Sports Round-Up: Premier League foe for Danish team in Europe

Elsewhere, the handball ladies steamroll into the World Championship quarters and Denmark loses a revered football icon

Two Danish teams eagerly awaited the UEFA Conference League draw today: FC Midtjylland, after finishing third in their Europa League group, and second-placed Randers – the first time it has made it through a group stage. 

FC Midtjylland drew PAOK Thessaloniki, the Greek side that finished runner-up to FC Copenhagen in the group stage. 

Randers, meanwhile, will have a tougher go of it as they face Kasper Schmeichel and Leicester City. 

The ties will be played over two legs on February 17 and 24. 

As group winners, FC Copenhagen have a bye and will enter the tournament in the draw for the next round, the last 16, which will be held on February 25.

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Chasing 15th 
Brøndby finished last in their Europa League group and are done playing European football this season. 

With three teams remaining in Europe, Denmark has the most teams left out of the countries aiming for the top 15 in the European coefficient ranking.

Currently sitting 15th, Turkey have two teams left, as do Greece (16th) and the Czech Republic (19th), while Croatia (17th) only have one team. Denmark is 18th.

The points separating the five countries are minimal and FCM knocking out PAOK could prove critical for Denmark getting past Greece.

Handball ladies power through
The Danish handball women look among the favourites to win the 2021 World Handball Championship following dominant performances in the group stages. Denmark have won all of their six games so far – the latest a 32-16 dismantling of Germany in the final match of the second group stage. Aside from the Germans, South Korea, Czech Republic, Hungary, Congo and Tunisia have all lost by double digits to the Danes. Up next is Brazil in the quarter-finals tomorrow at 17:30. The last time the Danish women won the World Championship was back in 1997.

Wolves lead at winter break
FC Midtjylland cling on to a slender two-point lead over FC Copenhagen in the Superliga going into the winter break. The Wolves sit with 35 points, followed by FCK (33), Brøndby (30), AaB Aalborg (28) and Randers (28). Vejle is dead last on nine points, behind SønderjyskE (10) and FC Nordsjælland (16). Brøndby’s Mikael Uhre leads the goalscoring charts with 11 goals, followed by Louka Prip (AaB), Pep Biel (FCK), Junior Brumado (FCM) and Nicolai Vallys (Silkeborg), who are all on seven strikes.

Keeper legend dead at 62
Danish football is in mourning following Lars Høgh’s death at 62 following a long bout with cancer. Høgh, who won three Danish league titles for OB Odense and played a Superliga-record 817 games for the Funen outfit, had been the national team’s goalkeeping coach until just recently. He was held in high regard by the Danish football community. As a player, Høgh won eight caps for Denmark (including in Denmark’s 2-0 win over West Germany at the 1986 World Cup), but his finest performance probably came in OB’s famous 2-0 win over Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in 1994, helping the Danes to overturn a 2-3 loss at home and bring home the biggest Danish result in international club football history. Check out the highlights in the video at the end of this article. 

Olesen cleared in London
Danish golfer Thorbjørn Olesen has been found not guilty in a London courtroom over charges relating to a flight from Nashville to the English capital in 2019. The 31-year-old was acquitted on all three counts: sexual assault, assault by beating and being intoxicated on an airplane. Olesen claimed that he remembers nothing following takeoff after taking prescription-only sleeping pills purchased from a dubious website by his partner. According to the charges, Olesen kissed and fondled a woman, shoved a cabin member and urinated on another passenger’s seat. 

Danish speed skating history
Viktor Hald Thorup made speed skating history by becoming the first male Dane to win a medal at a World Cup race. Thorup finished second in the men’s mass start at the tournament in Utah and the result means he will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Thorup took part in the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, finishing fifth in the mass start. Stefan Due, who finished tenth at a World Cup race in Calgary over the weekend, has also booked his ticket to Beijing. 

Rune avoids Ozzie Open quals
For the first time in his career, Holger Rune has qualified directly for a Grand Slam without needing to go through qualifiers. The top 100 ranked players in the world all directly qualify, and although the 18-year-old ranks 103rd at the moment, the youngster made the cut due to some players in the top 100 being unable to participate due to injury. Rune began 2021 ranked 473rd, but won 73 out of over 100 matches played, propelling him up the rankings. On the women’s side, Clara Tauson also qualified directly as the 44th best player in the world.

Harder wins FA Cup
Pernille Harder may have missed out on the Ballon D’Or again this year, but she has won a medal as a winner of the English Women’s FA Cup. Harder’s Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-0 in the final with Harder coming on for the final 15 minutes. Another Dane, Simone Boye, was on the losing side in the game, which was played in front of 41,000 fans at Wembley Stadium. 

Ever the Viktor
Viktor Axelsen cemented his position as one of the best badminton players in recent times following his dominant win at the World Tour Finals in Indonesia. The Dane beat Kunlavut Vitidsarn 21-12, 21-8 in the final. Up next is the last tournament of the year, the 2021 BWF World Championships. But whatever the result there, Axelsen has enjoyed one of the best years in Danish badminton history. So far, he has reached the finals of 10 out of 12 individual tournaments, winning seven, losing two close games and being unable to play the final of the European Championships due to corona. 

Final four in the Danish Cup
There are only four teams left in the Danish Cup … and none of them are from Copenhagen. SønderjyskE will take on OB Odense and FC Midtjylland face Vejle in the semi-finals. The fixtures will be played over two legs in April and May, with the winners playing the eventual final on May 26.

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