Copenhagen vs Sheriff Tiraspol, December 7, 18:00GMT/19:00CET – Telia Parken, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Group F in the UEFA Europa League is going down to the wire. First placed Sheriff Tiraspol will travel to Denmark to face third-placed Copenhagen. The first leg between the two sides ended in a 0-0 draw in Moldova, which means that Copenhagen could leapfrog Sheriff with a win on matchday 6.
Furthermore, it is expected that Lokomotiv will take all three points from Zlin and therefore finish with eleven points, which would mean a defeat would see Sheriff drop out of the top two spots. Sheriff have never featured in the spring stage of a European competition, and with just one game to go in the group stage, the Moldovan club could write history becoming the first club from the tiny Eastern European country to reach the knockout stage of the Europa League.
Recently crowned champions in Moldova for the 16th time Sheriff have been on stellar form. Copenhagen in the meantime have struggled this season and find themselves in fifth place in the ALKA Superligaen. Copenhagen head coach Stale Solbakken has revolutionised the game in Denmark, but this season there are signs that the relationship between the club and the Norwegian head coach could come to an end.
Some reports even suggest that Solbakken could be let go should Copenhagen fail to qualify for the next stage of the tournament. Copenhagen suffered a heavy 3-1 defeat to Nordsjaelland on matchday 18 of the Superligaen, and given the club’s recent form it is hard to imagine that the Danish club has what it takes to defeat Sheriff.
Copenhagen vs Sheriff Tiraspol – Player to look out for:
Benjamin Verbič #7 – Copenhagen
The Slovenian is an obvious point of danger for Sheriff due to his goal threat, but his aggression has been known to get the better of him. His aforementioned domestic ban, for example, was given for kicking out at an opponent after the ball had gone. But when he channels his mood in the right way, his pace and technical ability can cause real problems for defenders, so Lokomotiv must shackle him to keep their visitors quiet.
Vitalie Damaşcan #99 – Sheriff Tiraspol
The teenager has taken his country’s domestic league by storm, scoring almost a goal a game following his spring move from Zimbru Chisinau. The 18-year-old was just crowned the league’s top scorer with 13 goals in 17 games and is already widely regarded the brightest talent in Moldovan football. An intelligent forward rather than a commanding presence, Damascan may well be used from the bench if Sheriff need a spark top open up Copenhagen’s defence. While Italian manager Roberto Bordin has tended to opt for an understandably more conservative single striker, Damascan represents a potential ace up his sleeve.
Copenhagen vs Sheriff Tiraspol – Match Stats
- When the teams met for the first time on matchday two, it was the first UEFA men’s senior fixture between Danish and Moldovan clubs. The game in Tiraspol ended goalless.
- Nine matches have been played between Danish and Moldovan sides in other UEFA competitions – youth, women’s and futsal, both club and national – and have produced seven Danish wins, one Moldovan success and a draw.
- Copenhagen have suffered only one defeat in their last 13 European home games (W9 D3). They have not conceded in their last five UEFA group fixtures at Parken.
- Sheriff are undefeated in their seven UEFA Europa League matches this season, conceding just three goals and never more than one in any game.
- Defeated on away goals by Qarabağ in the UEFA Champions League play-offs, Copenhagen have failed to progress in each of their last three UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns.
- Copenhagen did, however, reach the round of 16 in last season’s competition, having crossed over during the winter from the UEFA Champions League.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Copenhagen vs Sheriff Tiraspol – 1-1
Copenhagen vs Sheriff Tiraspol – Possible Lineups
Olsen – Boilesen, Lüftner, Vavro, Ankersen – Kvist, Matić – Verbić, Falk Jensen – Sotiriou, Pavlović
Coach: Stale Solbakken
Juric – Cristiano, Oliveira, Posmac, Susic – Oancea, Guera Djou – de Noojier, Balima – Mugosa, Damascan
Coach: Roberto Bordin
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds 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.