FC Nordsjaelland Prepare for Chelsea and Biggest Game in Their (Short) History

Will TideySenior Manager, GlobalOctober 1, 2012

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - OCTOBER 01:  Andreas Laudrup of FC Nordsjaelland during a training session at Parken Stadium on October 1, 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

If you're looking for an underdog story among this week's Champions League fixtures, look no further than Danish newcomers FC Nordsjaelland, who will host the vast riches of Chelsea on Tuesday night.

The Group E encounter will represent the first time the Wild Tigers have faced English opposition and the biggest match in the club's short history, which dates back a mere 21 years to their inception as Farum BK in 1991.

The town of Farum, situated just a short drive from Denmark's capital of Copenhagen on the island of Zealand, is suddenly the talk of European football.

On Friday, Nordsjaelland beat newly promoted Esbjerg 3-0 before a meagre crowd of 4,713 at their modest Farum Park stadium. For Tuesday's match, they will take residence at the 38,000-capacity Parken Stadium in Copenhagen and be transported to a different world entirely.

By now, blue shirts adorned with household names like Hazard, Torres and Terry will be parading Copenhagen's streets—gravitating to bars and eateries and singing the songs that soundtracked Chelsea's run to Champions League glory last season.

They will come expecting a comfortable victory. Chelsea are the reigning kings of Europe, perched atop the Premier League, and will arrive buoyed by a hugely impressive win at Arsenal on Saturday.

Roberto Di Matteo's squad is overflowing with sparkling creative talent. When you infuse that with the brand of organisation, work rate and focus Chelsea displayed at the Emirates, you can make an argument for the Blues being stronger than they were last season.

Last season, they beat Barcelona.

Everything points towards a difficult night for Nordsjaelland—who opened their campaign with a 2-0 loss away to Shakhtar Donetsk—and it would represent something of a seismic shock if they claimed a famous victory.

Especially when we break down the two teams' relative financial firepower.

The average value of players in the Nordsjaelland squad is estimated to be $760,000, according to transfermarkt.com. The same source calculates Chelsea's players to be worth $24 million on average.

Chelsea splashed out over $50 million on Eden Hazard alone this summer, while Nordsjaelland managed to bring in 12 players for less than $7 million combined.

The contrast is stunning. But with expectancy comes pressure, and Chelsea will be desperate to win in Denmark after drawing at home against Juventus in their opener. 

They'll find themselves up against a young team that won the title playing exciting, attractive football last season. A team with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Among their number will be 21-year-old midfielder Andreas Laudrup, son of Denmark's most famous football export Michael, and the Swansea manager is not ruling out an upset.

Said Michael Laudrup, as per the Daily Telegraph

Tuesday will be a huge game. Everyone knows the difference in the two teams, but they are playing at home in Denmark and anything can happen.

I think for them just to have the chance is great. The club is made up of a lot of young players who perhaps didn’t make it in to the big clubs like Copenhagen. Suddenly they win the league in the last game and now they are there.

Others to watch in the Nordsjaelland team include highly rated 20-year-old defender Jores Okore, who's been linked with a move to the Premier League, and free-scoring Dutch striker Joshua John.

There will also be an American presence in the form of defender Michael Parkhurst, who joined Nordsjaelland from New England Revolution in 2008 and has picked up 14 caps for the U.S. national team.

Everything suggests the Wild Tigers will get mauled. They're young, inexperienced and at the mercy of one of the strongest squads in world football.

But Nordsjaelland haven't risen to the top of Danish football by accident. And, who knows, if they can keep the Blues quiet for 30 minutes or so, we might be in for one of the most intriguing matches of the group stage.