Europa League: introducing FC Copenhagen
Spotlight on the Girondins' next opponents
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - Monday, October 1, 2018 - 15:14
After travelling to face Slavia Prague in their first game of the Europa League 2018/2019 group stages, the Girondins welcome FC Copenhagen to the Matmut ATLANTIQUE this Thursday evening.
To get the low down on the Danes we spoke to Adrien Lebrun, a member of Nordisk Football (@NordiskFootball) and a Superliga specialist.
Girondins.com: "Hello Adrien. First things first, can you give us a quick bit of background on FC Copenhagen (FCK)?"
Adrien Lebrun: "FCK is the biggest club in Scandinavia, created in 1992 from the merger of Copenhagen's two historic clubs. FCK have gone on to win 12 league titles and 8 cup trophies. In financial terms they totally dominate the Danish league, which means they're virtually always in Europe.
A season without Champions League or Europa League football is considered a wasted season for FCK. In the past two seasons they've been knocked out of the Europa League by Ajax (who went on to lose the final to Manchester United) and Atletico Madrid (who went on to win).
Because they're the biggest club in the country, they often attract Danish stars who have struggled abroad and want to come home. The current team includes Viktor Fischer (Ajax), Nicolaj Thomsen (Nantes) and Nicolai Boilesen."
Girondins.com: "Last year was a bit of a disappointment for Copenhagen, what changes have been made this season to make sure they're back challenging for the title?»
Adrien Lebrun: "Last season almost turned into a catastrophe for FCK, the first half of the season was a complete disaster. They owe their turnaround to one man: Viktor Fischer. The former Ajax player joined from Mainz, and racked up 8 goals and 9 assists in 21 appearances.
The big difference this year is that Staale Solbakken didn't necessarily use real wingers last season, so it wasn't unusual to see Rasmus Falk out on the wing, even though he's more of a central midfielder. With those kind of tactics, without wingers pushing forward and creating chances, your goalscoring prospects are always going to be limited.
The squad also had a few players who just weren't good enough, or who couldn't adapt to the coach's style of play (Matic and Pavlovic, for example)."
Girondins.com: "How are they doing this season"
Adrien Lebrun: "Staale Solbakken is a big believer in 4-4-2, with solid, athletic players in the middle. Their attacking tactics depend a lot on the wingers and wing-backs putting in crosses for the strikers.
Just look at the size of their three main strikers (Pieros Sotiriou, Dame N’Doye and Kenan Kodro, all measuring 6'3" or 6'4") and you get a fair idea of the coach's attacking philosophy.
The Norwegian coach is making an effort to be a little more flexible this year, often playing Viktor Fischer as a second striker and using midfielders who are more comfortable on the ball (Rasmus Falk-Zeca). The technical capacities of the Danish star has made all the difference.
So far things are going pretty well in the league. They've picked up 22 points from a possible 33. In terms of tactics, whenever they're away from home or facing a big team they tend to play pretty deep, with a strong defensive line which doesn't let much past."
Girondins.com: "Who are the key players to look out for?"
"Defence: Danis Vavro
In 2017, when Mathias "Zanka" Jørgensen left for England, FCK signed this 21 year old Slovakian centre back. He'd just won the league with MSK Zilina and been voted best young player in the league, catching the eye of Staale Solbakken in an Europa League qualifier.
In his first season he made 44 appearances, stepping up when Johansson got injured.
He got better as the season went on, and featured prominently in the play-offs. Danis Vavro has all the makings of a future defensive general.
Midfield: Robert Skov
Although Zeca is still the captain and main man in central midfield, this talented young Dane has been a revelation so far this season on the right wing.
Robert Skov (22) is perhaps the best Danish signing the club has made in recent years. He's a left footer playing on the right wing, and he's made a big impact since joining from Silkeborg.
He's quick, good on the ball and has great vision. He's also formed a great bond with Viktor Fischer in attack. Skov turned down offers from abroad to join FCK. He's still young, but the potential is clear to see.
Attack: Dame N’Doye
Dame N’Doye is quite simply the top scorer in the club's history. He played for Copenhagen from 2009 to 2012, scoring 82 goals before leaving for Lokomotiv Moscow.
He rejoined the club in July this year, and that total is already up to 91 goals.
Dame N’Doye rejoined Copenhagen at just the right moment, with Pieros Sotiriou and Kenan Kodro, both struggling for goals. He's no spring chicken, but he's still a major threat in the Danish league. He works well with Viktor Fischer, and together they could be a real risk in the Europa League."
Girondins.com would like to thank Adrien for taking the time to speak to us.