Earlier this week, Brøndby and Esbjerg fans were hotly debating the tough draws their teams were handed for the third playoff round of the Europa League.
Today, they’ll be wondering if they’ll even make it that far.
Both sides lost first leg ties away from home yesterday, with Brøndby at least managing an important away goal in an otherwise uninspiring 1-2 defeat to Polish side Lechia Gdansk. Brøndby were fortunate not to concede more and Simon Hedlund’s goal in the second half could prove to be vital for their bid to face Braga in the third round.
Esbjerg, on the other hand, have nothing to be proud of. The west Jutlanders lost 0-2 in Belarus to Shakhtyor Soligorsk in a game they squandered a number of clear-cut chances. The Danes likely need to avoid conceding at home if they want to have any chance of progressing to meet Torino in the third round.
FC Copenhagen are almost there
FC Copenhagen won’t have many fears reaching the third playoff round of the Champions League following their 2-0 away to over Welsh Champions, The New Saints (TNS), in the first leg.
The Danish side took a 1-0 lead after 18 minutes through the Cypriot, Pieros Sotiriou. Unfortunately, the goal scorer was forced to make way for Viktor Fischer after picking up an injury. Robert Skov made it 2-0 from the spot on 61 minutes. The Copenhageners also lost Rasmus Falk to injury in the first half.
TNS are the only fully professional side in the League of Wales, and with the match being played on an artificial surface, Ståle Solbakken’s side will be pleased to come away with a clean sheet. The second leg takes place on Wednesday night at Telia Parken Stadium and assuming they can finish the job, the Copenhagen side will face HJK Helsinki or Red Star Belgrade in the next round. The Serbs won their first leg at home over the Finns by a scoreline of 2-0.
Anything you can do…
The Welsh champions do have something in common with FC Copenhagen, having also gone through a merger between 2003 and 2006.
Formerly TNS – Total Network Solutions – of Llansantffraid, the club merged with Oswestry Town F.C. situated just over the border in England. Following a drawn-out merger which was complicated by a takeover of the main sponsor, the club had to find a new name, opting to retain TNS as The New Saints.
A painful end for Fuglsang
Jakob Fuglsang’s Tour de France ended at the 16th stage on Tuesday after yet another crash. The unfortunate Dane had already suffered a nasty fall in the very first stage, resulting in stitches to his eyebrow and a painful knee injury. This time it would appear as though a rogue water bottle in the road triggered the crash – beginning with riders just ahead of Fuglsang – in an unavoidable chain reaction. The severity of his injuries means the top rider will take no further part in this year’s TDF. Fuglsang faced the press yesterday, with his left hand heavily bandaged and patches on his elbows and knees – further investigation is required to ascertain if any fractures have been suffered. Depending on the outcome, Fuglsang could face a race against time to be fit for Vuelta a España, which begins in a little over 4 weeks. Søren Kragh Andersen has also been forced to pull out of the race due to injury. On a more positive note, Kasper Asgreen finished the 17th stage in second place. The highest overall ranking Dane is Michael Valgren in 73rd position, with Team Dimension Data. Overall leader is Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe going into the 19th stage.
National side slides down FIFA ranking
The Danish men’s national football team has dropped out of the top ten in the FIFA World Ranking. Published on Thursday, the latest table sees the Danes drop three places to 13th. Despite the drop, Denmark are still the highest ranked of the Scandinavian countries, with Sweden the closest rival in 18th spot. Danish football is in a process of transition following a series of new appointments at the national level – the top job is not due to change hands until July 2020 when Kasper Hjulmand comes in to take the wheel. As such, the drop in the ranking will not be cause for concern. There is also the argument that the ranking should not generally be taken too seriously. The Danes outrank the likes of Italy and Germany, both of whom have won world cups as recent as 2006 and 2014 respectively. On the other hand, top ranked Belgium have never won a World Cup or European championship.
That was a breeze – Dane becomes world champion in sailing
Anne-Marie Rindom took the Laser Radial Women’s World Championship in sailing on Wednesday. The 28-year-old Dane became world champion for the second time, having previously held the title in 2015. The race took place in the waters off Sakaiminato City (Japan) and forms part of the Olympic qualification for Tokyo 2020.
Antonsen painfully close to career highlight
Danish badminton talent Ander Antonsen came tantilisingly close to winning his first Super 1000 title at the Indonesia Open last Sunday after losing a dramatic final to fourth-seed Chou Tien Chen of Taiwan by a score of 18-21, 26-24, 15-21. The 22-year-old Dane was a 13th seed coming into the tournament and is the second Dane in the row to lose the final – Viktor Axelsen lost it in 2018. The only Dane to have won the men’s singles at the Indonesia Open was Jan Ø Jørgensen in 2014.