Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Denmark: European hopefuls gain confidence with domestic wins

Posted in European Football by peterbein on August 20, 2011
Cesar Santin

César Santin scored FC København's winning goal against AC Horsens on Saturday

Denmark’s two representatives in the UEFA Champions League, FK København and Odense Boldklub, have warmed up for their respective second leg ties against Viktoria Plzeň and Villarreal CF with crucial wins in their domestic Superliga championship.

Defending champions FK København (6 games, 16 points) had a tough tie away at AC Horsens who were unbeaten prior to kicking off today’s match. However a penalty on the stroke of half-time from César Santin gave the capital side a narrow 1-0 win and the three points which maintains FCK’s unbeaten start to the new season. The win was crucial in order to give the team a much needed confidence boost ahead of their trip to the Czech Republic on Wednesday especially with Viktoria Plzeň also winning today in a 4-2 away win at Dukla Prague in the Czech Gambrinus Liga. FK København lost their Champions League play-off first leg at home to the Czechs 3-1 and have a mountain to climb in order to qualify for the group stages.

Odense Boldklub had a slightly easier affair at home to Lyngby Boldklub with the hosts emerging victorious 3-1 and the game as good as over at half-time. Chris Sørensen, Kalilou Traoré and Bernard Mendy scored Odense’s three goals by half-time with Lyngby’s Macedonian forward Bajram Fetai scoring his team’s consolation goal from the penalty spot in the 78th minute. The win for Odense means that they lie second in the table and five points behind the league leaders but they could be displaced if Aalborg BK win their Monday night game away at fifth place SønderjyskE. Odense’s Champions League play-off opponents Villarreal CF, who lost their opening leg last week in Denmark 1-0, were scheduled to begin their La Liga campaign this weekend at home to Sporting Gijon but all of the opening games in Spain were postponed due to the ongoing players’ strike over unpaid wages.

Europe: Derby Days Preview

Posted in European Football by peterbein on September 18, 2010
Stadion De Kuip

Feyenoord's De Kuip Stadion plays host to Sunday's Klassieker

The word “Superclásico” has come into footballing lexicon in recent years as a way of describing those games which are amongst the biggest and most widely anticipated in world football. Sunday sees five such encounters taking place all over Europe and Stoppage Time – International Football Blog previews them all here (all times given are local):

FEYENOORD ROTTERDAM v AJAX AMSTERDAM (12:30)

A repeat of last season’s KNVB Beker (Dutch Cup) final, these two oldest and bitterest of enemies meet again in the first Klassieker of the new season. Home team Feyenoord last won this fixture in the 2005-06 season and their success starved supporters will feel that a victory over Ajax is long overdue. They start the game in eighth place, six points behind Martin Jol’s Ajax who, in turn, lie in joint second place with PSV Eindhoven and have the chance to go top of the table this weekend. Ajax have won five out of the last eight matches between the two sides in the Eredivisie and are favourites to win again on Sunday.

MANCHESTER UNITED v LIVERPOOL (13:30)

The most decorated fixture in English football takes place at Old Trafford with both clubs experiencing different fortunes. Manchester United are in third place and unbeaten in the 2010-11 season so far going into this game whilst Liverpool, under new coach Roy Hodgson, have had some teething problems and have only won one of their four matches and lie in 16th place before kick-off. Manchester United still has the whip hand in this fixture having won 59 games to 52 with 43 draws (league game stats only) but Liverpool’s recent record against United is pretty good having won three of the last four matches. The odds, though, are certainly more favourable towards the Red Devils with United expected to gain all three points.

SCHALKE 04 v BORUSSIA DORTMUND (17:30)

Die Königsblauen (Royal Blues) of Schalke 04 have caused controversy ahead of this game by significantly raising prices for visiting Borussia Dortmund fans who, in turn, have threatened to boycott the game in large numbers in protest. On the pitch Dortmund are in good form and have won two of their three Bundesliga matches so far in stark contrast to Schalke 04 who have lost all three of their matches and lie rooted to the bottom of the table. The head-to-head record between these two arch-rivals is close with just one Schalke win (27 wins) separating them from Dortmund (26) and it’s the Gelsenkirchen club who have had the better of it in recent times with six wins in the most recent ten league matches, die Schwarzgelben (Yellow and Blacks) from Dortmund last winning in 2007.

S04 - BVB
Schalke 04 v Borussia Dortmund is Germany’s biggest derby

FENERBAHÇE v BEŞIKTAŞ (19:00)

OK, so many people would argue that the true Superclásico of Turkish football is the game between Fener and Galatasaray but the statistics show that games involving Beşiktaş are every bit as important as those involving the original Big Two. Beşiktaş go into Sunday’s game three points better off having won three and lost one of their four games thus far in the Süper Lig whilst Fenerbahçe have won two and lost two. In recent years honours have been even in these games with each team winning one each in the last two seasons but the picture overall favours Fener who have won 122 of the 326 matches between them (all competitions) with Beşiktaş just three wins behind.

