FC Copenhagen travel to Türkiye defending a 2-1 first-leg lead as their UEFA Champions League play-off against Trabzonspor concludes with both sides eager to end lengthy absences from the group stage.
The Danish champions took a firm grip on the first leg in Copenhagen thanks to goals early in each half from Viktor Claesson (9) and Lukas Lerager (49), but Trabzonspor gained a foothold in the tie thanks to Tasos Bakasetas’ deflected strike 11 minutes from time – the club’s first goal in Denmark and the first conceded at home to a Turkish side by Copenhagen.
While Trabzonspor’s only previous group appearance came 11 seasons ago, Copenhagen are aiming to reach the competition’s last 32 for the first time in six years.
The first leg was the sides’ first fixture and, while Copenhagen have plenty of recent experience of Turkish opponents – including at this stage of last season’s UEFA Europa Conference League – Trabzonspor had not faced a Danish club in more than 30 years before this tie.
Trabzonspor are unbeaten in their two home matches against Danish visitors, although Copenhagen claimed their first win in Turkey on their most recent visit.
Trabzonspor are bidding to reach the group stage for only the second time. In 2011/12 they finished third in Group B behind Inter and CSKA Moskva having picked up seven points, their sole victory a 1-0 win in Milan on Matchday 1.
That season was also Trabzonspor’s third and most recent previous appearance in UEFA Champions League qualifying, after 2004/05 and 2005/06. They lost to Benfica in the third qualifying round (0-2 a, 1-1 h) but were subsequently installed in the group stage after Fenerbahçe were disqualified.
The Black Sea team, who were beaten by PSV Eindhoven (1-2 h, 1-4 a) in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League round of 32 after transferring across from the UEFA Champions League, have subsequently featured in that competition’s group stage three times, reaching the last 32 in 2013/14 and 2014/15, but making no further progress in 2019/20.
In 2021/22, Trabzonspor overcame Molde 4-3 on penalties in the UEFA Europa Conference League third qualifying round (3-3 h, 1-1 a) only to lose to eventual champions Roma in the play-offs (1-2 h , 0-3 a).
Trabzonspor claimed their first Turkish Süper Lig title since 1983/84, and their seventh overall, last season under coach Abdullah Avcı and are now attempting to become only the fourth club from their country to feature in multiple UEFA Champions League group campaigns after Galatasaray (16 appearances), Beşiktaş (eight) and Fenerbahçe (six).
All four of Trabzonspor’s previous games with Danish opponents before this tie came against B1903 København, one of the clubs that merged to form FC Copenhagen in 1992. The Turkish side won 1-0 at home in the 1977/78 European Cup first round first leg but were eliminated following a 2-0 away defeat; they were also beaten on their next visit to Copenhagen, 1-0 in the 1991/92 UEFA Cup third round first leg, before drawing 1-1 at home.
Trabzonspor are without a win in their last six European home games (D2 L4) since a 2-1 defeat of Sparta Praha in the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round second leg.
Trabzonspor have won only one of the 13 UEFA competition ties in which they lost the away first leg, most recently going out to Rabotnički in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round (0-1 a, 1-1 h aet). Their sole aggregate win came after a 2-1 away defeat, however, against Slovan Bratislava in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup qualifying round (4-1 h); in the only other tie in which they were beaten 2-1 away in the first game, against Oțelul Galați in the 2007 UEFA Intertoto Cup third round, they went down by the same score at home.
Trabzonspor’s record in two UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L1:
2-4 v Videoton, 2012/13 UEFA Europa League qualifying play-offs
4-3 v Molde, 2021/22 UEFA Europa Conference League third qualifying round
Copenhagen are aiming to reach the group stage for the fifth time, and the first since 2016/17. No other Danish side has featured more than twice.
On their last group stage appearance six seasons ago, Copenhagen finished third in Group G behind Leicester City and Porto despite taking nine points from their six fixtures, losing only once. That was the third of their four campaigns in the UEFA Champions League proper to have ended at that point, the exception being 2010/11 when they lost to Chelsea in the round of 16.
