Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Wednesday February 11 2009
THE VITAL CITY ZEN and THE HOLY GRAIL: CITY UEFA CUP SPECIAL
Once the important rearranged league clash at Pompey is over this weekend, it's time for the Blue Armada to set sail for Denmark and the re-igniting of City's UEFA Cup campaign...This week's information packed Vital City Zen sets the scene alongside all the usual good stuff...
THE STORY SO FAR
Time to re-familiarise ourselves with our position in Europe. To date, The Blues have played 10 fixtures in this season's UEFA Cup Competition and must play another 8 times if we are to realise the Holy Grail of a Cup Final in Istanbul in May.
We've had plenty of time to reflect upon the first half of the campaign during a January transfer window where we've seen City's squad strengthened considerably and the side battle to stabilise it's Premier League position. A win at Pompey this Saturday would see us head for Denmark in great shape with our top ten status consolidated.
When all is said and done, Mark Hughes did a tremendous job in getting a young, injury stretched and fixture overloaded squad through to the last 32 of the UEFA Cup, at times only having 18 fit senior players to select from, winning the group stage into the bargain.
First qualifying round
17.07.2008 v EB/Streymur (A) 0-2 W
31.07.2008 v EB/Streymur (H) 2-0 W
Second qualifying round
14.08.2008 v Midtjylland (H) 0-1 L
28.08.2008 v Midtjylland (A) 1-0* W
* City won 4-2 on penalties
18.09.2008 v Omonia (A) 2-1 W
02.10.2008 v Omonia (H) 2-1 W
06.11.2008 v Twente (H) 3-2 W
27.11.2008 v Schalke (A) 0-2 W
03.12.2008 v PSG (H) 0-0 D
18.12.2008 v Racing (A) 3-1 L
Group A Final Standings
City P4 W2 D1 L1 GF6 GA5 Pts 7
Twente P4 W2 D0 L2 GF5 GA8 Pts 6
PSG P4 W1 D2 L1 GF7 GA5 Pts 5
Racing P4 W1 D2 L1 GF6 GA5 Pts 5
Schalke P4 W1 D1 L2 GF5 GA6 Pts 4
THE STORY TO COME
Round of 32
19.02.2009 v København (A) 20:05
26.02.2009 v København (H) 19:45
- FC Copenhagen v City is drawn as Match 2 of the Round of 16 Draw. The winners of Match 2 will play the winners of Match 10 which is Aalborg BK of Denmark v RC Deportivo La Coruña of Spain, so if City can get past Copenhagen we could go on to play either our 3rd Danish or 2nd Spanish opponents.
The fact that City are more than capable of beating any of these three sides makes this a very real opportunity for City to reach the quarter finals of the competition. Why can't we go all the way? Place your bets!
Round of 16:
12 March 2009 and 18 - 19 March 2009
- Draw for the Quarter-finals, Semi-finals and Final:
Nyon, 20th March 2009 @ 1300 CET
Quarter-finals: 09 and 16 April 2009
Semi-finals: 30 April and 07 May 2009
Final: Istanbul's Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium on Wednesday 20th May 2009.
**VITAL MC INFO: Click Here for DANISH CITY FAN'S WEB PORTAL LINK Courtesy Lars and The Manchester City Supporters Club, Scandinavian Branch**
TOP TIPS FOR DENMARK BOUND BLUES FROM VITAL MC's MAN IN COPENHAGEN
Hans Christian Clintonsen is our man in Denmark and he has already begun to fire over some information and advice for the travelling Blue Army...
The Exchange Rate:
There are about 8 Danish kroner to the UK pound.
The terminal SAS usually fly into is T2. That's where you can access both the train and the metro. Both the metro and the train take you right into the town centre from the airport T2, the metro is M2 and costs DKK21.50, £2.75ish. It takes 16 mins to get to the town centre, much quicker and cheaper than a cab.
