper Shay Given, left-back Wayne Bridge and striker Craig Bellamy to their squad in January. Midfielder Gelson Fernandes misses out with a slight hamstring injury, but defender Richard Dunne returns after a four-game domestic suspension.

'Good test'
City manager Mark Hughes, whose team's mixed Premier League form continued with a 2-0 loss at Portsmouth FC on Saturday, said: "[København] are a similar team to Midtjylland but higher in the league and going well. Like most Scandinavian teams, they are big guys with a good work ethic who get around the pitch. It's a good test for us. We're looking to get back on track and it's about time we did."

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