Manchester City’s 3-2 victory over Chelsea in Sunday’s thrilling Charity Shield did not only live up to the hype of an intriguing match-up, but it also heralded the beginning of football seasons throughout Europe.
The Premier League kicks off this weekend with two fixtures that neutrals will find particularly interesting. Newcastle take on Tottenham on Saturday that will see a match-up of last season’s 4th and 5th-placed finishers, while Danish fans will be hoping that Anders Lindegaard gets the nod between the posts when Everton host Manchester United on Monday night.
And the other major leagues are chomping at the bit to get going as well. Bayern Munich beat league winners Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in an action-packed German Super Cup, their version of the Charity Shield, and fans can look forward to Dortmund taking on rivals Werder Bremen in the opener on August 24.
Spanish champs Real Madrid open their defence on August 18 against Valencia, but even more tantalising is the Spanish Super Cup – yes, their version of the CS – in which champions Real Madrid take on arch nemesis Barcelona over two legs.
Other noteworthy leagues have already begun, such as Ligue 1 in France and the Dutch Eredivisie, while Italy’s Serie A starts on August 25. Throughout Europe, it promises to be a great season.
But for the Danish national team looking to build on their Euro 2012 success in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers that kick off in September, the summer period has opened up a can of worms.
Because not only have two of their stalwarts retired from the national team – keeper Thomas Sørensen and midfielder Christian Poulsen – but at least half a dozen regulars are still in the process of finding new clubs.
Left back Simon Poulsen, striker Nicklas Bendtner, centre backs Simon Kjær and Daniel Agger, and midfielders Michael Krohn-Dehli and Thomas Kahlenberg have been unable to finalise moves to a new club with the European transfer deadline rapidly approaching at the end of August.
It’s certainly not an optimal situation for coach Morten Olsen, who needs to organise a squad quickly before Denmark begins its World Cup qualifying campaign against the Czech Republic on September 8. And it won’t get any easier with Bulgaria and Euro 2012 runners-up Italy following a month later.
One plus for Olsen, however, is that a number of transfers involving Danish players are already in place, with especially the Dutch and Belgian clubs moving early.
Jesper Jørgensen and Jim Larsen have moved to Club Brugge, FC Copenhagen’s Champions League victims, while Mads Junker, Thomas Enevoldsen and Nicklas Pedersen all moved to KV Mechelen.
And the Dutch League continues to be a favourite destination for Danish players: Zanka Jørgensen has moved to PSV Eindhoven, Lasse Schøne to Ajax, Andreas Bjelland to Twente and Søren Rieks to NEC Nijmegen.
Yet, the players mentioned above are fringe players and Olsen must be getting a bit nervous that the transfer statuses of Agger, Bendtner and Kjær remain in the balance approaching the deadline and the qualifiers.