Norwegian football club Rosenborg (RBK) will be taking a slender 2-1 advantage into the second leg of its Champions League qualifying match against FC København (FCK) in Copenhagen on Wednesday. Fans haven’t been this close to the highest levels of European football for a long time.
RBK, based in Trondheim, beat the Danish champions courtesy of goals from Norwegian legend Steffan Iversen (reacting in PicApp photo at right) and 18-year-old starlet Markus Henriksen. København nonetheless managed to snatch a precious away goal late in their match last week via the head of former Chelsea and Ajax Amsterdam star Jesper Grønkjær, meaning the tie is far from finished.
The Champions League is the top European club football (soccer) tournament. Should RBK overcome FCK, the Trondheim club will join the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United and AC Milan in the tournament. Even if they lose, they will qualify for the Europa League (formerly the UEFA Cup), Europe’s second-tier competition.
Grønkjær’s away goal on RBK’s home turf in Trondheim will give RBK’s Head Coach Nils Arne Eggen a headache coming into the vital second leg. Under Champions League rules, if a fixture is tied over two legs, the team that has scored the most away goals will progress to the next round, meaning that København can defeat RBK 1-0 and still go through.
Nevertheless, Eggen has angrily dismissed any worries about København’s late away goal. “We have not lost World War Three, or World War Two for that matter,” he told newspaper Dagbladet. FCK’s Norwegian manager Ståle Solbakken, whose heart famously stopped beating during a training session while he was a professional footballer, was far more confident about the away goal, commenting that “it gives us an opportunity to fight for the win.”
Both Rosenborg and their opponents are flying high in their respective domestic leagues. In Norway’s Tippeligaen (Premier Division), RBK looks set to retain their title. København, meanwhile, has enjoyed an unbeaten start to the Danish Superliga season.
With their team within touching distance of Champions League soccer for the first time in three years, RBK fans anxiously await Wednesday’s crucial fixture.