Copenhagen’s record in UEFA Champions League play-offs is W2 L5, the most recent tie bringing defeat on away goals against Qarabağ in 2017/18 (0-1 a, 2-1 h). A loss on penalties to Crvena zvezda in the 2019/20 third qualifying round made it ten eliminations in their 13 previous UEFA Champions League qualification campaigns.
In 2021/22 Jess Thorup’s team came through three qualifying rounds to reach the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League group stage, where they won five of their six games to top Group F. However, they were subsequently brushed aside by PSV Eindhoven in the round of 16 (4-4 a, 0-4 h).
Copenhagen claimed their 14th Danish league title, all since 1993, and their fourth in seven seasons in 2021/22.
The Danish side won away (2-1) and home (5-0) against Sivasspor in last season’s UEFA Europa Conference League qualifying play-offs. Their overall record against Turkish sides is now W5 L2. That win at Sivasspor was their first in Turkey, after two defeats in Istanbul.
Copenhagen are unbeaten in their last eight away European games (W6 D2). Their last defeat came in Türkiye – 0-1 against İstanbul Başakşehir in the first leg of their 2019/20 UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie, which they won thanks to a 3-0 second-leg victory in Denmark.
Copenhagen have won 17 of the 21 European ties in which they were victorious in the first leg, most recently beating Torpedo Zhodino in last season’s UEFA Europa Conference League second qualifying round (4-1 h, 5-0 a). However, they have lost both ties where they won the home first leg 2-1, against Lazio in the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round (1-4 a) and Ajax in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League round of 16 (0-2 a).
Copenhagen’s record in three UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L1:
3-2 v Ferencváros, 2003/04 UEFA Cup first round
4-3 v Atalanta, 2018/19 UEFA Europa League qualifying play-off
6-7 v Crvena zvezda, 2019/20 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
Links and trivia
Trabzonspor forward Andreas Cornelius came through the youth ranks at Copenhagen, making his Danish Superliga debut in April 2012. He scored 18 goals in 32 league matches in 2012/13, earning a move to English Premier League side Cardiff, but swiftly returned to Copenhagen, scoring 28 more league goals in 91 matches over the next four seasons.
Cornelius won three Danish Superliga titles with Copenhagen in 2012/13, 2015/16 and 2016/17, adding the Danish Cup in 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17. The striker also claimed the Superliga Golden Boot and Player of the Year awards in 2012/13.
Cornelius was a Copenhagen team-mate of Peter Ankersen from 2015 to 2017.
Trabzonspor right-back Jens Stryger Larsen is also Danish and joined Copenhagen’s local rivals Brøndby aged 15 in 2006, making his senior debut in November 2009. The defender made 105 appearances for the club before signing for Nordsjælland in 2013/14, playing 38 matches in his sole campaign.
Stryger Larsen’s record against Copenhagen is W3 D4 L9. His own goal gave Copenhagen a 1-0 home win against Nordsjælland in the Danish Cup semi-final first leg on 26 March 2014.
Stryger Larsen played alongside Nicolai Boilesen in Brøndby’s youth teams.
Has played in Turkey:
Khouma Babacar (Alanyaspor 2020–22)
Babacar’s Alanyaspor team-mates included Manolis Siopis and Bakasetas.
Have also played together:
Tasos Bakasetas & Marios Oikonomou (AEK Athens 2018/19)
Vitor Hugo & Khouma Babacar (Fiorentina 2017/18)
Stefano Denswil & Nicolai Boilesen (Ajax youth, senior 2009–15)
Stefano Denswil & Mathew Ryan (Club Brugge 2015)
Andreas Cornelius & Lukas Lerager (Bordeaux 2018/19)
Manolis Siopis, Tasos Bakasetas & Zeca, Marios Oikonomou (Greece)
Jens Stryger Larsen, Andreas Cornelius & Mohamed Daramy, Nicolai Boilesen, Peter Ankersen, Rasmus Falk (Denmark)