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City look to avoid slip-up

Steve Wilson | 13:21 UK time, Thursday, 19 February 2009

It's snowing hard in Denmark's capital, the pavements are treacherous and the fountains frozen.

But surely Manchester City will not fall on their backsides here against FC Copenhagen in Thursday night's Uefa Cup match as easily as an unwieldy Englishman in unsuitable shoes?

Well, the locals think they might.

The Danish football league has been in hibernation since their winter break began in mid-December, and it will not restart for another fortnight; but these are still heady days for the Danes.

It's been five seasons since any of their sides has progressed beyond Christmas in any European competition.

Now they have two representatives in the last 32 of the Uefa Cup - and one of them has virtually guaranteed a place in the final 16 already.

That's because Aalborg thrashed Deportivo La Coruna 3-0 in the first leg of their tie on Wednesday night, a result that must go down as one of the biggest upsets in this season's competition.

It's also a warning to Manchester City that, whilst this game comes in the Danish league's downtime, Copenhagen cannot be taken lightly.

Man City manager Mark Hughes

To add to the spice, the winners of the Aalborg v Deportivo contest will play either FC Copenhagen or Manchester City in the next round.

FC Copenhagen beat Manchester United and Celtic in their Parken Stadium only two years ago in the Champions League and are not accustomed to home defeats - only one in 11 months.

They are captained by Ulrik Laursen, who played for Celtic in the Uefa Cup final against FC Porto, and possess Cesar Santin, a Brazilian striker with a goalscoring record that commands respect.

Jesper Gronkjaer, the former Chelsea winger, is likely to be a substitute as he continues his comeback from a lengthy injury.

Thankfully for City, Libor Sionko, a dangerous winger who had an impressive Euro 2008 with the Czech Republic and who used to play for Rangers, is ill and will not play.

As for City, well they have been terrible away from home for months in the Premier League.

At Portsmouth last Saturday, the patience of Mark Hughes finally seemed to snap, with the manager as critical of his players as he has ever been.

The Uefa Cup is now their only chance for glory this season - and maybe Hughes' best chance of keeping the club's new owners on his side.

That's no doubt why they have brought all their big guns for this game.

At training on Wednesday night, Robinho was the focus of every camera lens. No surprise there -and City will hope for no surprises later either.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Danish sides definitely deserve more caution that you would initially think. They play a very physical game and have players that are very fit. Celtic found this out against Copenhagen a couple of years ago and Aalborg last year. They have 1 or 2 players that make the team ''tick'' and the rest stick to the gameplan and play the game simple.

    They play a similar game to celtic and rangers, albeit, not quite as good technically but they stick to there jobs and are hard to break down!

    Think we could see an all Danish tie in the next round!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    So you're going to be commentating today? Who's presenting, Jake Humprey?

  • Comment number 3.

    City will get beat tonight and go out over the whole tie.

    No European football next season for all these big stars that are coming in?!

    Oh dear!

  • Comment number 4.

    Midtjylland are far worse than Copenhagen and Midtjylland outplayed us 180 minutes of our cup tie with them. They were unlucky to score only once and then, comically, they scored a last minute own goal in the 2nd leg to take the game to extra time which we didn't deserve and we went on to beat them on penalties. Seeing as Copenhagen are doing better than them....
    I'm worried for tonight.

    On the other hand, with the exception of our final group game in Spain, we've won all of our away games in the Uefa Cup... Our performances against Nicosia and Schalke especially were very good, among the best we've played away this season. I think we can get a draw tonight and if we do, I will be over the moon as I cannot see us winning there and I personally think we lose.

    CTID

  • Comment number 5.

    City wont go out.
    We may struggle at Copenhagen but when they come to COMS we will slaughter them. Simple as.

  • Comment number 6.

    Paul_The_Villian:

    Woah! What have you got against City, mate? What did they do to you? Calm Down!

    Oh and can I have next week's lottery numbers, seeing as you can clearly see into the future...

  • Comment number 7.

    Shame the blog does not mention the utter gubbing they recieved at the hands of Aberdeen last season.

  • Comment number 8.

    To be honest it doesnt take much to work out city will get knocked out by FC Copenhagen!

  • Comment number 9.

    To be honest I do not see that Man City losing to Copenhagen will be a "slip-up."
    It may be annoying for City fans and insular English journo's but not a shock to the rest of Europe.

  • Comment number 10.

    City will loose tonight, of that im sure....but I think they will go through over 2 legs, allthough I hope I am wrong

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Mr Wilson,

    If you analyze this from one point( city's players on sheet) you will think city stand a good chance of knocking the Danes out but if you look at it from the other point-Mark Hughes tactics as well as man management, you will write them off completely.

    No disrespect to Mark Hughes but I must say this aformentioned areas are questionable flaws he needs to deal with. Robinho and Elano played for Brazil against world cup winning team and they were absolutely terrififc scoring a goal each, 3 days latter they went missing against a sruggling pompey side..

