DAVID SMITH - Saturday, December 3, 2011
The Danish Superligaen prepares to close shop for the winter, with Michael Parkhurst and high-flying Nordsjaelland hosting Midtjylland while Brad Rusin and Clarence Goodson square off at Køge.
FC Nordsjaelland - FC Midtjylland
Michael Parkhurst will be in the Nordsjaelland defense on Sunday when the team tries to end the year on a high note against old foes Midtjylland.
Even with the recent disappointment of being eliminated from contention for a third straight Danish Cup title, the first half of the current season has been a revelation for Nordsjaelland.
Regardless of what may transpire on Sunday, they are guaranteed to finish the calendar year as the league's second-place team, which could feasibly land them a spot in the Champions League qualification round should they keep up the pace through next spring.
Their final hurdle of the year comes against third-place Midtjylland, who would love nothing more than to close the book on 2011 with a win against the team who have twice knocked them out of the cup competition during 2011.
They have also done well enough through the fall to secure third place in the standings at the midway point, and are looking to be amongst the group of teams fighting for the league's coveted European spots in the second half of the season.
The Wild Tigers are missing backup keeper David Jensen to a knee injury and forward Mads Thomsen to a groin problem.
Midtjylland have slightly more serious squad worries. Midfielder Rilwan Olanrewaju Hassan and defender Kristian Bak Nielsen are both out of the starting lineup with yellow card suspensions.
In addition, forward Tim Janssen, keeper Kasper Hansen, defenders Erik Sviatchenko, Christian Sivebæk, Niklas Søgaard and Marc Møller along with midfielders Rasmus Christensen and Kasper Hansen are all out due to various injuries.
HB Køge - Brøndby IF
Clarence Goodson captain Brøndby into their final game of the year on Sunday when they pay a visit to Brad Rusin and area rivals Køge.
The first half of the season has not been kind to either of the two Copenhagen-area teams, although the struggle has perhaps come as somewhat more of a surprise to Brøndby.
After several strong seasons, they lost a number of key players in the transfer window and have struggled just above the relegation spots for nearly the entire fall.
Køge will certainly have expected stiff competition on their return to the top flight, however with just six points through their first 17 games, they will enter the winter break with a huge deficit to make up regardless of what transpires on Sunday.
For Køge, backup keeper Frederik Due is out through the rest of the year with a leg injury, but the team is otherwise free of any absences.
Brøndby are not reporting any injuries or suspensions.
SønderjyskE - Odense BK
Conor O'Brien will hope for substitute minutes on Monday evening when SønderjyskE end the year with a visit from Odense BK.
SønderjyskE have faded through much of the fall after a strong start, however could still end the year on a high note.
They have already secured their spot in next spring's Danish Cup semifinal round, and broke free of their league woes with a strong 3-1 victory over relegation-threatened Lyngby in last week's game.
Odense could represent a good chance to make it three in a row to finish 2011, particularly since their eastern neighbors will undoubtedly be exhausted and disheartened from their Thursday-night home loss to Wisla Krakow in Europa League play, which ended their chances of reaching the competition's knockout round.
Otherwise, they have fallen far short of their usual strong showing in the Superligaen, winning just six times throughout the first 17 games of season, with only a single victory since early-October.
Aside from suspended defender Jarl Andre Storbæk, SønderjyskE have a full squad for the game.
For Odense, forward Rasmus Falk along with midfielders Kalilou Traoré and Christian Sørensen are all out injured.
Chris Rolfe played the full 90 minutes on Saturday as Aalborg were blown out by a 4-2 scoreline on their trip to Silkeborg.