DAVID SMITH - Thursday, March 10, 2011
Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland will try to avoid a second straight blowout when they visit Midtjylland while Clarence Goodson and Brøndby look to improve their place in the standings against SønderjyskE.
FC Midtjylland - FC Nordsjaelland
With the sting of last weekend's four-goal loss to Randers still fresh, Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland will need to be at their top to avoid a second straight embarrassment at Midtjylland on Saturday.
The second half of the season couldn't have started worse for the Wild Tigers, as they were obliterated by Randers thanks to a second-half letdown which saw a trio of goals allowed in a span of 12 minutes.
This put them at the bottom of the pack just above the relegation zone, currently in tenth place, but still just three behind SønderjyskE in sixth. A five-point cushion above the bottom two does give them a bit of breathing room, but with 13 games still to go before the season's end, they will need to stay on their toes to avoid a nervy run-in.
Last week's blowout was not the first time this season they had been at the wrong end of such a lopsided scoreline, with the first such loss coming in late-August on their first visit to Midtjylland.
With the Wolves having already shown their teeth in their first outing of the spring by inflicting the first loss of the season on league-leading Copenhagen, all signs are pointing to a tough afternoon for Morten Wieghorst and his squad.
Nordsjaelland are faced with a trio of injuries. New arrival Jacob Egeris must still wait to make his debut for the team as he is still recovering from a foot injury, while Canadian midfielder Patrice Bernier must also sit with a nagging leg injury.
In addition, forward Mads Thomsen saw his comeback from two years on the sidelines with repeated injury problems cut short last weekend when he was forced out of the game with a thigh problem, which should keep him on the sidelines for another three to four weeks.
Midtjylland should have the same squad available from last week's win, with midfielders Danny Olsen and Adigun Salami still unlikely to be ready to suit up for the encounter.
Brøndby IF - SønderjyskE
Clarence Goodson and Brøndby will hope to avoid the necessity of any last-second drama when they host SønderjyskE on Sunday.
Trailing by a single goal to ten-man Lyngby in Sunday's spring opener, Brøndby were able to rescue a point at the death thanks to a moment of excellence from Daniel Wass.
While they did fall to fourth place thanks to a win by fellow top-four competitors Midtjylland, they still are locked in a fierce battle with the Wolves and third-place Odense for the division of the league's European spots.
As it stands now, Midtjylland occupy the Superligaen's second Champions League place while Odense and Brøndby would fall into the Europa League were the season to end as it stands now, however with a mere point separating the three, it's difficult to really say if any of them really hold the advantage.
Whatever the case, Brøndby likely need the full three points against sixth-place SønderjyskE, as their following game involves a visit to crosstown rivals Copenhagen, where few teams have escaped with even so much as a draw.
They will be lacking defender Max von Schlebrügge, who is expected to be out for two weeks with a hamstring injury picked up in last weekend's game.
SønderjyskE will benefit from the return of forward Mustafa Kusukovic from suspension, but must still make do without injured defender Michael Larsen.
Now fully recovered from a hamstring problem that kept him out for the entire first half of the season, Chris Rolfe will hope to be in Aalborg's squad on Saturday when they face a tough visit from runaway league leaders Copenhagen.