Monday, September 29, 2008

Aalborg - Manchester United: historical visit

Aalborg are the first Danish side to enjoy a second bite of the Champions League cherry, having previously made it through to the European top table in 1995/96. It proved to be a baptism of fire, as they lost their first five matches against Dynamo Kiev, Porto and Nantes before earning their first ever CL point with a 2-2 draw against the Portuguese champions. The Danes have had recent European experience, though. They won one only game in last year’s UEFA Cup group stage, but gave Spurs a huge fright at ‘The Lane’ by taking a two-goal advantage before losing 3-2.

Andreas Johansson has the dubious honour of being the last player to be sent off at Highbury… and that was without touching the ball after coming on as a substitute for Wigan! An attacking midfielder, Johansson wasn’t a hit with everyone at the JJB Stadium and scored just four goals in 29 games, but he’s proved a handful for Danish defences since arriving last summer. Most dangerous when given time to create, Johansson is also a handy ball-winner in the centre of the park. He enjoyed his best spell as a player in his native Sweden with Djurgardens, where he won two titles and a Swedish Cup.

A familar face... Bruce Rioch. The former Arsenal and Bolton manager (to name just a couple) took over the reins at AaB in July after Erik Hamren switched Scandinavian allegiances to join Norway’s Rosenborg BK. But what’s Bruce doing in Denmark? Well, it’s not his first stint in the country – he was in charge at Odense for 20 months until his wife’s illness forced him to resign in March 2007. While there he enjoyed a win over Hibernian in the third round of the Intertoto Cup in 2006.

American defender Danny Califf led Aalborg to their first Danish title in nine years. But he subsequently signed for FC Midtjylland, leaving the captain’s armband behind for Thomas Augustinussen. A striker in his formative years, Augustinussen has real aerial presence (he stands 6’ 4” tall) and scored five goals in his 20 games for Denmark’s Under-21 team. He has since dropped back into central.

1 comment:

Starting11 said...

Man. U. playing in Denmark isn't exactly like a trip to Kyiv for a midnight match. Shame on United if it doesn't blow these guys out.