With six games remaining, the Danish Superliga enters its final stretch after an exciting season.
In the wake of a difficult first half of the season, reigning champions FC Copenhagen (FCK) have worked their way to the top of the table and are currently just two points ahead of upstarts FC Nordsjælland (FCN).
With usual title challenger suspects FC Midtjylland and Brøndby both faltering this year, FCN have surprised everyone this season – an impressive feat considering they are the youngest team in the world with an average age of just 22.31.
FCN led the league for almost the entire season, but missed opportunities of late have allowed the Lions to catch up. Meanwhile, Viborg has also exceeded expectations and is third only six points behind the leaders.
Interestingly enough, the title fight has spilled over into the Danmarkspokalen, where FCK and FCN clashed in the semi-finals – first match in Farum on Wednesday and the return match in Parken on 4 May.
Young guns as head coaches
While FCK has a stronger financial position than any opponent in Denmark, there is one thing that unites the two teams fighting for the title. Both clubs are led by newly appointed young coaches.
Jacob Neestrup, 35, took over the FCK team in October and helped turn the club around in a time of crisis – with 11 wins and just one defeat in his first 16 games, Neestrup has got off to a good start.
Meanwhile, Johannes Hoff Thorup took over the reins at FCN in January, but the 34-year-old has managed just three wins in his first nine games.
FCN play at home on the artificial grass in Farum, where they put the opponents under intense pressure with a fast, pass-based game.
It worked fine during the first half of the season, but since the squad sold 18-year-old Norwegian top scorer Andreas Schjelderup to Benfica during the winter break, the squad has struggled to find his replacement.
This is despite Emiliano Marcondes being loaned out from Bournemouth and young striker Wahid Faghir brought in from Stuttgart.
A melting pot of talent
As a club, FCN has been praised for its impressive talent development, not least by players with an African background. Young players join the team early and the best are sold for huge sums to bigger leagues.
Apart from Schjelderup to Benfica, big deals have included Kamaldeen Suleimana to Rennes, Muhammed Kudus to Ajax, Mikkel Damsgaard and Andreas Skov Olsen to Italian clubs and Simon Adingra to Brighton in recent years.
Talent scouts and club managers all over Europe follow FCN’s talent work. Earlier this month, the club’s U17 team beat Chelsea, Juventus, PSG and Ajax on their way to winning the prestigious Ajax Future Cup tournament in the Netherlands.
Currently, defenseman Adama Naghalo and forward Ernest Nuamah are considered the next top prospects ready to make big moves to the major leagues. The pair, together with midfielders Mads Bidstrup and Mohammed Diomande, are decisive for FCN’s title bid.
Meanwhile in Copenhagen, FCK have really turned things around after Neestrup’s arrival.
Despite serious injuries to several key players, the Lions have rocked the Park with an average of 28,000 spectators (a new record if they can keep it up for three more home games) per game. match.
The Ajax-loan winger Mohamed Daramy has been decisive in several games, while the full-back Elias Jelert and the Icelandic midfielder Hakon Haraldsson prove that FCK have become as good as FCN in terms of bringing down talents.
Viktor Kristiansen, who came through the FCK academy, was sold to Leicester City for over DKK 100 million recently, and the team’s U-17 and U-19 squads both won the Danish title last year.
Right now: FCK has a small edge
So who will win come early June when the season ends?
No team in Denmark can flex its financial muscles like FCK, and the club is always considered to be the favorite for the title. But based on recent matches, neither team is in top form.
FCK have several key players on the injury list – captain Carlos Zeka and skilled defenders Nicolai Boilesen and David Khocholava are all out for the season, while expensive Danish striker Andreas Cornelius has returned to his injury-prone ways since being signed during the winter break.
But FCN have not won away from home since October and the team will need to find goals from somewhere to have a chance at their second title.
A potential decision could come on May 8, when the two teams play together in Farum. As it stands, FCK have to be considered favorites due to their experience and Polish keeper Kamil Grabara’s ability to pull off big saves.
But FCK also have two tough matches on the way against their arch nemesis Brøndby.
Although the boys from the western suburbs have been struggling lately, the Copenhagen Derby is always a game that is up for grabs.
In short, it’s anyone’s guess who will lift the title trophy on June 4.
The post Inside Danish Sport: Superliga title race neck-and-neck appeared first on The Copenhagen Post.
Source: The Nordic Page