Scandinavian Battles Highlight UEFA Cup Second Qualifying Round

uefacup_news.jpgThe UEFA Cup (perhaps soon to be known as the Europa League as we covered a while back) is in some ways more interesting to me as the diversity of nations represented is much higher. If Michel Platini is successful with his reforms, we may see more diversity soon in the Champions League but for now, the UEFA Cup is the place to really learn about the teams in some of Europe’s “smaller” footballing nations like Norway, Denmark, Croatia, Bulgaria, etc.

The draw for the UEFA Cup Second Qualifying Round took place last Friday and it has presented us with a number of all Scandinavian fixtures. One of the highlights will be Djurgarden v Rosenborg. Djurgarden, who are going through a bit of a rebuilding phase after being dominant in the early 2000’s, are led by veteran striker Mattias Jonson (formerly with Brondby and Norwich) who has represented Sweden at two World Cups. Djurgarden are currently sitting 10th in the Allsvenskan (Swedish league) table.

Rosenborg are also rebuilding under new manager Erik Hamrén. The club had been trying to sign Kenny Cooper from MLS team Dallas FC but Cooper will remain with the club for the rest of this season. They have also sold Swedish defender Fredrik Stoor to Fulham of the English Premier League. Another player that might be on the move from the club is midfielder Per Ciljan Skjelbred who has drawn interested from Tottenham, Ajax, Blackburn and Newcastle, but it was West Bromwich Albion that has made the first bid for his services. Rosenborg have turned down that offer but with contract talks with Skjelbred stalemated, Rosenborg may start listening to offers again shortly. Rosenborg are struggling again this season and sit 9th in the Norwegian league table with 10 rounds of games left to play.

It’ll be fascinating to see which of these two strugglers will progress in the tournament and if a win in this competition can boost their sagging domestic form.

2008/09 UEFA Cup second qualifying round draw
First leg: 14 August
Second leg: 28 August

NORTHERN SECTION

Djurgarden (Sweden) v Rosenborg Trondheim (Norway)
Manchester City (England) v Midtjylland (Denmark)
FC Honka (Finland) v Viking Stavanger (Norway)
Queen of the South (Scotland) v Nordsjaelland (Denmark)
Ghent (Belgium) v Kalmar (Sweden)
Aston Villa (England) v FH (Iceland)
Stabaek (Norway) v Stade Rennes (France)
Haka Valkeakoski (Finland) v Brondby (Denmark)
FC Copenhagen (Denmark) v Lillestrom (Norway)
Elfsborg Boras (Sweden) v St. Patrick’s Athletic (Ireland)

SOUTHERN SECTION
Siroki Brijeg (Bosnia) v Besiktas (Turkey)
Braga (Portugal) v Zrinjski (Bosnia)
Lokomotiv Sofia (Bulgaria) v Borac Cacak (Serbia)
Aris Salonika (Greece) v Slaven Belupo Koprivnica (Croatia)
Omonia Nicosia (Cyprus) v AEK Athens (Greece)
Vllaznia Shkoder (Albania) v Napoli (Italy)
APOEL Nicosia (Cyprus) v Red Star Belgrade (Serbia)
Deportivo Coruna (Spain) v Hajduk Split (Croatia)
Litex Lovech (Bulgaria) v Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona (Israel)
Vojvodina Novi Sad (Serbia) v Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)
Maccabi Netanya (Israel) v Cherno More Varna (Bulgaria)

CENTRAL-EAST SECTION
VfB Stuttgart (Germany) v Gyor ETO (Hungary)
FC Zurich (Switzerland) v Sturm Graz (Austria)
Lech Poznan (Poland) v Grasshoppers (Switzerland)
Slovan Liberec (Czech Republic) v Zilina (Slovakia)
Metalurgs Liepaja (Latvia) v Vaslui (Romania)
Young Boys (Switzerland) v Debrecen (Hungary)
WIT Georgia Tbilisi (Georgia) v Austria Vienna (Austria)
Suduva Marijampole (Lithuania) v Salzburg (Austria)
Interblock Ljubljana (Slovenia) v Hertha Berlin (Germany)
Legia Warsaw (Poland) v FC Moscow (Russia)
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine) v AC Bellinzona (Switzerland)

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