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FC Nordsjælland handed tough Champions League group
FC Nordsjælland sensationally won the Danish Superliga last season, and last night they were rewarded when they drew Italian champions Juventus, English giants Chelsea and Ukrainian title holders Shakhtar Donetsk in Group E of the Champions League group stage.
FCN may be expected to be the whipping boys of their group, but are nevertheless looking forward to welcoming some of the biggest football teams to Denmark.
“It’s a master-class group with the potential for some fun and exciting games. We will be the underdogs in every game and will remain humble and take on the group as we did the league,” FCN coach Kasper Hjulmand told Sporten.dk.
The draw also sets up the possibility for striker Nicklas Bendtner to make a return to Denmark, as he is rumoured to be on the cusp of signing a deal with Juventus.
But the title of ‘group of death’ surely has to go to group D, which contains the league winners of four European leagues, including English champs Manchester City, Primera Liga top dogs Real Madrid, German league winners Borussia Dortmund and Dutch title holders Ajax Amsterdam.
The Danish fivesome at Ajax, Christian Eriksen, Christian Poulsen, Lasse Schøne, Nicolai Boilersen and Victor Fischer face a daunting task to progress to the knock-out phase.
FC Copenhagen, on the other hand, were reasonably fortunate in their draw for the Europa League group stages, which may help wash away some of the disappointment following their bitter loss to French side Lille in the final Champions League qualification round on Wednesday.
Seeded second, FCK drew German outfit Stuttgart, Romania’s Steaua Bucharest and Norwegian surprise package Molde. It's a genuine opportunity to progress to the knockout stages.
Especially intriguing will be the return of former club captain William Kvist to Parken, the 'home' where it all began for him, where he can look forward to a rousing reception from the FCK fans. Molde also have ties to FCK, as they only just loaned winger Pape Diouf from the Danish runners-up.
FCN and FCK are the only two Danish teams left in European football this season, as FC Midtjylland and AC Horsens crashed out of the Europa League qualifiers yesterday. FCM impressively beat Swiss team Young Boys 2-0 away, but it was not enough to overcome the 0-3 home defeat last week.
Horsens are out too after being soundly spanked 5-0 in Portugal by Sporting Lisbon, following a 1-1 draw in Denmark.