DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Midweek Danish action sees Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland with a last shot to push back into the title race and Conor O'Brien looking to help SønderjyskE towards Europa League qualification.
FC Nordsjaelland - FC Copenhagen
With Champions League qualification looking more and more a certainty, Michael Parkhurst and the Wild Tigers can put heavy pressure on current league leaders Copenhagen should they surge to victory on Wednesday.
A win would cut Copenhagen's six-point gap in the title race to a mere three, and with the reigning champions having looked surprisingly mortal this season, could shift the balance for an unprecedented run at first place.
Each of the two teams are on fairly hot runs at the moment, with the Wild Tigers having won their last three and Copenhagen undefeated in league play since the turn of the new year.
In the two previous meetings of the neighboring rivals, both taking place at FC Copenhagen's home, each team has won once by a two-goal margin. The Wild Tigers won the last game by a 3-1 score in late-October, possibly giving a slight mental edge to Nordsjaelland head coach Kasper Hjulmand and his squad.
The hosts have no key players missing for the game, with backups Ivan Runje, Joe Sise and David Jensen all unavailable due to injury.
Copenhagen have more serious injury concerns, with defenders Peter Larsson and Sölvi Ottesen out with respective hip and back injuries, and midfielder Thomas Delaney recovering from knee surgery.
AC Horsens - SønderjyskE
With their league unbeaten run now standing at seven games, Conor O'Brien and SønderjyskE can push into the Europa League qualifying spots should they manage a win over AC Horsens on Thursday.
With both Danish Cup finalists likely to qualify for European placement based on league position, SønderjyskE could qualify for Europe should they find a way to rise to fifth place in the league.
As matters stand, they are in seventh, although just a single point and inferior goal differential keep them from fifth-place Silkeborg.
While momentum is on their side heading into Thursday's showdown, Horsens have had all the luck in the two previous games, with a 7-2 combined score in two heavy-handed victories.
Fortunately for O'Brien and his teammates, Horsens are coming off of two defeats, the most recent being an unexpected 2-1 loss to bottom-team Køge, and could easily fall prey to their visitors.
SønderjyskE appear to have a full squad for the game, while Horsens are without suspended duo Anders Nørh and Martin Spelmann, along with injured players Kenan Hajdarevic and Henrik Toft.
FC Midtjylland - HB Køge
Brad Rusin and Køge will try to stave off relegation for another week when they visit third-place Midtjylland.
A solid win over the weekend against visiting Horsens left Køge hanging by the balance, with a ten-point gap below the surface being practically - although not mathematically - impossible to overcome.
Thursday's matchup at the Wolves will be a tough one, as they are facing off against a team that has gone six straight without a loss - winning their last three - and is still harboring thin hopes at reaching Champions League qualification.
The two teams have squared off twice so far this season, both times at Køge's home, and have resulted in fairly close games both times, although a total point haul of just one point for Rusin and his teammates.
Køge will be without suspended midfielder Marcel Rømer, along with injured trio Thomas G. Christensen, Nicolaj Madsen and Bo Storm.
Midtjylland are not reporting any injuries or suspensions.
Brøndby IF - Silkeborg IF
Clarence Goodson and Brøndby will look to snap their five-game winless run on Thursday when they welcome Europa-hunting Silkeborg.
Brøndby looked to have secured a win over the weekend when they took a lightening-quick two-goal lead over SønderjyskE, but they were forced to settle for a point after one of the league's more remarkable games of the season ended in a 3-3 draw.
Such defensive lapses could prove fatal against Silkeborg, who are the division's second-best scoring team with 44 goals to their name through 28 games.
Furthermore, Silkeborg are currently holding onto the league's final Europa League qualification spot by the skin of their teeth, leading Aarhus by the narrowest of goal differentials, and red-hot SønderjyskE by one point.
The teams have split the first two games, both in Silkeborg, with each winning by a narrow one-goal margin.
The only player reported out for either team is Silkeborg midfielder Dennis Flinta, who is still recovering from a foot injury.