SPORTING v SL BENFICA (21:15)

Champions Benfica have struggled domestically this season with just one win and three defeats in their first four matches of the new campaign whilst local rivals Sporting lie in sixth place with seven points. The head-to-head record between these arch local rivals – despite FC Porto’s recent dominance this is still regarded as the biggest derby fixture in Portugal – goes in Benfica’s favour with 168 wins in 401 official matches (all competitions) compared to 153 for Sporting. Last season Benfica got four points from the two league derbies whilst Sporting last had the better of this fixture in 2005-06 when they did the ‘double’ over the Águias (Eagles).

FCK v Brøndby

FC København play Brøndby IF in the New Firm derby on Sunday

Two more important league derbies which take place on Sunday but are not quite of Superclásico status involve the derby of Hamburg between newly-promoted St Pauli and the traditional giants of the city Hamburger SV (kick-off 15:30) whilst across the border in Denmark an important derby in the capital city of Copenhagen sees the defending SAS Superliga champions FC København take on arguably the country’s most famous club Brøndby IF (kick-off 18:00). St Pauli won their opening match of the new Bundesliga campaign away in Freiburg but have lost both their subsequent games whilst HSV hope to jump into second place with a win against their local rivals from the local district of the same name. In Denmark the New Firm take centre stage with Brøndby IF needing a win away from home to stay in touch with their neighbours FC København who come back to domestic action following their 1-0 home win over Russian champions Rubin Kazan in the UEFA Champions League.

Denmark: Superliga begins with the usual suspects as favourites

Posted in European Football by peterbein on July 17, 2010
FC København

FC København have made a regular habit of winning titles in the last decade

The new Danish Superliga begins this weekend and many people will be wondering if there is anybody who can stop FC København (FCK) from claiming another championship. The capital club, formed as recently as 1992 due to a merger between traditional clubs KB Copenhagen and B1903, have won the championship eight times in their history but it is in the last decade where they have maintained a stranglehold of domestic dominance winning the title seven times since 2001 including four of the last five championships, only AaB Aalborg  interrupting their run in the 2007-08 season. Can coach Ståle Solbakken keep the title at Parken Stadion or will one of the other teams finally achieve some league glory of their own?

The league programme kicks off on Saturday in Odense where local club OB, runners up for the last two seasons, will meet Esbjerg fB with the home side most people’s tip to be the team that can end FCK dominance. With former Manchester United players Roy Carroll and Eric Djemba-Djemba, last season’s top scorer Peter Utaka and former AC Milan star Thomas Helveg in the team there is plenty of experience for De Stribede who are an ambitious club but have been starved of success in recent years save for a couple of Danish Cup triumphs in 2002 and 2009. However it is a first league title since 1989 that the third-city club are craving whilst their opponents Esbjerg last won the title over thirty years ago and finished a respectable fourth place last season but were a distant eighteen points behind the champions in the process.

Before FCK came along there was only one team in Denmark who were well known outside of their home country and that was Brøndby IF. The club who gave the world such great players as Peter Schmeichel, Kim Vilfort and the Laudrup brothers have been, by their own high standards, unsuccessful since they achieved the Danish league and cup double in the 2004-05 season. With only the Danish Cup of 2007-08 to show for their efforts since many feel it’s about time that Brøndby IF supplied a major title challenge again and having finished in third place last season they will hope to start this time around with a good win over Randers FC, a small club from northern Jutland who survived in the Superliga by the skin of their teeth having finished just a mere two points ahead of relegated Aarhus GF.

As for the champions they begin their title defence with an away game at SønderjyskE, a team who have just about survived in the top flight since their promotion from Denmark’s 1st Division in 2007-08. The last two seasons have seen the team from southern Jutland (hence the name) finish in tenth and ninth places and their target for this season will be something along the lines of mid-table security. In Zealand, the island on which the capital Copenhagen is located, FC Nordsjælland will face off against Silkeborg IF with both teams fully aware that there was very little other than goal difference separating the two teams last season although in their head-to-head meetings in the 2009-10 season FCN won two of the three games so will have that little advantage going into today’s game in the city of Farum.

