For qualifying to the Champions League group stage on Wednesday night, FC Copenhagen were rewarded with a fantastic group in yesterday evening’s draw in Monaco.
The Danes were pulled out with Premier League champions Leicester City, Portuguese champs Porto and Belgian nemesis Club Brugge to make up Group G.
It’s certainly not the sexiest of groups, but FCK has a decent chance of making it to the knockout stages of the tournament, or at least finish third and get to the Europa League knockout stage.
“From a sporting standpoint, it’s close to being optimal when you take a look at the opponents we could have drawn,” said FCK coach Ståle Solbakken
“They are teams we should at least take points from at home, and then we’ll have to see how the games go away.”
The Danes are hoping for another strong showing at home, where the Telia Parken Stadium has become a fortress in the Champions League.
FCK have lost just one game at home in the Champions League (to Real Madrid). The likes of Barcelona (1-1), Manchester United (1-0), Benfica (0-0), Panathanaikos (3-1) and Celtic (3-1) have all left without a win.
With neither Porto nor Leicester clear favourites to win the group, FCK are as short as 13/2 to top it and only 2/1 to make it through to the knockout phase.
Whatever happens to FCK, the Danish football fans will be forced to follow them in Europe, as no other teams have managed to qualify for the Europa League group stage.
Brøndby drew Panathanaikos at home 1-1 (1-4 on aggregate), FC Midtjylland lost 0-2 away to Osmanlispor (0-3 on aggregate) and SønderjyskE came so close to making it before throwing it all away in the final minutes in Prague.
The Danes looked like surprise qualifiers when they led 2-0 late in the first half against Sparta Prague. Because of the goalless draw in Haderslev last week, the Czechs needed to score three goals without conceding. Unfortunately, that’s just what happened.
A goal just before halftime spurred the Czech champs to life and two second-half goals – the last coming just five minutes from the end – brought the underdog Danes back to earth.