Tuesday night, Chelsea travel to Denmark to face FC Nordsjaelland, the reigning Danish champions. I must admit to not knowing much about them because they aren’t necessarily a household name for those not living in Denmark and footage to watch their matches is hard to come by. The only thing I have to go on is their opening match against Shakhtar Donetsk, which isn’t the best match to have to watch to see how they may attack.
Suffice it to say, this should be 3 points for the Blues. However, as we saw a few years ago with CFR Cluj, newcomers can produce good performances on their home patches. In this case, a trip to Parken Stadium is the home of Nordsjaelland in order to be able to accommodate the number of tickets needed.
So what do we know about Nordsjaelland? They have a Laudrup, for one.
Interestingly enough, current Swansea manager and former Barcelona legend Michael Laudrup’s son Andreas is a member of Nordsjaelland’s side. Like his father, he likes to play in wide areas, but has a preference for his left foot. He started his career in the Real Madrid Academy but left after Michael took a job at Spartak Moscow.
So far in his young career, he has made 72 appearances for Nordsjaelland and scored 8 goals, including a goal in the match that clinched the title for them
Aside from the more famous named Andreas Laudrup, their most accomplished scorer appears to be Joshua John.
Joshua John is a new arrival to Denmark, having just joined on loan this summer from FC Twente in the Netherlands. The young Dutch winger has found the net 7 times in Nordsjaelland’s first 11 matches this campaign while being deployed mostly on the left wing where he can cut inside and shoot on his favored right foot.
Nordsjaelland tend to play a 4-2-3-1, though their initial lineup is quite fluid.
From the appearances of their squad, they really don’t have an out and out striker as we would define them. Rather they have a collection of attacking midfielders and wingers who can function in the striker role with a box-to-box player, Soeren Christiansen, playing as a number 10 in the hole.
The interesting factor is that they have played 4 different strikers in their first 11 league matches, though they seem to have settled on Morton Nordstrand and Mikkel Beckmann as their preferred options.
To me, this says that they play a rather fluid system with four attackers looking to find space in front of two holding midfielders. In our case, it should mean that they rely on ball possession, meaning that a completely defensive tactic may not be their chosen option.
Nordsjaelland’s best player, however, may be their center back Jores Okore.
The 20-year-old Ivory Coast born Okore is probably one name that jumps out to anyone following transfer rumours, as he’s been linked with a move to half a dozen clubs in the Premier League in the last window.
He’s around 6’0” and has been described as one of the reasons that Nordsjaelland were able to secure an unlikely title in a league dominated by FC Kobenhavn as of late. He plays the ball well in the air, is strong, and can play a pass, though he was slow to cut on the pass on Shakhtar’s first goal.
The biggest question of the entire pre-match, especially since I don’t have a lot of scouting of Nordsjaelland, is, what to do with Frank Lampard?
I expect Lampard to be back in the starting 11 tonight, especially as the extra cover at the holding position may not be as needed against Nordsjaelland who had problems generating clear chances against Shaktar’s strong midfield. In fact, I think had he not been injured last week, he would have featured against Wolves alongside Oriol Romeu.
However, I think against Arsenal we began to see the way forward for our midfield, and unfortunately for Lampard, he wasn’t a part of it. If Roberto Di Matteo is intent on playing Oscar, Juan Mata, and Eden Hazard behind Fernando Torres, a second holding player is needed to play next to John Obi Mikel, or you need a midfielder who doesn’t necessarily “hold” but has the energy to press the opposition, allowing numbers to get back and stopping counter attacks.
As sad as it may be to say this, but against sides like Arsenal, Ramires may be a better option because he fits that exact description. In addition, I do believe that whoever plays next to Mikel must also resist the urge to come forward and stay deep as not to clog the spaces ahead. That’s something Ramires did very well, and if Lampard is to get a regular place considered, he may have to reinvent himself as Michael Ballack did when he joined us in 2006.
By Justin Weible