The remaining two games in Matchday 1 involve last season’s promoted teams AC Horsens and Lyngby BK. The former went up as last season’s 1st Division champions having pipped the latter to the title by four points. Both teams, who have replaced Aarhus GF and HB Køge in the Superliga, will play against FC Midtjylland and AaB Aalborg respectively upon their return to the top flight. AC Horsens, back in the Superliga after just one season away, will play their first game at home on Sunday whilst Lyngby BK will complete the round of games upon facing the 2007-08 champions from Aalborg on Monday night.

SUPERLIGA FIXTURES – MATCHDAY 1

17/07/2010 Odense Boldklub v Esbjerg fB

18/07/2010 AC Horsens v FC Midtjylland

18/07/2010 Randers FC v Brøndby IF

18/07/2010 FC Nordsjælland v Silkeborg IF

18/07/2010 SønderjyskE v FC København

19/07/2010 Lyngby BK v AaB Aalborg

WATCH VIDEO OF FC KØBENHAVN’S 2009-10 FINAL DAY TITLE TRIUMPH HERE:

UEFA Europa League Groups Round-Up: Part One

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 17, 2009
Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar Donetsk hope to be in Hamburg to defend the trophy they won in May

The final matches of the group stage have been taking place in the UEFA Europa League, the final of which will be played in Hamburg on May 12th, 2010. Having looked at the Champions League last week, Stoppage Time rounds up the twelve groups in the Europa League, starting with the six groups that concluded on Wednesday, December 16th:

GROUP D (SPORTING LISBON, HERTHA BERLIN, HEERENVEEN, FK VENTSPILS)

This was an easy group for Sporting having qualified by Matchday 5 for the Round of 32. Second spot was up for grabs on Matchday 6 and despite Heerenveen’s best efforts at home to Ventspils (winning 5-0) they were ousted by German side Hertha Berlin whose European form was in stark contrast to their dreadful domestic form. Hertha’s 1-0 win over Sporting on the last day meant that they finished on ten points in second place (one point behind Sporting) whilst Heerenveen settled for third and Latvian champions FK Ventspils were unlucky not to gain more points in the tournament and finished bottom of the group.

GROUP E (AS ROMA, FULHAM FC, FC BASLE, CSKA SOFIA)

Fulham were made to work for their place in the last 32 but Roy Hodgson’s men secured qualification in the best way possible beating nearest challengers FC Basle 3-2 away to clinch the second spot behind Roma who led the group on 13 points, two ahead of Fulham who, in turn, finished two ahead of Basle. CSKA Sofia proved to be the whipping boys of the group after they finished the campaign with one point gained on Matchday 1 in a home draw against Fulham.

GROUP F (GALATASARAY, PANATHINAIKOS, DINAMO BUCHAREST, STURM GRAZ)

Galatasaray and Panathinaikos easily qualified for the next stage. Turkish giants “Gala”, UEFA Cup winners in 2000, finished one point clear of their Greek rivals but there was nothing for the Athens based club to fear as they ended the group stage six points in front of Dinamo Bucharest. Dinamo secure third place after they got the better of Austrian side from Graz, the teams finishing on six and four points respectively.

GROUP J (SHAKHTAR DONETSK, CLUB BRUGGE, TOULOUSE, PARTIZAN BELGRADE)

Shakhtar Donetsk, the last ever UEFA Cup winners in 2009, are hoping to defend the trophy under its current guise of the Europa League. The Ukrainians won the group in dominant fashion having qualified by Matchday 4. In the end Club Brugge finished second as they defeated nearest challengers Toulouse 1-0 on Matchday 6 to clinch a spot in the Round of 32. Alas the French side had more than further progress in the competition to mourn as one of their fans, Brice Taton, was tragically killed after being attacked by Partizan supporters in Belgrade ahead of their match on September 17th.

GROUP K (PSV EINDHOVEN, SPARTA PRAGUE, FC COPENHAGEN, CFR CLUJ)

PSV Eindhoven’s European experience was evident in Group K as they topped the table with 14 points. The second place went down to the wire as Sparta Prague played Danish champions FC Copenhagen in a winner takes all encounter on Matchday 6. Two Dame N’Doye goals and a Jesper Gronkjaer penalty secured the Danes a place in the last 32. Sparta finished third on seven points, three points behind FC Copenhagen, whilst CFR Cluj only won once in six games and finished bottom.

GROUP L (WERDER BREMEN, ATHLETIC BILBAO, NACIONAL MADEIRA, AUSTRIA VIENNA)

Last season’s UEFA Cup losing finalists Werder Bremen made easy work of their group only dropping two points out of eighteen (in a 2-2 draw against Austria Vienna on Matchday 3). Athletic Bilbao’s campaign also went well finishing six points behind Werder and five ahead of Portuguese side Nacional. Austria Vienna ended up with the wooden spoon with two points from six games all to show for their efforts.