Faltering Chelsea in need of lift in Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN- The one positive from Chelsea's FA Cup defeat by Everton on penalties is that Carlo Ancelotti's faltering side can now focus solely on the trophy that has proved agonisingly elusive in recent years.

Not that FC Copenhagen will be concerned with that when the Danes host the Premier League champions in their atmospheric Parken Stadium on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League, last 16 tie.

While there is a huge difference in experience between the two with Copenhagen in uncharted territory up against a club with five Champions League semi-finals in the last seven years, Chelsea's current malaise suggests Ancelotti's side could be in for a testing night in the Danish capital.

Copenhagen have been thorny opponents for some of Europe's big names in recent years. They were undefeated at home in Group D this season, holding Barcelona to a 1-1 draw, while they also enjoyed a victory over Manchester United a few seasons ago.

With Chelsea's Premier League title hopes all but gone and defeat by Everton ending their dream of a third consecutive FA Cup, Ancelotti is now under pressure to deliver Europe's biggest club prize for the first time.

"We wanted to repeat our FA Cup success," the Italian said after penalty misses by Ashley Cole and Nicolas Anelka cost them dear at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

"It is a very important competition for us, but now we have to move forward and use these days to recover energy and prepare for the next games.

"It is not an easy moment because we have to play very important games but sometimes it is good to play tough games because you are more in focus, so we don't have be afraid to play against Copenhagen, it could be a good motivation."

Copenhagen are coached by enigmatic Norwegian Stale Solbakken, who played in midfield for the club before his career was abruptly ended by a heart attack on the training ground.

Solbakken's heart problems have not had any effect on his competitive nature, however, and he and Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola had to be separated following the final whistle of the group game in Denmark.

Though a quintessentially Danish team with a well-organised defence and a quick, technical passing game, Solbakken's side has a distinctly South American flavour going forward.

The Brazilian pairing of box-to-box midfielder Claudemir and striker Cesar Santin are augmented by Christian Bolanos, a technically gifted Costa Rican midfielder who is adept at getting forward and creating chances.

On the wing, former Chelsea player Jesper Gronkjaer is still capable of causing problems, as he showed against Barcelona.

While Chelsea's season has hit the skids during the English winter, Copenhagen have been on their mid-season break and have not played a competitive fixture since early December.

They have kept sharp by playing in Spain but a battle-hardened Chelsea with a point to prove and 50 million- pound striker Fernando Torres eager to justify his huge fee will be an entirely more taxing challenge.