DAVID SMITH - Friday, May 13, 2011
Clarence Goodson and Brøndby will hope to make a final push towards reaching the Champions League while Euan Holden and Hjørring face a major relegation six-pointer on their trip to Kolding.
Esbjerg fB - Aalborg BK
Chris Rolfe will hope to continue his run in Aalborg's starting lineup on Sunday as they try to continue their push up the Superligaen standings on their trip to sitting-ducks Esjberg.
As recently as one month ago, Aalborg were still sitting in last-place in the Danish top flight, looking down the barrel at a possibly deadly drop to the country's second tier.
Somewhere in these last few weeks, the team managed to find a spark which has not only lifted them almost entirely free of any relegation danger, but has them headed on a trajectory for the upper half of the standings.
Their six-game unbeaten run has them currently in seventh place having a very good chance to move into the top half of the Superligaen with a win on Sunday.
The one downside is that their turnaround unfortunately almost certainly came a few weeks too late to allow the team to push for a place in Europe, as it would take a near miraculous turn of events to see Aalborg make up the ten-point gap separating the team from Europa League-bound Midtjylland and Brøndby.
Barring a return to their earlier futility, a win should be in the cards for Rolfe and his teammates, as they are facing the team currently bringing up the rear of the division.
While Esbjerg did come out winners in their crucial six-pointer against Nordsjaelland last weekend, they still are three points deep in the drop zone, and will need some help if they hope to face another season at Denmark's highest level.
Brazilian forward Kayke Rodrigues could return for Aalborg after missing several games, although his participation is still listed as day-to-day. Forwards Henrik Dalsgaard and Marcus Tracy, midfielder Louay Chanko and defender Jakob Ahlmann are not too far from fitness, but will be held out for the remainder of the season to assure they will be ready to go after the summer.
Esbjerg striker Tim Janssen is questionable after undergoing surgery for a broken nose, however otherwise report a full squad for the game.
FC Nordsjaelland - Silkeborg IF
Michael Parkhurst will be available for Nordsjaelland on Sunday when the team looks to put some distance to the drop zone in their home contest against Silkeborg.
A loss last weekend at Esjberg - their second straight league outing without gaining any points - meant that the Wild Tigers inched ever-closer back to the bottom three.
They still are safe by a one-point margin, but a slip-up could see them passed by both of the teams occupying the bottom spots in the standings below them.
They are barely one week away from their remarkable second straight Danish Cup final, however cannot allow themselves to get distracted as their league status will almost certainly hang in the balance with each of their last four games.
Nordsjaelland central defender Andreas Bjelland will miss the game on yellow card suspension, almost certainly meaning that Parkhurst will be on the field from the start.
Nordsjaelland will also be missing forwards Morten Nordstrand, Emil Lyng, Mads Thomsen and Andreas Granskov along with defender Jacob Egeris all due to injury.
Silkeborg will have a full squad available for the match.
FC Midtjylland - Brøndby IF
Following a luminary performance in the backfield to help the team earn a point against league champions Copenhagen, Clarence Goodson will once again be on the field from the opening whistle on Sunday when Brøndby face off with Midtjylland in a game which could make or break the Champions League hopes for both teams.
The two teams are tied just below the Superligaen's Champions League spots on 44 points each, with Brøndby holding the slightest of edges purely by way of a barely-better goal differential.
Both teams are just four points behind second-place Odense, and each will be hoping that a win will bring them to even closer to a coveted berth in next season's Champions League, which for the first time awaits the second-place team in the Danish top flight.
Brøndby kept their hopes alive with an impressive 1-1 come-from-behind draw in the Copenhagen derby against the already-crowned champs, and will be hoping that the game helped them to sharpen their claws as they come to the home of Midtjylland, 2-1 winners last weekend over relegation-threatened SøndrjyskE.
Only midfielder Jens Stryger Larsen and forward Martin Bernburg continue to be out with injury for Brøndby, while Midtjylland are reporting a full team available for the showdown.
Brønshøj BK - Viborg FF
Babajide Ogunbiyi and Viborg are not out of the woods yet, and will need a good result on their trip to Brønshøj on Saturday if they want to have a guarantee to end the season out of the relegation zone.
The Greens' tight 1-0 win at home over Vejle lifted them from the bottom three, but as they are only a single point out of danger, they cannot sit on their laurels against a Brønshøj team which has exceeded all expectations throughout the First Division season.
The Wasps are just back in the Danish second tier after their promotion from the lower divisions last season, and have held their own with no problems, currently sitting a comfortable fifth in the standings with four games left on the docket.
Viborg will be without defender Timmi Johansen, who is out for the second of his two-game suspension for a red card.
Brønshøj have both defender Peter Ørbæk Larsen and midfielder Stefan Schmidt out on suspension, while defender Rasmus Petersen and midfielder Christian Thorup and unlikely to participate due to injury.
Kolding FC - FC Hjørring
Euan Holden should be available to play on Sunday when Hjørring try to claw their way out of the First Division's relegation zone at the expense of similarly struggling Kolding FC.
While Hjørring can look to their 1-1 draw against Aarhus last weekend as a point which nobody planned would be added to their season's total, the result still saw them drop down into the bottom three, and suddenly facing an uphill climb to retain their status in the First Division.
Sunday's visit to Kolding could very well be a history-defining moment for the team spending their first-ever spell at this level of the Danish soccer pyramid, as their hosts are just a single point ahead in their own race to maintain their league status, putting added pressure on each team as they hit the field.
Neither team has any players suspended or is reporting any injuries.