Domestic vs International – Denmark
Written by Luke Funn
For the first article of this mini-series I’ll be explaining the domestic league of Denmark and comparing it with their men’s national side. The main domestic league in Denmark is the Danish Superligaen with the second division being the Danish 1st Division. 12 teams compete in the top division that runs from July until May. The division takes a 2 and a half month break, this season being from the 29th of November until the 25th of February due to winter.
The season begins with each team playing every team home and away each playing 22 games before the league is then split into a six-team championship and a six-team qualifying playoff. All of the points and goal difference carry over into the split groups. In the Playoff group they play each other twice resulting in 32 league matches for the season. 12th and 11th place will be relegated to the 1st division, this year SønderjyskE and Vejle BK faced the drop. In the top six group it’s the fight for European football with all major European competitions on the line with the Champions league, Europa League and the Conference League all up for grabs. The top two teams qualify for Champions league qualifiers whilst 3rd place qualifies for the Europa League qualifiers.
The most notable teams in the Denmark are F.C. København (Copenhagen) Brondby IF, Midtjylland and Aalborg Boldspilklub. Copenhagen have won the league the most having done so on 14 occasions. The most recent coming in the just finished 21/22 campaign. Denmark is ranked 18th on the coefficients list which shows the difference between their domestic and international game. Now onto the international side who are currently ranked 11th in the FIFA world ranks and last year reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020 (2021). They have the likes of talented midfielder Christian Eriksen, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, winger Mikkel Damsgaard, Centre-back and captain: Simon Kjaer and Barcelona forward Martin Braithwaite. The vast majority of the Denmark squad play either in England or Italy’s domestic leagues. Not one of the players in the recent 23-man Nations league squad play domestic football in Denmark. Why’s that? It’s simply because the league is not strong enough to keep top talented players. Many of the players started in Denmark but eventually moved on to bigger and better leagues and standard in the likes of England, Italy and Germany.
Some may say this is down to the fact that bigger European leagues have more money which you could probably say is the case as the richest club at the time of writing is FC Midtjylland who last year had the richest man in Denmark invest 14 million pounds. In England some would say that is championship level money which is again proving the point that top Danish players don’t play in their home land due to money. This however doesn’t mean that the Danish clubs don’t produce the top players, as they have! Tottenham midfielder Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg came through the ranks at Copenhagen and Brondby before moving to Bayern Munich. Captain, Simon Kjaer, came through the ranks at Midtjylland and featured in 19 first team games. So even though Denmark’s leagues may not be the biggest and best in the world and not at the level of their national team, that doesn’t mean they can’t produce top talents and have one of the better national teams in Europe.