Danish quartet focused on Europe

Four Danish teams kick off their UEFA Cup campaigns in the first qualifying round on Thursday ahead of the beginning of the domestic campaign at the weekend.

København coach Ståle Solbakken will be confident his players can overcome Cliftonville
København coach Ståle Solbakken will be confident his players can overcome Cliftonville ©Getty Images

København conundrum
FC København will be the highest-ranked side from last season's Superliga after finishing second and they travel to Northern Ireland for a first-leg test at Cliftonville FC on Thursday. Ståle Solbakken's capital outfit fancy their chances but many doubt their overall potential after losing Danish international defender Michael Gravgaard to FC Nantes Atlantique, midfielder Michael Silberbauer to FC Utrecht and Swedish international Marcus Allbäck to Örgryte IS. Meanwhile Danish international Jesper Grønkjær is missing with a knee injury, while the club's only new signing, Thomas Kristensen from FC Nordsjælland, cannot appear until the new year. Sporting director Carsten V. Jensen is refusing to panic, however. "I definitely think we have done our homework, but signing new players takes more than just a snap of the fingers," he said.

Midtjylland ring changes
For their part, FC Midtjylland will contest the first leg of their tie at Bangor City FC, and it will be a much-changed lineup that travels to face the Welsh club. Former assistant coach Thomas Thomasberg has succeeded Erik Rasmussen in the dugout, and his squad has been boosted by the arrival of American defender Danny Califf from Aalborg BK, while Croatian defenders Filip Marčić and Kristijan Ipša, from HNK Rijeka and FC Energie Cottbus respectively, look to be quality replacements for Simon Kjær and Magnus Troest. Meanwhile, former Odense BK midfielder Jonas Borring will probably take over from FC Groningen-bound Oluwafemi Ajilore. In attack, Kim Christensen has been snapped up from Barnsley FC.

Swedish duo
In spite of having only finished eighth last term, Brøndby IF return to Europe courtesy of the Danish Cup, which they won to earn themselves a tie with B36 Tórshavn of the Faroe Islands. This Thursday's opening leg will be held in Denmark, and although both Martin Retov and Morten Rasmussen have moved on, their departures have been compensated by the acquisition of two Swedes. Midfielder Alexander Farnerud has joined from VfB Stuttgart while defender Jon Jönsson comes on board from Toulouse FC.

Nordsjælland activity
Nordsjælland finished ninth in the Superliga and owe their UEFA Cup qualifying spot to their fair play record. They travel to Estonia to take on FC TVMK Tallinn, galvanised by the arrivals of Swedish central defender Benjamin Kibebe from Aalesunds FK and Canadian midfielder Patrice Bernier from 1. FC Kaiserslautern. Heading out of the club, defender Allan Olesen has left for Vejle BK while midfielders Henrik Bødker and Kenni Olsen have signed for newcomers SonderjyskE and second-tier side Akademisk Boldklub respectively.