    Steve, do you not think that is bizzare? rumors from the millenium stadium is that the players are not happy with his tactics one of which is persisting with Elano to drop deep even though there are two defensive midfielders on the pitch and playing with a 5ft7 lone striker upfront.

    They also reported that he is somehow responsible for the loss of confidence of Jo and Elano.... Jo scored a brilliant goal for Everton on his debut and has proven him self in the Russina league by scoring an average of a goal in every two games, only to come to city and get publicly criticised by his Manager...(What about Berbatov, Bobby Zamora, Emile Heskey. how many goals do they get per match.

    Couple of months back, If I could recall I remeber MH dropping Elano for Vasell-that would not command a starting place in my sunday league and, also playing Micah Richards at left back.

    I recognize that he did a good job while he was at Blackburn but do you think he can attain the height of expectations of the fans , board memebers and most especially the owners or at least show them a glimpse of what he can achieve in 3 years. I wouldnt put my money on city finishing top 10 this season as they have persistently struggled time and time again away from home.

    Lastly do you think Mark Hughes will still be at city come the end of the season and will he get the time he desires to transform the team to the owners expectation? as SAF also said earlier that the hastiness in football nowadays is crazy that we saw a world cup wining manager recently got the sack within 7months .

    Thanks

    Red Devil fan in peace.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm not optimistic about CItys chances either. Plus I don't think it matters what Hughes does this season, he's probably out at the end of the season with a top name coming in.

    I haven't done my winter pun yet, so all I'll say is, ice to see you...

    X-)

  • Comment number 13.

    #8, whys that then ?

  • Comment number 14.

    Surely its the players that are at fault for "going missing at pompey" rather than the manager. These players are a luxury who think they can pick and choose when they play, mostly choosing home games to do that in.
    They seem to be more concerned with how much they are earning than doing a good job for the club that pays them.
    Thats probably City's problem this seasin, get rid of them and put in players that will fight for the cause and they may end up a little higher in the league!

  • Comment number 15.

    Premiership football and european football are completely different, #4 mentioned...apart from the last group game (already gone through) our away form in europe has been quite good.

    I do agree that the squad need to show a bit more fighting spirit but to say they are all a luxury is going a bit too far.

    MH is trying to mould a team together and its going to take longer than a season for that to come to fruition.

    I disagree with the club alledgedly trying to sign all these superstars, we need to walk before we can run but some fans really do need to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and calm down just a little bit.

    Rome wasn't built in a day !

  • Comment number 16.

    City being eliminated by Copenhagen would come as no shock to me. The reason is that Copenhagen have European experience and City don't.

    This shouldn't be under-estimated.

    Of course there are exceptions, but in general it takes time to learn to play in European competitions. Man Utd took years during the 1990s to come to grips with it, Arsenal (with pretty much the invincible squad) lost several away games to teams they shouldn't be losing to. Despite having a weaker team than in those days, Arsenal have learned how to play in Europe and generally qualify from the groups without much fuss.

    Many English teams in the UEFA Cup have been eliminated by teams from smaller countries, teams they would expect to beat. This is about experience for me - or lack of it.

    Teams like Copenhagen, Rosenborg, the Prague teams etc. etc. are a real nuissance to play against because they have this experience from playing in Europe almost every year.

  • Comment number 17.

    A defeat for Man City would be embarassing - Aberdeen absolutely pumped the 4-0 last season and to be honest it could have been about 7.

  • Comment number 18.

    well pretty much everyone on here was wrong last night.

  • Comment number 19.

    We will lose at home I believe.

  • Comment number 20.

    Exhibit A:
    Liverpools '04-'05 season.

    Shocking League season, finished 5th behind Everton and a massive 37 points adrift of winners, Chelsea.

    Still reached Champions League final, and although dead and buried at half time with AC Milan 3-0 up... the rest is history.

    That's what European Experience does for a club, and we just don't have that yet. Last time out, we lost on away goals to a Polish team I can neither spell nor pronounce in the UEFA 2nd round back in 2003... which we only qualified for by being nice.

    This time, we won our group, unlike Villa and Spurs. Portsmouth failed to progress past the group stage and Everton didn't even reach the group stage.

    I'm quite happy so far, and 2 away goals at this stage is probably going to be enough, so long as we can convince 11 players to turn up next week.

  • Comment number 21.

    @ #3 - PaulTheArrogantVillan

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/europe/7884112.stm

    Sit down, shut up.

  • Comment number 22.

    I must apologise to #3 for solely targetting him when accusing others of arrogance. Some of the assertions made on here are unbelievable.
    If City go through, which I personally *think* (but sadly I can't be as certain as some of the above posters, because I don't believe I'm omniscient) we will do, then you'll look like even bigger plonkers than you do anyway for being so assertive.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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