Awer Mabil’s explosive trickery and Mustafa Amini’s industrious midfield craft are on regular display in the Danish Superliga these days. That’s just two reasons why Caltex Socceroos fans should have both eyes fixed on one of Scandinavia’s top divisions this season.
With the ever-rising Mabil looking to fire FC Midtjylland to title glory, and young fullback Alex Gerbsach joining ranks with Amini to help AGF Aarhus rise up the ladder, the 2019/20 campaign is shaping as one you shouldn’t miss.
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The 2018/19 winners and thirteen-time Danish champions Copenhagen pipped Mabil’s Midtjylland side to the championship last year and will start this season as early favourites to defend their crown.
Managed by former FC Cologne and Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Ståle Solbakken, FCM are aiming to fly the Danish flag in the UEFA Champions League group stage and have a second round qualifying tie later this month.
Last season’s fight for the championship was very much a two-horse race involving FC Copenhagen and Midtjylland, who finished just one point behind the winners before the championship play-off round. Esbjerg finished third, a further 26 points behind.
Although Mabil’s side took out a maiden Danish Cup title, the Wolves could not keep pace with the frontrunners in the playoffs and ended the season 10 points adrift.
Coach Kenneth Andersen’s side will be rallying for another push this time around, and they will likely be joined by Copenhagen’s arch-rivals Brondby, who were beaten in the Danish Cup final by Midtjylland and finished the regular campaign in fourth place.
Meanwhile, Nordsjaelland – one of the competition’s wealthiest competitors – will be aiming to improve on their disappointing sixth-place finish last season. Aalborg and Esbjerg could be outside chances.
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Robert Skov broke the Danish Superliga record for most goals in a single season with his 29 scored for FC Copenhagen last campaign, stunning form which has landed the rangy winger on the radar of many top European clubs.
It was an incredible haul for the speedy 23-year-old, who was rewarded with his first ever international cap for Denmark in June’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Georgia.
Like Skov, the efforts of former Ajax starlet Viktor Fischer was a big factor in Copenhagen’s league success. The 2012 Danish Talent of the Year has firmly recovered his mojo following a mixed stint in the Premier League with Middlesbrough in 2016/17, and will again be one to watch this season.
2018/19 was a season in which Awer Mabil endeared himself to the Australian national team and public, but also announced himself as a genuine star of the Danish Superliga.
The former Adelaide United winger - who signed for the Wolves back in 2015 – has worked hard for a first-team opportunity and his patience paid off in the form of six goals, 10 assists and a key role in Midtjylland’s first Cup win last season.
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Like Mabil, Mustafa Amini is an established first team star for his club, Aarhus Gymnastikforening (AGF). The ex-Central Coast Mariner has come a long way from the teenager who once caught the eye of Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, building a very impressive career in Denmark.
He has played more than 100 fixtures for AGF, whom he joined in June 2016, and was voted the club’s Player of the Season last year, having led David Nielsen's side to the brink of a UEFA Europa League playoff final.
Amini will be joined by promising fullback Alex Gerbsach, who signed a three-year deal with AGF after former employers NAC Breda were relegated from the Dutch Eredivisie last season.
The ex-Sydney FC left-back has also had stints with Norwegian giants Rosenborg and French club Lens in recent years.
Vejle Boldklub finished as the losers of the relegation play-offs last season, and were relegated to Danish second tier alongside Vendsyssel FF.
Coming up are 2018/19 Danish First Division Champions, Silkeborf IG, as well as promotion play-off winners Lyngby Boldklub. Both sides are returning to the top tier after a one-year absence.
The new Danish Superliga season kicks off this weekend, with Gersbach and Amini’s first match away at Hobro on Tuesday, July 16 (kick-off 3am AEST).
Fellow Caltex Socceroo Awer Mabil and his FC Midtjylland open the campaign at home against Esbjerg on Saturday (3am AEST).