Juventus will have nothing to fear when facing FC Copenhagen on Tuesday, writes Danish sports journalist and commentator Karsten Krogh.
FC Copenhagen are nowhere near as strong as the team that made it to the last 16 of the Champions League two years ago. They’re currently 10th out of 12 sides in the Danish Superliga. However, they’re probably still favourites for the title as their squad remains the best in Denmark. And they have just signed their old Coach Ståle Solbakken, who led the team to its best season ever 24 months ago. That may be a game changer.
Two years ago FC Copenhagen sported probably the best Danish club outfit of all time. Led by former Chelsea star Jesper Groenkjaer, by a wide margin the best player ever in the Danish League, the team also had a great centre-forward in Dame N’Doye (now Lokomotiv Moscow), international midfielder William Kvist (now Stuttgart) and a rock solid defence – consisting of, among others, current Bologna defender Michael Antonsson. Swedish ‘keeper Johan Wiland is the only one left of that defence.
FCK won the Danish championship with 26 points to spare the season of 2011 – even if they were also playing European football at the same time. When the campaign ended, almost everyone left. Still, most people expected FCK to win the title easily the next season but they failed to do so. Minnows and neighbours FC Nordsjælland beat FCK by two points and drew Juventus, Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. FC Nordsjælland were completely outclassed and basically humiliated, conceding a record 22 goals in the group stage alone.
Last season FCK took their title back, although not in a very convincing fashion, and they ended the term with a string of defeats and draws. The poor results continued at the start of this campaign and the club decided to fire Belgian Coach Ariel Jacobs when they had a chance to sign Staale Solbakken, the man who took FCK to their great Champions League season. Solbakken was part of the FCK exodus two years earlier when Bundesliga club FC Köln came knocking. However, Solbakken was a failure in Germany and his later stint at Championship side Wolves wasn’t a success either.
Now he’s back in FCK and his first two games in charge have brought optimism and four points to the title holders. However important Solbakken may be as a lightning rod and motivator, though, he can’t actually play the games for FCK, and it’s still a fact that FCK don’t have much of a team at the moment.
Their defence has conceded 12 goals in eight matches and have only managed to score 11 goals – with four of those coming against relegation favourites Viborg.
The team is struggling everywhere on the pitch. Brazilian midfielder Claudemir, excellent two seasons ago, is nowhere near the same player he was when playing with Kvist in central midfield. Goalkeeper Wiland, excellent for two seasons, has shown signs of weakness lately, and the strikers, Santin and Vetokele, have never been Champions League standard. FCK have bought two new strikers, German Pourie, from Danish club Silkeborg, and 193cm, 22-year-old Nigerian Adi from Slovakian FK AS Trencin but they really shouldn’t be a problem for the likes of Giorgio Chiellini or Leonardi Bonucci.
Coach Solbakken recently stated that the Champions League could turn out to be a somewhat nasty experience for the troubled outfit and that seems to be an understatement. The truth is that this FCK is nowhere as strong as in the recent past and are probably expected to fetch maybe one point in their six games – their home game against Galatasaray. Anything more than that would be a big surprise.
Last season Juventus sensationally drew 1-1 against FC Nordsjælland at Parken in Copenhagen, the same pitch where they’ll be playing FCK on Tuesday. It would be a huge, huge upset if they do anything of that sort again. The likes of Juventus and Real Madrid really shouldn’t have any problems picking up six points against the current FCK.