Copenhagen vs Qarabag – Wednesday 19:45 BT/20:45 CET at Telia Parken – Copenhagen, Denmark.
Qarabag are on the verge of writing history. The Azeri side managed a surprise 1-0 victory over FC Copenhagen last Tuesday, which will mean that the team from the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region are just 90 minutes away from reaching the group stage of the Champions League.
Qarabag would be the first ever club from Azerbaijan to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage. Qarabag would be the first club from the Caucasus region to make it to Europe’s premier football competition. All Qarabag need is a draw. Even a defeat with a one goal difference would be enough as long as Qarabag manage to get on the scoreboard.
Altogether these are good odds for Qarabag. Copenhagen in the meantime are looking at their fifth elimination at the playoff stage. The Danish side has participated on seven occasions at this juncture of the competition and only has advanced twice. At the same time, however, Copenhagen have been in this situation before during this qualification campaign.
Copenhagen was drawn against FK Vardar of FYR Macedonia in the third round of Champions League qualifying and after a 1-0 defeat on the road managed to overturn the result with a 4-1 victory at home. Copenhagen will draw strength from that lead to particular but will have to be warned as Qarabag have improved their play away from home. In the third round of Champions League qualifying, they managed to beat Sheriff Tiraspol 2-1 in Moldova sealing their passage to the playoffs.
Copenhagen vs Qarabag – Players to look out for:
William Kvist #6 – Copenhagen
Captain William Kvist is the backbone of the Danish club. The former Stuttgart and Wigan midfielder is both fighter and a player, who can dictate the tempo for the Danish side. Now aged 32-years Kvist is in the twilight of his career, but with his experience of playing in England and Germany is the extended arm of head coach Stale Solbakken on the field.
Dino Ndlovu #9 – Qarabag
The South African striker Dino Ndlovu was signed by Qarabag last summer from the Cypriot side Anorthosis. The 27-year-old is looking back at a journeyman career that included stints in Israel, South Africa and Cyprus before finally arriving in Azerbaijan. Last season Ndlovu scored ten goals in 23 Premyer Liqasi games for Qarabag and was one of the main reasons for the Azeri club to win the title once again.
Copenhagen vs Qarabag – Match Stats
- This is Qarabağ’s fourth UEFA Champions League campaign; in each of the previous three, they were eliminated in the third qualifying round.
- Qarabag are just 90 minutes away from reaching their first-ever UEFA Champions League group stage.
- In 2016-17, the Azerbaijani team reached the UEFA Europa League group stage – for the third year in a row – after being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League.
- Qarabağ have lost just one of their last eight European home matches (W4 D3), going down 2-1 against ACF Fiorentina on 8 December 2016.
- FCK have won only two of their six UEFA Champions League play-off ties, ousting Rosenborg BK on away goals in 2010-11 and APOEL FC 2-1 on aggregate last season. They have lost to APOEL (2009/10), FC Viktoria Plzeň (2011-12), LOSC Lille (2012-13) and Bayer 04 Leverkusen (2014-15).
Futbolgrad’s Prediction: Copenhagen vs Qarabag 1-1
Copenhagen vs Qarabag – Possible Lineups
Olsen – Bengtsson, Johansson, Lüftner, Ankersen – Kvist, Gregus – Verbic, Kusk – Sotiriou, Santander
Manager: Stale Solbakken
Sehic – Agolli, Guseynov, Rzezniczak, Medvedev – Garayev – Madatov, Michel, Richard, Guerrier – Ndlovu
Manager: Gurban Gurbanov
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.