Rangers will in the group stage of this year’s Europa League clash with Danish champions and former powerhouse Brøndby I.F. Asbjørn Møller, expert on Danish football and specifically Brøndby I.F. from Brøndby Site VilfortPark.dk guides you through everything you need to know about the yellow-blue army from Denmark.
The Danish champions entered the Champions League qualifiers in the playoff round where they faced off against Austrian champions, RB Salzburg. The Danes were however never really close to qualifying for the Champions League as they lost 4-2 on aggregate. This year’s Europa League marks the first time since 2005 that Brøndby has qualified for a European tournament.
History of Brøndby I.F.
While Brøndby hasn’t experienced many trophies and successes over the past 15 years the history of the club still holds some significant moments for both Danish and international football. The club saw its greatest period of time in the 80s, 90s and early 00s as they won ten Danish Championships between their first in 1985 and 2005. In this period many of the biggest stars in Danish Football were brought up through Brøndby’s academy. Players such as Rangers legend Brian Laudrup experienced his breakthrough at the club following in the shoes of his older brother Michael who also played in Brøndby. Other Danish giants like Peter Schmeichel and later Daniel Agger also represented Brøndby I.F. in the early stages of their careers.
The then Danish powerhouse also managed some huge international results in especially the 80s and 90s. The yellow-blue army were only a few minutes away from the UEFA Cup final in 1991, but a late goal from Rudi Völler ended the dream. Perhaps the biggest single victory in the history of the club came in 1995 where Liverpool was defeated 1-0 at Anfield, a victory which is still often celebrated in Brøndby.
The success of the 80s and 90s was however difficult to duplicate in the 00s and 10s. Brøndby did achieve success under legendary manager Michael Laudrup in the early 00s which culminated with the league championship in 2005. Michael Laudrup however left the club which turned Brøndby I.F. into chaos. Ever changing managers and poor results almost led to the club being relegated in 2013 but Brøndby managed to keep their spot in the Danish Superliga due to a last-minute win in the last game of the season.
It has thus been a long road for Brøndby to become champions of Denmark. German manager Alexander Zorniger almost secured the title in 2018, but it wasn’t until current manager Niels Frederiksen took over that the dreams of the many Brøndby fans were finally brought to life by winning the league in 2020/2021.
Champions of Denmark but Difficulties this Season
While everything seemed to succeed for Brøndby I.F. last season this year has been a completely different story. While last season was started without ambitions of a championship, winning the title has led to an increased demand for results and success among the supporters. Perhaps the most important offensive player from last season, Jesper Lindstrøm is now in Eintracht Frankfurt and while top scorer Mikael Uhre is still in the club, he misses the support of assist-maker Lindstrøm.
The start of this season has however failed to live up to expectations. Five important players (four starters) from the championship team left Brøndby before the start of this season and the replacements have so far failed to live up to their predecessors. Especially the defence was hit by outgoing transfers as two out of three center backs departed Brøndby as well as goalkeeper Marvin Schwäbe. The outgoing players have mostly been replaced by academy players or players without much experience.
The many outgoing transfers and lack of quality replacements has led to a terrible start to the season. Brøndby didn’t win before their seventh game of the season and has so far conceded 11 goals in seven matches while only scoring ten. The defence has been in trouble on multiple occasions and is for sure the Achilles heel of the team. One player who however has continued his play from last season is top scorer Mikael Uhre who besides four goals in the domestic league also managed to score against RB Salzburg in the Champions League playoffs.
Brøndby has had many difficulties so far this season but a couple of late signings towards the end of the transfer period could change that story but Brøndby’s defensive troubles should continue in the Europa League when playing against bigger, stronger, and faster opponents.
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Tactics and Lineup
Current manager Niels Frederiksen has used a 5-3-2 formation with wingbacks in the majority of his time with Brøndby I.F. The biggest issue for Brøndby in this formation is the lack of offensive quality in the wingbacks. Neither Kevin Mensah or Andreas Bruus are good dribblers and rarely win 1-on-1 duels between opposing defenders. Their crosses are also not impressive so even though the formation is built around the wingbacks creating chances they rarely do. The offensive play is instead mostly left to the two strikers, Mikael Uhre and Simon Hedlund. Both strikers are relatively fast. Brøndby centre backs and midfielders are always looking for the deep ball behind opposing defenders for Uhre and Hedlund to run into. The passes however often lack the quality to create big chances.
The most powerful offensive weapon for Brøndby is for sure their counter attacks. The wingbacks are quick to run forward and the speed of Uhre and Hedlund makes Brøndby a dangerous team to play against as they can be extremely efficient on the counter. They prefer to let the opponent have the majority of the possession and patiently wait for an opportunity for a counter attack. Having fast defensive players will be very helpful when playing against Uhre and Hedlund as they are always looking for the deep ball.
The main issue for Brøndby in this season has been their defensive play. As said earlier, neither of the wingbacks have impressed. Their defensive positioning is a major flaw in both Mensah and Bruus’ style of play as they are often out of position. Playing the ball into their area can expose the defensive problems for Brøndby as this leads to the centre backs needing to cover the outside areas. This in turn means the creation of space in front of the goal which opposing strikers can take advantage of.
While leading scorer Mikael Uhre takes most of the headlines the unsung hero of Brøndby I.F. is for sure Croatian defensive midfielder Josip Radosevic. Radosevic plays as the most defensive player on the three man midfield of Brøndby. He is extremely important in the defensive part of the game as he is great in duels and thus stops many attacks. His deep passes are also quite impressive as he often hits his target on long passes both to either a wingback or a striker. Radosevic is along with captain Andreas Maxsø the most important piece of Brøndby’s defence while he can also create chances with his passing.
Expected lineup (5-3-2)
Hermansen, Mensah, Tshiembe, Maxsø, Skipper, Bruus, - Frendrup, Radosevic, Greve, - Uhre, Hedlund
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