DAVID SMITH - Thursday, May 26, 2011
The final weekend of Danish action sees a pair of Americans fighting for their survival, with Chris Rolfe and Aalborg clinging to a two-point safety gap and Viborg's Babajide Ogunbiyi needing a win on the road.
FC Copenhagen - Aalborg BK
Chris Rolfe and Aalborg find themselves in a tricky position when they head to Superligaen champions Copenhagen on Sunday in a game which will decide their fate in the division.
Even though Aalborg looked as though they had reversed their fortunes in putting together a seven-game unbeaten streak which took them from the bottom of the league and out of the drop zone, a two-game losing streak to fairly unspectacular opponents has left them sweating their status on the season's last day.
While the team does have a two-point cushion over Randers and is ahead of Lyngby on goal differential in the race to avoid the last available spot for the drop, Randers' home game to cellar team Esbjerg stands a very good chance of netting three points for the Horses. This would leave Lyngby's home game against second-place Odense as the decider, a nervous situation which would have Aalborg sweating even if Odense has been the better team than Lyngby all season.
With this in mind, the only way they can entirely assure another season in the top flight is by scoring a win over Copenhagen - a scenario not entirely out of the picture as the champions did get embarrassed 3-0 by Odense in midweek action.
Aalborg are missing a number of players, with forwards forwards Henrik Dalsgaard and Marcus Tracy, midfielder Louay Chanko and defender Jakob Ahlmann still out with injuries. In addition, In addition, midfielder Patrick Kristensen and forward Ronnie Schwartz are also sidelined.
Copenhagen are reporting no absences to their squad.
SønderjyskE - Brøndby IF
Clarence Goodson will try to help Brøndby to one last win before reporting to international duty for the Gold Cup, as the team visits SønderjyskE on Sunday.
Brøndby will take the field with perhaps the most important and coveted prize possible in the world of soccer up for grabs, as the result could determine how long of a summer vacation they will have.
They are currently in third place, which would place the team in the third round of Europa League qualifying starting in late-July, however should they be passed by Midtjylland - who trail just by goal differential - they could be forced to begin competitive action two weeks earlier in the second round of qualification.
Staring down the barrel of such a life and death situation, the team will surely be fired up to beat a SønderjyskE squad which has built some level of confidence by winning their last three straight games.
Even though individual victories against relegation fodder Lyngby, Esbjerg and Aalborg are hardly anything to brag about, the fact that SønderjyskE has strung all three together to pull themselves entirely free of the threat of dropping a division just after looking dead in the water gives evidence, even if unspectacular, of their overall resiliency.
They will be tested, however, by a Brøndby team which was challenging for Champions League placement up until their midweek draw against Nordsjaelland, and is always one of the more consistently tough teams in Denmark to beat.
SønderjyskE have no injuries to report, nor do Brøndby who have a full squad available as all previously-injured players have returned to training over last weekend.
FC Nordsjaelland - FC Midtjylland
Michael Parkhurst should get the start for Nordsjaelland on Sunday in a game which will likely mean far more for visiting Midtjylland.
While these two teams have never been traditional rivals, two straight wins for Nordsjaelland in the Danish Cup final over Midtjylland has certainly planted at least one-way stream of envy headed from the Wolves to their Copenhagen-area counterparts.
The last meeting between these two teams saw Parkhurst and his compatriots lift the Danish Cup a second straight year thanks to a heartbreaking last-minute goal by Rawez Lawan, and this will certainly have Midtjylland more than fired up when they take the field at Farum Park.
Both teams split the points in their respective midweek games, Nordsjaelland coming back - thanks again to Lawan - to earn a 1-1 draw at Brøndby and Midtjylland eventually overturning a deficit to split the points with Randers.
The Wild Tigers have only pride and final league position to play for, putting more pressure on Midtjylland to earn a result, not only for empty pride but also for how much of their salaries they will be able to spend on summer vacation.
They are still jockeying with Brøndby for third and fourth position in the league, which does affect which qualifying round of the Europa League they would enter, and thusly when they would have to begin pre-season preparations in earnest.
For Nordsjaelland, midfielder Patrice Bernier along with forwards Mads Thomsen and Emil Lyng are all out injured, while Midtjylland have fortune on their side as they have a fully healthy team.
Hvidovre IF - Viborg FF
Babajide Ogunbiyi and Viborg find themselves in a delicate situation heading into their final game, knowing that a road win over last-place Hvidovre is the only way they can assure their safety without question.
The Greens do hold a one-point advantage over Kolding and are trailing Naestved by goal differential in the race to avoid the final relegation spot still up for grabs.
A final home game for Kolding against seventh-place Roskilde as well as a date in the home stadium for Naestved against already-relegated Fyn will put substantial pressure on Ogunbiyi and his compatriots, as a slip-up against Hvidovre could send them tumbling to the third tier.
The team let a win unnecessarily slip out of their grasp on Tuesday night, failing to hold on to a two-goal lead as Kolding stormed back to pull even, and will be regretting their wastefulness at least for the following five days, if not longer.
Ogunbiyi had to sit out of their last game on yellow card suspension and as a result can bear no blame for Tuesday's pitiful adjudication, but will be well-rested and back in their central defense on Sunday for what is likely the most important and pressure-filled game of the season.
Neither team is reporting any absences for the game.
Euan Holden and Hjørring have already secured their First Division status, and will look to end their season on a high note when they visit eighth-place FC Vestsjaelland on Sunday.