DAVID SMITH - Thursday, April 14, 2011
The weekend's Danish action could see a pair of all-Yank encounters across two divisions as Viborg try to escape the basement against visiting Aarhus and Aalborg looking to do the same on their trip to Brøndby.
Brøndby IF - Aalborg BK
With both Americans recently returning from injury lay-offs, Aalborg's Chris Rolfe could very well go toe-to-toe with Brøndby defender Clarence Goodson as the two teams square off on Sunday.
While Rolfe was an unused substitute in Aalborg's scoreless draw with Horsens last weekend, he has had several appearances on the field for AAB since returning from a long-term hamstring injury, and is a likely candidate to get on the field to aid in the attack on Sunday.
The team is still languishing in the league's cellar, now with a four-point gap to safety which guarantees that they will still be in the drop zone no matter what the out come against Brøndby. With just nine games left on the schedule, each game takes on an added importance as they slowly slip ever-closer to the doldrums of the First Division.
While Brøndby was also only able to manage one point in their last outing at Odense and likewise currently needs to close a four-point gap in order to reach their ultimate goal of the season, their mission is of a decidedly less ominous nature as they are currently locked with both Odense and Midtjylland in a battle for the league's second Champions League spot.
Goodson suited up for last weekend's draw and although he sat as an unused substitute, a full 90-minute appearance with the reserves on Monday has shown that he is ready to go the distance, possibly putting him in line for some time on the field on Sunday.
Aalborg will have forward Ronnie Schwartz available once again after he also chipped in during a midweek reserve game with a goal while midfielder Patrick Kristensen could also be back in Kent Nielsen's squad.
They still have several players out; defender Kasper Bøgelund is still not yet ready to take the field, American forward Marcus Tracy is out for the rest of the season while forward Henrik Dalsgaard and defender Jakob Ahlmann need more time before they are ready to go.
Brøndby will be hit with the loss of starting midfielder Michael Krohn-Dehli as he was suspended by the Danish FA for two games for abusive language towards the referee in their last game.
They also have a number of players out with injury, with forward Ousman Jallow and midfielder Jens Stryger Larsen both suffering from groin problems, forward Martin Bernburg still several weeks away from resuming full training and both defender Mikkel Bischoff and midfielder Mathias Larsen also both sidelined.
Viborg FF - AGF Aarhus
Babajide Ogunbiyi and Viborg will look to put a stop to Aarhus' charge through the First Division on Saturday and try to break free from the drop zone when they host Benny Feilhaber and his teammates in Viborg Stadium.
A difficult visit from the First Division's unquestionable top team comes at a difficult time for the Greens, as they are having trouble to maintain any momentum from one game to the next.
They looked to have turned a corner one week ago with their convincing 3-0 win over a quality AB Copenhagen team, however fell back to their old ways several days later in Wednesday's 2-0 loss at Skive.
Even though they held the upper hand during most of the game in terms of possession and creating chances, a lack of finishing along with a pair of devastating defensive breakdowns made sure they remained just on the wrong side of the relegation drop-off.
Their opponents Aarhus are still on a path straight back to the top flight, holding a seven-point lead over second-place Køge and a 12-point safety-net within the top two spots destined for promotion.
They posted a workmanlike 2-0 win in the midweek over Roskilde in a game which saw Feilhaber return to the starting lineup, and will like their chances against a Viborg squad which has had troubles all season long putting the ball into the net.
Aarhus continue to be without defenders Dan Thomassen and Adam Eckersley who both missed the midweek game against Roskilde, while the Greens look to have a fully healthy squad available for the showdown.
Michael Parkhurst is still recovering from an injury and will miss Nordsjaelland's derby matchup against league leaders Copenhagen on Sunday in Farum Park.