DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland will try to avoid a post-cup-winning hangover against Clarence Goodson and Brøndby while Babajide Ogunbiyi and Viborg face perhaps their most important test of the season.
Brøndby IF - FC Nordsjaelland
Having just earned hardware in the Finnish Cup for the second straight season, Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland will hope to ride the wave as they head into Copenhagen for a local derby against Clarence Goodson and Brøndby.
A last-second 3-2 win over Midtjylland in Sunday's Cup final gave Parkhurst and his teammates a reason to celebrate, as they became the first team to defend the crown in more than 20 years, with the added bonus of entry into next season's Europa League.
They will almost certainly be joined in the competition by their Sunday opponents Brøndby, who are guaranteed of at worst a fourth place finish - good enough for European qualification - and would need a nearly miraculous turn of events to pass Odense for the league's second Champions League spot.
Similarly, Nordsjaelland are all but assured of their survival, as a five-point gap to the drop zone with two games left on the schedule and a further three teams between them and the relegation line means that the odds for them to drop into the bottom two would need an expert mathematician to calculate.
Brøndby finally reversed their three-game winless slide with a win over Lyngby late last week, and will hope that the Wild Tigers are still suffering from the aftermath of their Cup celebrations in order to at least keep their edge on fourth-place Midtjylland.
Brøndby have a full squad available as all previously-injured players have returned to training over the weekend.
For Nordsjaelland, midfielder Patrice Bernier along with forwards Mads Thomsen and Emil Lyng are all out injured.
Aalborg BK - SønderjyskE
Chris Rolfe should be in Aalborg's starting lineup on Wednesday evening as they try to assure their place in the top flight for next season with a home win over SønderjyskE.
Aalborg are still not out of danger, as last Friday's loss to Silkeborg left them with just a three-point cushion protecting them from the bottom two.
Due to a far superior goal differential as compared to Lyngby, either a win by Aalborg or a loss by Lyngby would all but mathematically assure their safety, guaranteeing the team will be pushing full steam ahead for the three points against SønderjyskE.
Their opponents did put themselves in prime position for a safe return to the Superligaen next season with a 2-1 home win over last-place Esbjerg on Thursday, and will come into the game knowing that even a draw will likely be enough to complete the mission.
Morten Duncan Rasmussen could be out for Aalborg as he was forced from training on Monday with a hamstring injury.
Aalborg are also missing a number of other players, with forwards forwards Henrik Dalsgaard and Marcus Tracy, midfielder Louay Chanko and defender Jakob Ahlmann to miss the rest of the season with injuries. In addition, Rasmus Würtz is suspended, while midfielder Patrick Kristensen and forward Ronnie Schwartz are also sidelined.
SønderjyskE are reporting no absences from their squad.
Viborg FF - Kolding FC
Babajide Ogunbiyi and Viborg have seen their season come down to the wire, with Tuesday's home matchup against Kolding a must-win situation for both teams as they try to keep their place in the First Division for next season.
Viborg hold a slight advantage in the First Division standings heading into the game, with their 29 points having them hovering barely above the relegation line with just one point to spare.
Directly below them lie their Tuesday-night guests Kolding, who know that a loss will send them one step closer to the Second Division, a far cry from some of their recent seasons which have seen them flirt with promotion to the top flight.
Both teams managed to earn a single point in late-week action last week, albeit in vastly different fashion; Viborg battled to a scoreless draw at home against Hobro, while Kolding remarkably came back from two goals down to eventually pull even with Vestsjaelland in an exciting 3-3 draw.
The lack of goals in Viborg's game could be seen as par for the course, as they are the worst offensive team in the division, a malady which is highlighted by the fact that Ogunbiyi is the team's second-leading scorer from his central defensive role with five goals.
Neither team is reporting any absences for the game.
Euan Holden and Hjørring will hope to distance themselves from the relegation zone on Tuesday evening when they face off against Naestved BK for their final home game of the season.