COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – The population of FC Nordsjaelland’s home town would only half-fill Chelsea’s ground but the club will have the whole of Farum – and a few more – behind them for the clash with the European champions.
Despite Farum having a population of around 20,000, the Danish titleholders said they had already sold around 25,000 tickets for Tuesday’s home Champions League group game.
"People are going crazy over it, everybody, people who are not even FC Nordsjaelland fans want to see the team playing and just support Danish football," Martin Schmidt, who works in the club shop, told Reuters.
"There are more consumers, opportunists (coming to our games), people who come to have fun and create atmosphere," said Schmidt.
"We sell more season tickets and the interest for our team is booming."
The road from Farum, a satellite town 20 km northwest of the capital Copenhagen, to the Champions League began in May with a 3-0 victory over AC Horsens on the final day of the season to win their first title by two points.
Since then, interest in the unfashionable club has exploded and they are struggling to cope with the number of fans wanting to see their European games.
"Not too many years ago there were no stands here except for a wooden one," club director Jan Laursen told Reuters at their Farum Park ground.
As a result of the interest, the Nordsjaelland board have decided to move their Champions League home games to Copenhagen’s larger Parken stadium.
Nordsjaelland’s success has come at a cost, as bigger clubs have swooped for players Tobias Mikkelsen and Andreas Bjelland, who were the backbone of the championship-winning side.
In contrast, Chelsea spent the off-season strengthening their squad with the likes of Oscar and Eden Hazard to add to a team that won the Champions League title by beating Bayern Munich in a penalty shootout.
"There is no way you can compare these two teams. Our style of playing, our budgets and the foundation of the club," said Laursen.
Drawn against Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk and Italian champions Juventus in Group E and struggling in the domestic league, Nordsjaelland’s sojourn in the Champions League may be short-lived.
Their first European outing finished in a 2-0 loss at Shakhtar Donetsk but local fans were optimistic of a better result against Chelsea.
"I believe 1-1, 0-0, a draw at least," said Schmidt.
"Let us hope for a draw," fan Soren Pedersen said. "A victory would be better, but that guess might be a bit over the bar."
(Writing by Philip O’Connor in Stockholm; Editing by Alison Wildey; email@example.com; Reuters Messaging:; firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 20 7542 7933; Twitter: @mark_meadows)
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