Sports News in Brief: New Firm duo in good form ahead of derby

Elsewhere, Blume makes a splash, Alm continues with her orienteering domination and there’s been loads of football transfers

When bitter rivals FC Copenhagen and Brøndby clash in the first New Firm derby of the season on Sunday at the Telia Parken Stadium, there’ll be a lot more than just pride and bragging rights at stake.

Both teams have started brightly this season, sitting one-two in the Superliga table, and the nemeses are desperate to wash away the disappointments of last season with a win in the Copenhagen derby.

Brøndby still have a bitter taste in their collective mouths after throwing away their first championship since 2005 in the final games of the season, while FCK are more than keen to improve their fourth-place finish – their worst since the 99-00 season, where they came eighth.

READ MORE: Skinning the mighty bear: The game that united a nation

Transfers galore
Neither team have rested on their laurels in the off-season. The Lions signed five players over the summer, including Danish international Andreas Bjelland and club legend Dame N’Doye, now 33 after six years away, to bolster a rather limp attack.

Brøndby, meanwhile, must be considered transfer titans of the break, bringing in no less than nine players, not including loan returnees, to bolster their squad. Among the most prominent are Dominik Kaiser and Anthony Jung from RB Leipzig, Josip Radosevic and Ante Erceg from Hajduk Split, Marvin Schwaebe from Hoffenheim, and Nikolai Laursen from PSV.

Brøndby sits top of the Superliga with 10 points from four games, while FCK are a point behind – thanks to a surprise loss at home to Horsens in the first game of the season. Since then, however, the Lions have found their stride, winning the rest of their games with a goal difference of 8-1.

The New Firm on Sunday will kick off at 16:00 at Telia Parken Stadium.

First gold at Euro Olympics
Amalie Dideriksen and Julie Leth secured Denmark’s first gold medal at the inaugural ‘European Olympics’ held in Glasgow and Berlin – an expansion of the quadrennial European Athletics Championships to embrace sports such as cycling, rowing, golf and swimming –  by winning the women’s Madison (cycling). Denmark currently sits 16th in the medal rankings with four, thanks to Casper Von Folsach’s bronze in the men’s omnium, a bronze in the women’s 4x100m freestyle (swimming) and Pernille Blume’s silver in the women’s 50m freestyle. Blume, however, grabbed the headlines today for her performance as one of the favourites in the 100m freestyle semis. Blume powered though the first 50m, taking a commanding lead, before turning above the surface, instead of the faster submersion turn, slowing down, finishing sixth and missing out on the final. A number of experts and coaches have voiced their disapproval of her display.

Alm keeps dominating
The Danish orienteering queen Maja Alm continues to dominate the sport following her fourth consecutive sprint orienteering World Cup triumph. The 30-year-old, who also won a bronze in the relays with Denmark at the championships in Riga, finished first almost 17 seconds ahead of second-placed Tove Alexandersson of Sweden. It’s the first time that a participant has won four World Championships in a row in the orienteering sprints.

Olesen impresses at Firestone
Thanks to a formidable round of 64 in his final round, golfer Thorbjørn Olesen finished third at the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in the US earlier last weekend. Justin Thomas won the event ahead of Kyle Stanley. Aside from vaulting him into the top 40 in the world rankings, Olesen’s sterling play comes at a good time with the Ryder Cup selection just around the corner. In fact, he is currently in fifth place in both the European and World Points standings, with the top four of each qualifying automatically.

Skip to my lou
Danish teen Mathilde Helbo Larsen can call herself a world champion after triumphing at the Rope Skipping World Championships in Shanghai. The 18-year-old also set two Danish records in the ‘World Cup Senior Master Girls’ tournament, during which she needed to compete in three different events: the 30-second speed, the 3-minute speed and the freestyle. Check out a video of her performance below.

Van der Vaart joins Esbjerg
Despite a disappointing tenure with FC Midtjylland, Rafael van der Vaart has decided to make another go of it in Denmark, this time with first division side Esbjerg. The 35-year-old Dutch legend, whose girlfriend Estavana Polman plays handball in the west-coast city, has signed a one-year contract. Van der Vaart has 109 caps for the Netherlands and played for the likes of Ajax, Real Madrid and Tottenham before moving to FCM in 2016.

World Cup star sought by English Championship sides
Danish international Jonas Knudsen is a hot commodity in England following a strong season with his club Ipswich Town in the Championship and an appearance in the 2018 World Cup for Denmark. The left back has reportedly garnered interest from a number of the top Championship clubs, including Stoke City, Middlesbrough and Aston Villa. The 25-year-old has played 127 games for the Tractor Boys since joining in 2015.

Young talent joins Brighton
Young striker Andreas Dreyer has been snapped up by Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion for a fee of about 2 million pounds. Dreyer, who scored 21 goals for Esbjerg last season, will start his career on the south coast in the team’s under-23 squad.

Another Dane to join Celta Vigo?
FC Nordsjælland’s inspirational midfielder Mathias Jensen is reportedly closing in a 50 million kroner move to Celta Vigo in Spain. Jensen, 22, has previously been linked with Ajax. Dane-friendly Celta recently sold Daniel Wass to Valencia and still have Pione Sisto and Andrew Hjulsager on the books – although Hjulsager has been rumoured to leave. Elsewhere, the 17-year-old former AGF talent Anders Fæster has signed a two-year deal with Dutch side Groningen.

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