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Friday, 25 November 2011

Scandinavian Spotlight: Final Weekend in Norway, FCK lose Derby and Transfer Talk


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The final round of games in Norway takes place on Sunday with only Europa League places still to be decided. Last weekend's big game between Tromsø and Rosenborg saw Norway's most successful team of the last 20 years slump to a 3-1 defeat. Rosenborg have now conceded nine goals in their last two games and slipped back to fifth place where they are in real danger of not making Europe for the first time in over two decades. Tromsø's win kept them in second spot, two points ahead of both Brann and Odd Grenland, whose wins propelled them above the Trondheim club.

Sunday sees Brann with an early opportunity to avenge their Cup Final defeat in the game of the round when they travel to take on their conquerors Aalesunds, who have already booked a Europa League place thanks to that Cup Final victory.  Revenge would be doubly sweet if Brann can also secure a Euro spot.

Fourth placed Odd Grenland have, on paper, the easier task when they go to bottom of the table Sarpsborg for their final game. The bottom side's stay in the top flight has been brief, as they were only promoted last season, but they'll want to go out fighting while Odd will need a good win to overcome Brann's superior goal difference and get into Europe for the first time since the 2004-05 season when they went out in the first round to Feijenoord on a 5-1 aggregate score.

For their part Rosenborg will be at home on the last day hoping for a slip-up by either Brann or Odd while they take on West Coast rivals Viking Stavanger, who will be glad to put another disappointing season behind them. Viking have only managed to finish 9th and 10th in the last two seasons which isn't seen as good enough for what is one the country's traditionally bigger clubs. A bottom half finish isn't what is desired by a club who only eight years ago put Chelsea out in the first round of the UEFA Cup.

Further South the Danish league is becoming more of a contest as FC Copenhagen's massive early lead is slowly being wound in by the others. The big game last weekend was the Copenhagen derby which saw Brøndby run out deserved 2-1 winners over FCK at their own Brøndby Stadium. A disappointing crowd of less than 11,000 (these games have regularly attracted over 30,000 through the turnstiles) saw the home side cut FCK's lead to four points with goals from a Goodsen header in 17 minutes and Rasmussen in 80. Copenhagen's goal was scored by N'Doye against the run of play in the 40th minute. The home side belied their lowly league position to outplay their guests for most of the match and didn't look like a team flirting with relegation.

Nordsjælland head the chasing pack after their 2-0 home win over SønderjyskE while Aalborg's 3-1 away victory over Midtjylland sees them move up to third, nine points off the leaders. Despite their much needed, and morale boosting, win over their 'New Firm' rivals, Brøndby remain third from bottom but have extended the gap over Lyngby to five.

This week's games see top versus bottom at the Parken Stadion as FCK take on Køge, who have conceded 38 goals so far in their 12 defeats, so top scorers Copenhagen will definitely be looking to return to winning ways. Nordsjælland travel to mid-table Silkeborg while Aalborg entertain Aarhus, who are in fifth and only one point behind in what should be intriguing encounter.

Off the field rumours continue about who will and who won't be moving in January but one deal which has gone ahead is Mikael Lustig's move from Roseborg to Celtic. The 24-year-old Swedish right back - and occasional centre-back - who won the latest of his 23 caps against England recently - has signed a pre-contract deal with the Glasgow club, dashing the hopes of Fulham and Espanyol who were also allegedly chasing his signature.

Dame N'Doye was top goalscorer in Denmark last season (25 in the league) and was reportedly interesting Blackburn in the summer and could well be in demand again if Rovers want to retain their top flight status. Other Scandinavian players will doubtless be mentioned in despatches as the winter transfer window opens up in a few weeks. Brann's midfield dynamo Diego Guastavino may be one player in the spotlight along with Fredrikstad's Costa Rican attacking midfielder Celso Borges, who will be available after the club said they would not stand in his way should he choose to leave. Markus Henriksen (a Norwegian internationalist at the age of 19) is another rumoured to be leaving his homeland.

While Rangers turned down the chance to sign Swedish U21 starlet Joe Sise from Halmstads in Sweden, many more will be talked about so it could be an interesting few weeks ahead to brighten up the long winter nights.

Article by Iain Macfadzean

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You can catch up with all of Iain's past articles on Scandinavian football right here

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