Chelsea have been given little time to recover from their FA Cup elimination before taking on FC Copenhagen in the first leg of the Champions League's last 16, but coach Carlo Ancelotti is confident of victory.
Carlo Ancelotti fancies Chelsea's chances against Copenhagen
COPENHAGEN // Chelsea have been given little time to recover from their FA Cup elimination before taking on FC Copenhagen tonight in the first leg of the Champions League's last 16.
The English champions, who lost to Everton on penalties on Saturday, have been struggling in recent weeks and have dropped to fifth place in the Premier League.
Carlo Ancelotti, their under-pressure coach, has not yet revealed whether he will start the game with Fernando Torres, the £50 million (Dh295m) striker who has failed to score in his first two games since moving from Liverpool.
But whatever team Ancelotti picks, the Italian believes his club are strong enough to advance to the quarter-finals.
"Chelsea won't go out against Copenhagen," Ancelotti said.
"We have to have the right pressure because we have 180 minutes to win against them.
"We need to maintain a good shape, stay together and work hard together and not individually."
Chelsea have reached the semi-finals five times in the past seven years but have never won Europe's premier trophy. "The Champions League is not easy but it brings a lot of motivation," Ancelotti said.
Copenhagen, by contrast, have never before reached the knockout stages.
However, the team has excelled this season in front of their vocal home fans, beating Rubin Kazan and Panathinaikos and drawing with tournament favourite Barcelona in the group stage.
The runaway Danish league leaders have not played a competitive game since the start of the winter break more than two months ago, meaning Stale Solbakken's team will have fresh legs but may lack cohesion.
Jesper Gronkjaer, the Copenhagen midfielder, was once a crowd favourite at Stamford Bridge but the Dane is unsentimental about playing against his former club.
"When the game starts, the aim is to have FC Copenhagen move ahead [in the tournament]," Gronkjaer said. "To me, it won't be any different from any other game."
* Associated Press
11.45pm, Aljazeera Sport +3
Chelsea comment, s10-11