**Crucially, I've still not found a direct transport link to the ground. The metro won't go there for another five years or so, a bit like our own piece of track. The bus is favourite. If I get a number I'll feed it in to Vital MC.**
Refreshment/ Places To Head For:
On the metro there are two options, either Norreport or Kongens Nyrtov. Like Picadilly and Deansgate in relation to Market Street.
Norreport is the top of the main high street and can access Tivoli Square with some good bars, lively, and mainstream. Kongens is at the bottom end of the high street, with the option of going down to the more chilled out part of towm, around Nyhavn - the old docks where the sailors used to drop off. It's now a cross between Canal St and Northern Qtr. Laid back, not a huge space but quite bohemian. So horses for courses.
Tips for Blues Boozing beforehand:
There's a couple of good Irish bars, The Dubliner and the Irish Rover two blocks down the main shopping drag from Tivoli Square. The Dubliner is on the main drag - think Market Street. There is a massive sports bar up around Tivoli, so I hear. I think Nyhavn is a really cool bit of town, definitely for a drink after the game. It's got at least one 24 hour bar. I am avoiding recommending that one, as it looks a proper hole!
Tivoli itself is like a mini Piccadilly Circus with a big screen installed and lots of neon. A smarter area to booze is down from Kongens Nytov metro station around Nyhavn, although this really comes to life in the summer, apparantly. It's definitely a cool city, but bring some cash, a beer is between £5-7 in a pub.
**VITAL MC INFO: Click here for a link to Lars' Pub List!**
In The Parken Stadium:
I understand one end of the ground is still closed for renovation and is not due to open until next season. I don't know the impact on attendance. Most FCK fans I have spoken with are quite ambivalent at the moment. It's their first game back after the winter break. Maybe they will be more fired up on the night. I am certain Schalke's stadium will take some beating and I'm not sure FCK are that geared up for it. I might be wrong, as I could be with some of my findings, but I wanted to share what I knew.
'Tak' or 'Taksi' is Danish for 'Thanks.' 'Hey' for 'Hello.' 'Tak' is a formal thanks for dinner and Lufthavn is the word for airport. I can get around on that as most people speak embarrassingly good English!
Certainly cold and usually a few degrees colder than Manchester!
- Vital MC will bring you more from HCC in Copenhagen as the build up to the big game gathers pace. Respect and many thanks to the coolest Manc in Scandinavia.
LISTEN UP, ROUND UP
Injury News..and The Raging Bulgar, Valeri Bojinov is back in full training and according to our Carrington spies, is charging about like a mad thing. Martin 'Rigsby' Petrov will see his surgeon soon as he continues his rehab in a bid to step up training. Benjani is two weeks away from a return to the squad. Michael Johnson's situation remains shrouded in mystery.
Hierarchical News...and City's reorganised boardroom continues to take shape. Frank Shinawatra is finally up the road and The Blues have offered Brian Marwood, former Gooner turned Head of Nike UK a place at the top table.
Ticket News...and Level 3 of the CoMS will be closed again for the UEFA Cup Round of 32 second leg clash with FC Copenhagen the 26th February. Tickets are £15 in advance for adults and £5 quid in advance for nippers. Credit is due to the club for offering this level of football at that price.
International News...and Elano and Robinho took Italy to the cleaners during this week's showcase London friendly. Both scoring in the 2-0 win. They've certainly set the bar high for the rest of City's international stars this week!
WHAT'S IN A WORD? THIS WEEK'S QUOTES
'Overall I felt we deserved the victory, they made it difficult because they put so many people behind the ball and we had to be patient and try to work some positions.'
- City gaffer Mark Hughes reflects upon City's hard fought victory over Boro that saw the Blues climb up to 9th place in the Premier league table.
'Making my debut felt a bit strange after so long at Newcastle, but I have played in big games before and been around the block a few times so to speak. That would always stand me in good stead so I am pleased that it went so well.'
- New City 'keeper Shay Given underlines his credentials after his brilliant debut in the win over Middlesbrough.
