STOCKHOLM - FC Copenhagen have made the
step up from domestic superpower in Denmark to European
aspirants after reaching the Champions League knockout phase for
the first time.
The club, only formed in 1992 after a merger, surprised many
with the quality attacking play which secured second place in
Group D and signalled that the balance of power in Scandinavian
football may be moving from Norway to Denmark.
Stale Solbakken's side held group heavyweights Barcelona at
home while victory at Panathanaikos in Athens went a long way to
helping them qualify for the last 16.
"Given that we were seeded third in Group D, you could
probably expect us to finish in third place. But we came second,
and now we're looking forward to finding out who we get in the
draw," club secretary Charles Maskelyne told Reuters.
Norwegian champions Rosenborg, previously the only
Scandinavian club to progress beyond the group stages in the
competition's current format, have been Champions League
regulars but were knocked out by Copenhagen at the final
While Copenhagen have flourished in the Champions League,
Rosenborg have struggled in this season's Europa League.
Domestically, Copenhagen have been unstoppable and lead the
championship by a massive 19 points after 19 games.
Founded in 1992 when KB and B1903 merged, the side from the
capital have won the title in three of the last four seasons.
Backed by the financial muscle of the Parken Sports and
Entertainment Group, their squad is bristling with Scandinavian
internationals like Jesper Gronkjaer, William Kvist and
goalkeeper Johan Wiland.
Despite their domestic dominance, the club takes a
conservative approach when budgeting.
"We are at the top in terms of budget, and the goal is to be
the best in Scandinavia," Parken Chief Communications Officer
Daniel Rommedahl told Reuters back in August. "But we budget
without including revenue from qualification for the group stage
(of the Champions League), even if our aim is to qualify."
Maskelyne said the club will not rest on their laurels.
"Goals can change during a competition," he told Reuters.
Maskelyne is well aware of the riches on offer for clubs
that are successful in European competition, but said it is not
something that has been discussed yet.
"We haven't spoken about it. There have been a lot of
figures bandied about in the media but I don't know where they
are coming from.
"It all really depends on who we get in the next round,
which will affect ticket prices and the like. Obviously Shakhtar
Donetsk might not be as attractive as Real Madrid or Chelsea."
With a big lead in the Danish league and a financial
windfall from the knockout stages of the Champions League to
come, few would bet against them appearing in Europe's premier
competition again next year.
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