Copenhagen vs Vardar by Sweem
The second leg is of huge importance for both teams, and one single goal is currently separating these two sides. Copenhagen were hearing disappointing boo's from their supporters after only achieving a 0-0 draw at home versus Hobro. The key take away from that match was that Hobro were allowed to create several scoring chances and in an overall even match, a draw was not an incorrect reflection of the game.
Another aspect to note was that Copenhagen did not roatate their squad, and played with similar lineup who played in Skopje. They will now have to prepare once again with their third match in a week, which is a factor to keep in mind.
Copenhagen may be a big respected name in European competition, but they are far from their best. In fact, Zilina played better than Copenhagen and really pressured them to their limits both home and away. The Danish side were saved by a red card in the first leg, or else the Slovakians would have possibly gone through confidentely based on the overall performance.
No Macedonian team has ever managed to reach the group stages in Champions League or even Europa League. Vardar Skopje now have the best chance in the history of the country, to do just that. However, it requires 90 minutes or more of discipline to reach it.
Looking back at the first leg in Skopje, Vardar took the 1-0 lead after an hour of play. Normally that is the breaking point after playing in difficult weather conditions. It will be better weather for football in Denmark, and the Danes must get a better performance together. The Macedonians appeared sharper and more determined when attacking, and 1-0 was in fact too low considering the whole match.
Coach Stale Solbakken is a demanding man with experience, but recent comments by himself regarding the team makes it clear that even him cannot deny the problematic situation.
- "It is obvioulsy not great for us, both individually and as a team we have been weak. We will think about our lineup for the Vardar match and see how we solve that situation" coach Stale Solbakken said about his team situation.
The usual wing defender Peter Ankersen (0/0) is a long term absentee, while replacement Tom Hogli (1/0) is still injured. The third option is to play left back Nicolai Boilesen at right side instead, however he is now injured as well after picking up an injury versus Hobro. This means that Copenhagen does not have any natural wing back to rely on. The last solution is to let Nicolai Thomsen play on right back, even though it is an unusual position for him too (normally a wing midfielder).
- "I have played about 30 minutes as a wing back in my career in some friendly game. However, I will be ready to play if I have to be in that position" Thomsen commented himself.
It is recognizable that Vardar have faced their opponents in the perfect timing. When Malmo faced the Macedonians, they had several fitness issues on key players. FC Copenhagen appear to have even more severe problems, which obviously is increasing Vardar's chances piece by piece. Coach Goce Sedloski has proven that he is knowledgeable about tactics but did admit that they looked too passive in their last away game versus Malmo. Therefore, expect a more offensively balanced team in order to not become too pressured.
Once again, this is really about Copenhagen more than Vardar. The Danish side remains favorites, but only slight. One goal by the Macedonians means that Copenhagen will need 3 goals, and that would be a lot to ask for. That being said, expect Vardar to let Copenhagen control possession and remain disciplined at the back - while aiming for counter attacks with Barseghyan, Blazevski and Balotelli up front who all provides speed.
The visitors will be without Jambul Jighauri (non performer) and Petar Petkovski (non performer). That being said, Vardar are arriving in healthy conditions.
I still believe that Copenhagen will dictate, but Vardar will also have their attempts and chances to score. One goal will probably settle this contest, if Vardar scores. They have weapons to harm Copenhagen who already suffer defensively and it was visible that even domestic teams have surprisingly easy to create chances against Copenhagen, and so did Zilina. I will go with Vardar to qualify, they seem to be riding on a fairytale story with their matches in Europe along with growing confidence.