'We admitted at the time that there was a reaction, but there were reasons why Shaun reacted like he did. We hoped that there would have been a little bit of leeway where the decision makers were concerned, but unfortunately I think the FA has to go by the letter of the law. They will support the referee's report, so unfortunately we will miss Shaun for the same length of time that Stoke will be without Rory Delap. That does not seem correct in my view, but that's where we are. Shaun has been really hard done by because of the severity of the punishment.'
- Bluesy registers his displeasure at the habitually pisspoor Football Association's suspension of Shaun 'Loose Cannon' Wright-Phillips.
'Touch wood, without injuries, Shay could go on like Dino Zoff, who was playing when was 42 years old. His mentality is strong and against Middlesbrough, his reactions were fantastic. He made three or four very difficult saves.'
- Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni lavishes praise upon Shay Given. What chance Given can help Richard Dunne persuade Stevie Ireland to rejoin the Eire squad?
'Our Seasoncard holders are the cornerstone of this Club and, since our arriving at the Club, we have listened to their feedback and their concerns on a great range of issues.'
- City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak speaks at the announcement of cuts and freezes for admission prices at Eastlands next season. The Great British Press's hacks have almost totally ignored this positive news.
WE WEREN'T REALLY THERE? THE FINAL SCORE THIS WEEK 10 YEARS AGO
Football League Division One
Dean Court, 13th February 1999
Bournemouth 0 (0) - 0 (0) City
City: Weaver, Crooks, Edghill, Wiekens, Morrison, Horlock, Brown, Pollock, Taylor, Goater (Vaughan,85), Cooke (Dickov,57)
Subs not used: Bishop
Sent off: Pollock 84, Horlock 90
Attendance: 10, 964
Portsmouth - Re-arranged fixture
@ Fratton park
FA Premier League
Saturday 14th February 2009 @ 1500 GMT
The Citizens Last 6 PL games: WDWWLW
Pompey Last 6 PL games: LLDLLL
Internet: www.portsmouth.vitalfootball.co.uk/ www.portsmouthfc.co.uk
**VITAL MC INFO: Click Here for the link to our Magnificent Seven Fan's Q&A Take Two with Vital Portsmouth which took place before the original postponed fixture last month**
Johnny On The Spot?
We go into this postponed fixture in far better, strengthened shape than we would have done had the game taken place on the original date. Whereas City have begun to threaten some mid table stability as the table threatens to open up, Pompey have spiraled into an alarming nosedive that culminated this week in the sacking of Tony Adams.
At the time of going to press, a new manager has yet to be installed at Fratton Park and I am counting on City capitalising on Pompey's unrest, even without SWP and possibly Vincent Kompany who has pulled out of this week's Belgian squad by picking up our first three points on the road since Sunderland, giving us an invaluable boost going into the second half of the European campaign.
Portsmouth 0 City 2
NEXT OPPONENTS BUT ONE:
FC Copenhagen / F.C. København
@ The Parken Stadium, Copenhagen
UEFA Cup Round of 32 First leg
Thursday 19th February 2009 @ 1905 GMT
The Citizens Last 6 UEFA Cup games: WWWWDL
FCK`s Last 6 UEFA Cup games: WDLDDW
Internet: http://fck.dk/english/news / http://www.fckfc.dk/Default.aspx?ID=959
Vital MC will be bringing you our UEFA Magnificent Seven Fan's Q&A with FCK fan's before the big game.
Johnny On The Spot?
FC Copenhagen are nobody's fools and must not be underestimated even though this is their first game back in action post winter break. They are currently second in the Danish SAS Ligaen, two points behind Brondby and six points ahead of fourth placed FC Midtjylland whom City struggled to overcome in the competition's second qualifying round.
FCK only won one of their group stage games, finishing third and City can take great heart from the way Saint Etienne beat them 3-1 on Danish soil in the group opener. Much as City have not travelled well in the Premier League, the debacle at Racing Santander aside, we have applied ourselves well on the road in Europe and I am banking on the Blues coming away with a narrow win to take into the second leg at Eastlands on 26th February.
Copenhagen 0 City 1
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Date:Wednesday February 11 2009
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